not a member? click here to sign up
Healy Saying Something
Critical brickbats aside, the success of TRAVIS seems to know no bounds. Here FRAN HEALY and co talk to STUART CLARK about drugs, Oasis, Paul McCartney, Ali G, and drunkenly dancing on computers! The man who took the photos: STEVEN FISHER
Stuart Clark, 20 Jul 2000
I don t know what I m more shocked at; Fran Healy confessing to an emergency stay in The Betty Ford Clinic, or Dougie Payne telling me an X-rated tale about himself, Pamela Anderson and a bath-full of live lobsters. It appears that going top 75 in the States has brought out the decadent rock n roll stars in Travis. Actually, it s done nothing of the sort. A sudden fit of Glaswegian giggles reveals that I ve been conscripted into a game of Let s Wind-Up The Gullible hotpress Journo .
There was no dash to detox, or even more disappointingly, sexy seafood cocktail.
We did get shit-faced in Stockholm with Primal Scream, offers Payne by way of compensation.
Aye, Healy concurs. We met Bobby Gillespie and Mani at a Mariah Carey do, which was every bit as mad as it sounds. Get this she had a backing-track and walked through the front-door, microphone in hand, singing. Bobby, off his tits as usual, was going let s throw strawberries at her , which would ve been a great idea if her minders hadn t been Mike Tyson-sized. Y know, there are some people who d find being attacked with soft fruit funny, and others who d put you in intensive care until Christmas. As it was, Mani spent the whole night waving across the room at her. You could see Mariah looking at us and thinking, who are those drunkards with the funny accents?
A platinum popster who does know who they are is Britney Spears. Having heard Travis version of Baby One More Time in a mall, the 19-year-old has said that, schedules permitting, she d like to hook up with them in the studio.
You re joking! Healy exclaims.
No, that s what she told MTV a few days ago.
I d no idea. God that s brilliant! It started off as a jokey thing we did at gigs, but the more we played it, the more I realised it s a really, really good pop song. And Britney Spears is a really, really good pop star. She doesn t write or play an instrument? So fucking what! Her looks, her voice, her singing they all qualify her as an artist. I don t want to go off on a rant, but the way whole genres of music get written off because they re not credible is a joke. It s almost as if certain magazines are saying, Hang on, you don t have our permission to be popular.
True, they may have racked-up more front covers this year than any other British band, but there are still certain sections of the media which resent their elevation to superstar status.
The reviews that The Man Who got in the UK were universally shite. We hadn t stuck our tongues far enough up their arses, so they did a job on us. A year and a lot of record sales later, they conveniently forget what they ve written and want to give you a Best Album award. Which I don t mind cause it gives us a chance to rub their noses in it.
The band were reminded of how vitriolic hacks can be in May when they charged round America with Oasis.
That stuff about Oasis dying on their arses, and people only being there to see us, is complete bollocks, Healy insists. Them going down a storm every fucking night wasn t in the script, so it didn t get reported. I know that things went wrong for them a few weeks later, but at that point I d never seen them in better form. Andy and Gem were fitting in perfectly; Noel was made up over being a dad; and Liam was off all stimulants including cigarettes and booze. I saw it with my own eyes Liam Gallagher was on stage sipping mineral water.
Asked later to sum up the difference between Oasis and Travis, Fran The Man immediately says drugs.
They ve taken superhuman amounts, we haven t. We did the Be Here Now tour with them, and honest to God, I m amazed no-one had to be flown home in a box. I can see how it happens. They were knackered after a year on the road, and surrounded themselves with the wrong people.
The other thing is that they ve got brothers in the band. It s always going to go off when you re related like that just ask Ray and Dave Davies. They used to kick shit out of each other in The Kinks.
While Travis still seem to regard themselves as pretenders to Oasis throne, the fact of the matter is that The Man Who has outperformed Standing On The Shoulder Of Giants in all major territories. That s particularly true in the States where, thanks to the Coming Around video, they re almost as well-known as their beloved Britney.
We wouldn t be as all-over-the-place as she is, but yeah, most MTV viewers would know who we are. Touring with Oasis was great because, as the support band, we only had time to play our best songs. The crowd reaction went from I don t think so to maybe to yes! We played 21 shows and had people on their feet every night.
Among them a healthy smattering of celebrities.
The singer with Semisonic, Dan Wilson, flew 700 miles to see us play a tiny wee gig in Chicago. Another time in New York, this rap guy, Deja, arrived in with his posse and fucking loved it. The music may be different, but the energy and the spirit s the same.
Have they been sampled and looped up yet?
Yeah, for Da Ali G Show, he chuckles, I laughed so hard during one of the rehearsals that I wet myself. Not huge great streams, but enough of a dribble to dampen my pants. I postponed my holidays to go on it, and it was worth every lost second of sunshine.
There was another I think I m going to wee myself moment on New Year s Eve when Travis found themselves in the same Apocalypse Tube hospitality room as Paul McCartney.
He s a dead, dead normal guy who goes out of his way to put you at your ease. He has to, or otherwise the only normal conversations he d have would be with his family. I was being all Basil Fawlty-like and going, don t mention The Beatles, don t mention The Beatles , but he brought em up almost straight away.
What did he say? Completely gobsmacked that I was, I don t really remember.
Having seen where Britpop belligerence got Blur and Suede, Travis have embarked on a four-man mission to charm the Calvin Kleins off our colonial cousins. This includes shock horror being nice to everyone at the record company, and accepting that DJs can t help being stupid.
