Travis (band)

Travis (band)

Infobox musical artist
Name = Travis

Img_capt =
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Landscape =
Background = group_or_band
Birth_name =
Alias =
Born =
Died =
Origin = Glasgow, Scotland
Instrument = Fran Healy - Fender Telecaster electric, Taylor 310CE acoustic, Banjo
Andy Dunlop - Gibson Les Paul, Gibson ES-335, Banjo
Dougie Payne - Fender P-Bass, Fender Jazz Bass
Neil Primrose - Yamaha Drums, Sabian cymbals, Gong
Claes Björklund - Keyboards, Accordion
Genre = Britpop Alternative rock Indie rock (early)
Occupation =
Years_active = 1995–present
Label = Independiente Records
Red Telephone Box
Associated_acts =
URL = []
Current_members = Andrew Dunlop
Francis Healy
Douglas Payne
Neil Primrose
Notable_instruments =

Travis are a Scottish alternative rock band from Glasgow, comprising Fran Healy (lead vocals, guitar, piano, banjo), Dougie Payne (bass guitar, backing vocals), Andy Dunlop (lead guitar, banjo, keyboards, backing vocals) and Neil Primrose (drums, percussion). Travis have twice been awarded British album of the year at the annual BRIT Awards, and are often credited with having paved the way for bands such as Coldplay, Keane and Snow Patrol. They have released six studio albums, beginning with their debut, "Good Feeling", in 1997. Their latest album, "Ode to J. Smith", was released in September 2008.


Formation and early years (1990–1996)

The band that would become Travis (initially called "Running Red", and later, "Glass Onion") was formed by brothers Chris and Geoff Martyn. It is rumored that the band is named after a friend of theirs, Travis Prest. Andy Dunlop, a school friend at Lenzie Academy, was drafted in on guitar, followed soon after by Neil Primrose on drums. The line-up was completed by a female vocalist, Catherine Maxwell, and the band's name then changed to "Glass Onion" (which is the name of a Beatles song written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney). After parting company with their singer in the spring of 1991, they auditioned for a new vocalist. Having met each other through Primrose pouring him a pint, a musically untrained art student, Fran Healy, then joined after being invited to audition by Primrose. Healy joined the band on the day he enrolled at The Glasgow School of Art, in the autumn of 1991. Two years later, with the option of music holding more appeal, Healy dropped out of art school, and inspired by song writers such as Joni Mitchell, shortly after, assumed songwriting responsibilities. With brothers Chris and Geoff Martyn on bass and keyboards, in 1993, the fivesome released a privately made CD, "The Glass Onion EP", featuring the tracks "Dream On", "The Day Before", "Free Soul" and "Whenever She Comes Round". 500 copies of the EP were made and were recently valued at £1000 each. Other songs they recorded but were left off are "She's So Strange" and "Not About to Change".Eventually, the band was renamed once more, becoming "Travis" — when Fran asked his younger cousin who her favorite band was, she said Travis, who were a band performing in Uddingston at the time and he decided to change their name to this.

The band won a talent contest organized by the "Music in Scotland Trust", who promised £2,000 so that Travis could deal-hunt at a new music seminar in New York. Two weeks before they were due to leave, however, the prize was instead given to the "Music in Scotland Trust Directory". When sent a copy of the directory, the band noticed that it seemed to feature every single band in Scotland — except for them. While on a visit to Scotland, American engineer and producer Niko Bolas, a long-time Neil Young and Rolling Stones associate, tuned into a Travis session on Radio Scotland, and heard something in the band's music which instantly made him travel to Perth to see them. Healy: "He told us we were s***, took us in the studio for four days, and taught us how to play properly, like a band. He was bolshy, rude, and New York pushy. He didn't believe my lyrics and told me to write what I believed in and not tell lies. He was Mary Poppins, he sorted us out." Three years later, when Travis played New York and the band dedicated "All I Want to Do Is Rock" (the band's first single and recorded with £600 from Healy's mother) to Bolas who was in the audience: he wept.

