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More Songs From Northern Britain
Glaswegian quartet TRAVIS may have spent much of the last year playing support to Manc legends Oasis, but deep down, all they want to do is rock. Interview: NICK KELLY
Nick Kelly, 07 Jan 1998
With their debut album not long off the pressing plant, Travis, Glasgow s latest likely lads may be considered the new bairns on the block, but they re not as green as they are cabbagey looking. As they sit huddled together in a hotel room in Dublin, Fran Healy (vocals, guitar), Douglas Payne (bass), Neil Primrose (drums) and Andrew Dunlop (guitar) talk with a wide-eyed, heartfelt passion about music, love, life, the universe and other assorted topics. Yet they have a healthy cynicism for the viler aspects of this biz they call show which suggests that these four thoroughly affable twentysomethings are anything but sacrificial lambs to the industry slaughter.
On the exterior, says Fran, there s this very, very cool positive thing that gives a lot of joy and happiness and what-not to hundreds and thousands of people that sadly on the inside is horrible and rotten to the core.
In Britain, and in Europe and in America, we ve chosen to do it the old school way which is with a bit of humility. There are a lot of bands that are going around at the moment saying We re the best fookin band in the world with their first album. We re doing it the way the Beatles and the Stones did it which is that you go and warm up audiences for big acts. We re getting used to playing in front of bigger audiences. And we can handle all that stuff now.
Indeed, they don t come any bigger than Oasis. After that interlude touring the States with Ben Folds Five, Travis re-joined the Gallagher brothers travelling rock n roll circus for the infamous gigs in the Point, and if reports on the UK dates are true, it appears that Travis career elevator is on its way to somewhere near the 83rd floor, while Oasis looks like its coming back through the roof and approaching the ground floor at a rate of knots.
I think a lot of bands go on stage and expect people to like them whereas we go on stage and make people like us, if you know what I mean. Some bands just clam up if they sense an audience doesn t like them whereas we work twice as hard, says Andrew. Oasis crowds are notoriously partisan but we ve been pretty lucky by the way we ve been received by their fans on the previous tour because a lot of their other support bands have been saying that they ve had a really bad time.
One of the year s happier inspirations, Good Feeling ranges from melodic shards of amps-11 guitars (such as their breakthrough single, All I Want To Do Is Rock ) to fragile ballads that wouldn t look out of place in Thom Yorke s notepad.
Do they mind such comparisons?
Well, we get compared to everybody: from Radiohead to Bay City Rollers to Slade . . . laughs Andrew.
I think we re very schizophrenic, asserts Fran. I think the best place to stand is between two extremes. We re looking both ways from between Oasis and Radiohead. The healthiest place to be is slap bang in the middle of a contradiction. A very wise man once said that!
Me! (pause) Actually, I think it was Bono!
Isn t there the fear with all this touring that they ll be incapable of writing about anything but the experience of being in a band and touring?
The thing is, that can be interesting, answers Andrew, because the people that buy the records aren t in bands so maybe they want to hear about that.
Fran agrees. Everyone who goes to see the big films says I wonder what it d be like to be famous . I wonder what it d be like to be famous . . . cos I don t consider myself to be famous at all. Which is great cos you still have anonymity. I mean, poor Oasis, they don t get any peace.
One of the things Liam said to me about fame . . . he s a lovely man, he s really sweet, dead straightforward . . . is that you ve got to keep your fame there (gestures towards back of his head) behind you and don t put it in front of you cos as soon as you do that, you can forget about it, you re fucked.
Oasis are one of the easiest-going bands that we ve toured with. There s no shit, no bullshit, no I m fucking brilliant . The energy that Liam has as a single person is pretty daunting. The thing about Oasis is that if you re an arsehole with them, they ll treat you like an arsehole. And most of the tabloid press people generally are cunts. n
Good Feeling is out now on Independiente. Travis should be back in Dublin to headline their own show very soon.