Steve Lillywhite has this story about Echo & The Bunnymen and U2 both going over to conquer the States in the early eighties. The Bunnymen s attitude was wahaaay, party! , while U2 s was let s work our bollocks off! That s the difference. I speak to (Epic s) New York office every single day to find out what s going on. If we re getting less radio play along the Pacific Rim than we were last week, I want to know why. We were in America the last time for seven weeks, and only took three days off.
Realising that they ve got Inspector Morse on their case, Epic s pluggers have guided Coming Around to a top 5-berth in the American Rock Radio chart. Not bad when you consider that the Goo Goo Dolls, Red Hot Chili Peppers and No Doubt are all trailing in their wake.
It doesn t matter where you go in the world, radio is the number one medium for getting your music heard. The vast majority of people i.e. the non-NME and Melody Maker readers aren t going to pay #14.99 for a CD unless there a couple of songs on it that they know and like. The Man Who was bought by Why Does It Always Rain On Me? and Turn fans, not Travis ones.
Lately, I ve stumbled on the rather mundane fact that a band needs a song if it s going to be a band, he continues, somewhat tangentially. But once a song is out there, it doesn t need a band. It lasts forever. That s where we re coming from. We re just in it for a song. When you write a song, you marry it. It s a contract you sign in blood. When you put a song out there, that contract states that you ll remain faithful to it as long as it exists.
I wonder if that applies to David Bowie and The Laughing Gnome ?
Having given radio such a resounding thumbs up , what s his take on its likely successor, MP3?
Anything that helps our music reach more people is okay by me, especially when it s free. I don t know the specifics of the Napster case, but I can t help feeling that Metallica are being a wee bit greedy. The big evil 15 years ago was home taping, but now nobody gives a toss about cassette machines. As far as I m concerned, it s just another example of corporations protecting their profits.
Profits are something that Travis know all about having shifted 2.5 million copies of The Man Who in Europe. Whatever about his continued penchant for Oxfam chic, Fran Healy must now be an extremely wealthy man.
It s got nothing to do with money, he protests. People have been making music for 40,000 years and not getting paid for it, right? It was only during the last century that businessmen went, Hang on, I can sell that.
We went for a meeting the other day at our accountants, cause our manager made us. He said, You have to know what s going on. We sat there vaguely taking it in, but not really. I d rather be broke and making great music, than rich and producing shit.
Pressed further on the matter, Healy admits to technically being a millionaire, but denies indulging in any of the pastimes that go with such nouveau rock star riches. While which is your favourite nostril? may not be an appropriate question, there must be a few heroic drinking tales he can share with us?
The most out of it I ve been? Paralytic and sleepwalking. I stood on my girlfriend s brother s desk stark bollock naked and pissed on his computer. He d woken up and said I d shouted to him, Don t worry, there s no bodges. And the morning after I was like, what are bodges ? I must ve meant spunk. There was no spunk. But it was a mighty long pee.
You can take the man out of Glasgow, but you can t etc etc. Next to unburden himself in Father Clark s confessional is guitarist Andy Dunlop.
The worst I ve been was last Burns Night. It was free whiskey, and I lay on the floor and couldn t even remember my address. My mates put me in a taxi home, and my girlfriend carries me in, sits me down and says, Andy, what s my name? I still couldn t remember an hour later. I just kept saying I love you I tell you, if you re ever that drunk, it works. She wasn t even angry with me the next day.
The gold medal for Ozzy Osbourne-like behaviour, though, goes to their perfectly-goateed drummer, Neil Primrose.
Once when Dougie was dying for a piss and we couldn t stop, he did it in a water bottle, Fran Healy recounts with obvious disdain. Then he handed it to me to chuck out of the window it was horrible and warm and Neil grabbed it and had a wee taste.
You know that thing I said earlier about success not spoiling them? Forget it.
Despite being the biggest band to come out of Glasgow since Simple Minds, Travis have never been particularly lauded in their hometown.
People in music circles have always tended to look down their noses at us, rues the new Jim Kerr. We were never as cool as the BMX Bandits, or all those Chemikal Underground bands with their jingly-jangly guitars. They had the right clothes and the right haircuts, whereas we had the right songs.
We re not an indie band, Neil Primrose stresses. In fact, we fucking hate indie, because it s become so contrived and predictable.
While one can understand Travis knowing little and caring even less about Bis, their apathy towards another under-achieving Glaswegian institution is shocking.
None of us have any affiliation to Celtic, or I hasten to add, Rangers, Fran Healy divulges. Somebody asked me the other day what I thought of Martin O Neill, and I had to say who? I m actually glad there were no football fans in my family, cause it saved me from all that sectarian nonsense.
As the outdoor-types among you will doubtless be aware, Travis return to Ireland next month for a Sunday night appearance at Witnness. Topping a bill which also includes Beck, Paul Weller and All Saints, they ll be using the occasion to preview a couple of songs from their next album which is due in May 2001. Nothing like a spot of advanced planning, eh?
Part of me wants to release it tomorrow, and part of me wants a long holiday so that I can recover from the madness of the past 18 months. We re actually going to start recording it in October with Nigel Godrich. It would ve been August, but Radiohead and The Divine Comedy nabbed him first.
As for the Witnness show, I m just hoping for a repeat of when we played in Belfast and Dublin at Christmas. It was like Beatlemania, with the crowd screaming so loud we had to stick our fingers in our ears. If we can get that vibe going again, fucking hell, it ll be brilliant!
Over to you, pop pickers.