With the sudden death of his grandfather, a grief-stricken Healy shut himself away, refusing to talk to anyone. Emerging a week later, and with a clear vision of where he now wanted Travis and their music to go, Healy dispensed with the band's management, their publicity agent, and the keyboard player, Geoff Martyn, and replaced the bassist, Geoff's brother, Chris, with best friend Dougie Payne — another art student and a Levi's shop assistant. Remarkably, Payne had not picked up a bass guitar before this. Two weeks later, with Payne having completed a crash course on bass in his bedroom, the band played together for the first time in a free space above the Horse Shoe Bar. The line-up was thus completed and has remained the same to this day.

"Good Feeling" (1996–1998)

With Travis having spent the previous year rehearsing above the Horse Shoe Bar and playing gigs around Glasgow and Scotland, Healy and Payne then went to London to locate a place to live, a rehearsal space, and a manager – achieving all three within a day. The band played their first London show at the famous Dublin Castle in Camden. A demo the band had then found its way to Andy MacDonald, owner of Go! Discs Records and founder of Independiente Records. Sensing greatness, he signed Travis for a reputed £100,000 of his own money.Fact|date=February 2007 The band is signed to MacDonald personally, not to the label — if MacDonald ever leaves the Sony-financed label Independiente Records, the band goes with him (commonly referred to in the industry as a "golden handcuffs" clause).

Produced by Steve Lillywhite of U2 fame, Travis' first studio album, 1997's "Good Feeling", is a rockier, more upbeat record than the band's others to date. Recorded at the legendary Bearsville Studios in Woodstock, New York, the place where Travis favourite The Band recorded, the album contained singles such as "All I Want to Do Is Rock", "U16 Girls", the Beatle'esque "Tied to the 90's", "Happy" and "More Than Us". Guest musicians include Page McConnell of Phish playing keyboards on the title track "Good Feeling". The album reached No. 9 on the British charts, but with little radio play, it slipped from the charts relatively quickly. Although it heralded Travis' arrival on the British music scene, received extremely positive reviews, and substantially broadened Travis' fan base, it sold just 40,000 copies. Following the release, Travis toured extensively, their live performances — something Travis has become renowned for — further enhancing their reputation. This included support slots in the UK for Oasis, after Noel Gallagher became an outspoken fan.

"The Man Who" (1998–2000)

Shortly after release, Travis’ second album, 1999’s "The Man Who" — produced by Nigel Godrich, and recorded at producer Mike Hedges' chateau in France and continued at (among other studios) Abbey Road Studios in London — looked as though it would mirror the release of "Good Feeling". Although it entered the charts at No. 7, with little radio play of its singles, it quickly slipped down. Worse, many critics who had raved about the rocky "Good Feeling" rubbished the album for the band's move into more melodic, melancholic material (for example, "Travis will be best when they stop trying to make sad, classic records" - NME). However, when the album slipped as far as No. 19, it stopped. Word of mouth and increasing radio play of the single "Why Does It Always Rain on Me?" increased awareness of the band and the album began to rise back up the charts. Then, when Travis took the stage to perform this song at the 1999 Glastonbury Festival, after being dry for several hours, it began to rain as soon as the first line was sung. The following day the story was all over the papers and television, the song became an anthem (it is consistently rated as one of the decade's best songs, as is the album itself), and with word of mouth and increased radio play of this and the album's other singles, "The Man Who" rose to No. 1 on the British charts. It also eventually took Best Album at the 2000 BRIT Awards, with Travis being named Best Band. Music industry magazine "Music Week" awarded them the same honours, while at the Ivor Novello Awards, Travis took the Best Songwriter(s) and Best Contemporary Song Awards. By 2001, one in eight U.K households contained a copy of "The Man Who".Fact|date=January 2008 Travis followed the release of "The Man Who" with an extensive 237-gig world tour, including headlining the 2000 Glastonbury, T in the Park and V Festivals, and a US tour leg with Oasis. In Los Angeles, an appearance of the band at an in-store signing forced police to close Sunset Strip. The gentle, melodic approach of "The Man Who" became a hallmark of the latter-day Britpop sound, and inspired a new wave of UK-based rock bands, with acts such as Coldplay and Starsailor soon joining Travis in challenging the chart dominance of urban and dance acts. The title "The Man Who" comes from the book "The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat" by neurologist Oliver Sacks. The majority of songs for this album were written before Good Feeling was even released. 'Writing to Reach You', 'The Fear', and 'Luv' being penned around 1995/96, with 'As You Are', 'Turn', and 'She's So Strange' dating back as far as 1993 and the early Glass Onion EP.

"The Invisible Band" (2000–2003)

The title of Travis’ following album, 2001's "The Invisible Band", again produced by Nigel Godrich, reflects the band's genuine belief that their music — the song — is more important than the group behind it. Featuring such songs as "Sing" (the most played song on British radio that summer), "Side", the McCartneyesque "Flowers in the Window", "Indefinitely", "Pipe Dreams" and "The Cage", and recorded at Ocean Way Studios in Los Angeles, the album again made No. 1 on the British charts, generally received widespread critical acclaim, with the band again taking Best British Band at the annual BRIT Awards. It also received "Top of the Pops" Album of the Year. The album also had an impact across the Atlantic, the popularity in the US of the single "Coming Around", a non-album track with Byrdsesque harmonies and 12-string guitar, enhancing this. Travis again followed the release of "The Invisible Band" with an extensive world tour.

In 2002, however, things came to a screeching halt for Travis, with the band almost calling it quits after drummer, Neil Primrose, jumped head-first into a shallow swimming pool while on tour in France. Breaking his neck, he almost died due to spinal damage. If not for his bandmates, he also would have drowned. Despite the severity of the accident, Primrose has since made a full recovery. Healy said later of this time, "Little cracks had started appearing in 2001, around the time of "The Invisible Band". We hadn't anticipated "The Man Who" doing so well. It was an emotional rollercoaster for us. Being Scottish, we're very reticent about being famous pop stars; it's encoded into our DNA that we can't be brassy or show off. But suddenly, we weren't this little band in Glasgow any more. We desperately needed to take a step back and re-evaluate. After Neil's accident it came close to the end of Travis — this band would no longer exist without one of the four members — but we were given another chance."

"12 Memories" and "Singles" (2003–2005)

With Primrose having recovered, Travis regrouped and re-evaluated. Moving into a cottage in Crear, West Scotland, they set up a small studio, and over two weeks, came up with nine new songs that would form the basis of their fourth studio album, 2003's "12 Memories". Produced by Travis themselves, Tchad Blake, and Steve Orchard, the album marked a move into more organic, moody and political territory for the band. Although this seems to have alienated some fans, the album generally received very positive reviews (for example, "Then, of course, there's Travis and their album "12 Memories" [Epic] . You just have to sit there and listen to it all the way through, and it will take you on a real journey. It's like an old album. It's like the Beatles' "Revolver" [1966] . Fran Healy's voice and lyrics are mesmerizing and beautiful" — Elton John), singles such as "Re-Offender" did very well on the British charts, and the album itself reached No. 3. Yet it also saw them lose ground in the U.S., where Coldplay had usurped Travis during their 2002 absence. Much later, Fran Healy spoke about the album as a whole being about him working through his own clinical depression, and the twelve memories being twelve reasons for him reaching his depressed state. At the time this wasn't mentioned, but the revelation that Healy was depressed ties in with the band's decision to take longer writing and releasing their next work.

In 2004, Travis completed a highly successful tour of the US and Europe (supported by Keane in the UK), while in 2005, the band released a successful compilation of their singles, "Singles", as well as the new tracks, "Walking in the Sun" and "The Distance" (written by Dougie Payne). This was followed by a series of small, intimate gigs at UK venues such as Liverpool's Cavern Club, London's Mean Fiddler, and Glasgow's Barrowlands. While on tour, the band also made a series of impromptu acoustic "busks", raising money for the charity The Big Issue. In addition to other performances, they also headlined the 2005 Isle of Wight Festival and T in the Park.

On July 2, 2005, Travis performed at Live 8's London concert, and four days later, at the Edinburgh 50,000 - The Final Push concert. Travis also participated in Band Aid 20's re-recording of "Do They Know It's Christmas?" — Healy and friend Nigel Godrich playing leading roles in its organisation. Healy is a part of the Make Poverty History movement, having recently made two trips to Sudan with the Save the Children organisation. On July 13, 2006, the members of Travis stuck a giant post-it sticker on the front door of the Downing Street home of British Prime Minister, Tony Blair. It read: "Tony Blair — Some steps forward, much to do at the G8, make poverty history."

"The Boy with No Name"

Travis released a fifth studio album, "The Boy with No Name", on May 7, 2007. Nigel Godrich was the album's executive producer, while Mike Hedges and Brian Eno were also involved. The album is named after Healy's son, Clay, whom Healy and his partner Nora were unable to name until four weeks after his birth. Healy has described the process of making the album as "like coming out of the forest" [ 'Travis get Closer' video interview with, March 2007] ] , and that the band is now "in a good place", contrasting with the dark mood surrounding "12 Memories". Travis played at the Coachella Music and Arts Festival on April 28, 2007. At the Virgin Megastore tent in the festival, "The Boy With No Name" was available to purchase over a week early. Reviews of the album were mixed but mostly positive. Though "NME" gave the album a mere 2 out of 10 and labelled it "impotent aural gruel" with "all the soul of a platform announcement". [ NME review of 'The Boy With No Name', May 2007] ] However, user responses to "NME"'s review indicate a different opinion.

The album's first single, "Closer", was released on April 23, 2007 and peaked at number 10 in the charts. The music video for the single features a cameo role from actor and friend of the band, Ben Stiller. Stiller plays the role of a supermarket manager. This song was recently featured on a second season episode of the ABC Family show Kyle XY. The follow-up singles to "Closer" were Selfish Jean and My Eyes. The first charting at 30 in the UK, and "My Eyes" just entering the Top 75 at position 60, the lowest entry of any Travis single in the band's career, although they were both, and especially "Selfish Jean", generally well received by the public worldwide. The single "My Eyes" was given away for free in the Mail on Sunday, which may explain for the relatively poor chart position it gained.

For the promotional tour for the album (which started just before its release), Travis included a new touring pianist, Claes Björklund from Sweden. Björklund's first appearance with the band was when they played at the Oxford Brookes Union on March 19, 2007, prior to the album's release. The band dedicated their performance at the Vic Theater in Chicago to their producer Nigel Godrich. The album's tour lasted until December 2007 ending in a home-coming gig in Glasgow. The band visited for the first time places like Buenos Aires, Argentina, and Santiago de Chile (playing as part of a festival co-headlined with The Killers and Starsailor) during this tour.

"Ode to J. Smith"

Following a short UK tour, where the band tested some new material, Travis recorded their sixth album in two weeks in February/March 2008, having been inspired by the speed and simplicity of their recent recording session with Beatles engineer Geoff Emerick while participating in a BBC programme celebrating the 40th Anniversary of the "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" album [ [ Fran Healy Album 6 - Blog 1] ] . It was announced around this time that the band had split amicably from their long-time record label Independiente. They had "come to the end of our deal and decided to go as it was time to start afresh" [ [ Leaving record label] ] , according to Fran Healy.

In early June 2008, a vinyl EP of the song "J. Smith" was announced online as the first release from "Ode to J. Smith" for June 30 [ [ J Smith vinyl] ] . It is an EP limited to 1000 copies and is not an 'official' single, instead more of a taster of the album for fans.

Fran Healy said, "The album is called "Ode to J. Smith" partly giving a heads up to the key song and partly because all the songs are written about nameless characters or to nameless characters." They will release through their own "Red Telephone Box" record label the lead single "Something Anything" on September 15.cite web|url=||title=New Single: Something Anything|date=2008-07-31|accessdate=2008-08-05] Two weeks later on September 29, "Ode to J. Smith" will be released.cite web|url=||title=Ode To J. Smith - the new album|date=2008-08-05|accessdate=2008-08-05] A 12-gig UK tour to coincide with this releases will be headlined by the band between September 22 and October 8. Early reviews have been very positive, some calling it Travis' best record ever. [ [] ] [ [] ]


*"Good Feeling" (1997)
*"The Man Who" (1999)
*"The Invisible Band" (2001)
*"12 Memories" (2003)
*"The Boy with No Name" (2007)
*"Ode to J. Smith" (2008)

B-sides, covers and other artists

Travis is notable in that their B-sides outnumber their album tracks. The same single is sometimes even released with a different B-side. Travis has also done a number of covers, whether recorded as B-sides for singles, or performed live. Songs that Travis have covered include:

*Joni Mitchell's "River" and "The Urge for Going"
*The Band's "The Weight"
*Mott the Hoople's "All the Young Dudes"
*Elton John's "Rocket Man"
*John Lennon's "Gimme Some Truth"
*The Beatles' "Here Comes the Sun"
*AC/DC' "Back in Black"
*Elvis Presley's "Suspicious Minds"
*Queen's "Killer Queen" with Jason Falkner
*David Bowie's "Heroes"
*The Ronettes' "Be My Baby"
*Queen's "Killer Queen"
*Britney Spears' "...Baby One More Time"
*Jimmy Webb's "Wichita Lineman"
*Graham Nash's "Another Sleep Song"
*Bob Dylan's "You're a Big Girl Now"
*Carly Simon's "Nobody Does It Better"
*Keane's "Somewhere Only We Know" (a modified live acoustic version titled "After Mark and Lard Go")
*Katy Perry's "I Kissed A Girl"

The band have also played with a number of other artists, including Paul McCartney, Graham Nash (of Hollies and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young fame), Oasis' Noel Gallagher, and Jason Falkner.Travis also guest star on Feeder's "Tumble and Fall", performing backing vocals at the end of the song. This was because at the time Feeder were recording their album "Pushing the Senses", Travis were in the next studio and they ended up recording together.

An adaptation of the Oasis song "Half the World Away", as performed by Healy, was used as the intro music for a sketch in "The Adam and Joe Show" entitled "The Imperial Family", which itself was a parody of "The Royle Family" (to which the Oasis song lends itself as the theme music).

In June 2007, Travis participated in BBC Radio 2's project to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Beatles' "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band". All the album's tracks were re-recorded by contemporary artists, supervised by the original engineer, Geoff Emerick, using the same 4-track studio equipment. Travis contributed a rendition of "Lovely Rita". The band wanted to be as faithful to the original as possible, even to the extent of recording the guitars in the stairwell of Abbey Road Studios in order to recreate the acoustics. [ [ BBC Radio 2: Sgt Pepper's 40th Anniversary] ]

on of Rambow

Travis very briefly appeared as extras in the film Son of Rambow. [cite web|url=|title=Rock & Indie Review - Travis, Ode To J Smith|publisher=BBC|date=2008-09-19|accessdate=2008-09-29] The band dressed up as the PE, Science, History and English teachers like they did in their Driftwood music video.


External links

* [ Official site]
* [ Official MySpace page]
* [ Ode To J.Smith Review]


* [ Video Interview "What is really important to you?", Nov. 2007]
* [ Time Off interview, May 2007]
* [ The Music Magazine interview, March 2007]
* [ Sunday Chart interview, July 2007]
* [ Stories on, September 2008]

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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