me having a sly wank. d' ya know what I mean'.’ This guy's like click-click. and I'm in the pages of Hello knocking one off.'
Masturbatory nervousness aside. fame has taken its toll in other ways. ‘What we all began to realise was that when you're unsigned you dream of the whole thing.' Dunlop explains. ‘You dream of the big stages. Top Of The Pops. flying. interviews. the whole thing. Once you get that
you often find yourself regressing to the point of
going to the shops. sitting having a cup of tea. watching a shite telly programme. going for a walk or even just going to the local pub and it's dead exciting. It's kind of like "wow" because before. you do take all that for granted.'
This is a trade-off that any band makes but Travis are content with the album promotion slog. With over 400 shows in the last five years. there is a fundamental that continues to drive the band. ‘There's still nothing that can replace the feeling of doing a good show.' says Andy. ‘lt's a high that just gets more and more addictive'
As a group Travis are a rock. There is a real sense of them being a gang. When Dougie Payne enters the room half an hour into the interview. the others rise to their feet as hugs and kisses are unselfconsciously dished out. This dynamic extends through everything they do. be it the onstage chemistry of their live shows or even just sitting in a hotel room. bantering around. finishing each other's sentences. This is not some sensitive pop star posturing. this is what being with the same people for nigh on twelve years does to you.
And that's one thing that comes to light when considering their speedy traversing of the Irish Sea; Travis are true grafters. They've been around the block and had the skint knees and elbows that are part and parcel of working on any labour of love. be it theatre. art. film or music. And as good fortune would have it they are now very. very big.
Of course. once upon a time they weren't. Once upon a time they thought it a good idea to name themselves after a track from the Beatles ll’lii’ie album. Let's just be thankful they didn't end up being called ()b-l.a-Di. ()b-l.a—Da: instead they were (ilass ()nion. (ittitat‘ist Dunlop
18 THE LIST I": i or, ‘-2 Ma" '/',','/
‘We were outsiders, always have been,’ says Fran Healy
was the founder member. two brothers (ieoff and Chris Martyn were the other mtrsical rntrscle and a lass by the name of Catherine Maxwell commanded lead vocals.
Safe to say it didn't sound very much like Travis. How do we know so much'.’ A rake through the bowels of The Us! offices uncovered an original Glass ()nion demo dating back to l‘)‘)l.
'That was Travis before they were Travis before they were Travis before they were 'l'ravis.' laughs Primrose. ‘And it's probably so shite no one will believe you when you tell them anyway.' Healy chirps in: ‘We all have our crosses to bear. How does it go again'.’ "Was the parrot talking The others collapse into embarrassed sniggcrs before Primrose perks tip. ‘It reminds you how far you've come. You've got to be stupid and shite at one point to get anywhere so it might all be slightly tinged with embarrassment'
I declare my intentions to sell the tape on the internet. hopefully l'or a small fortune. Healy is delighted. ‘Someone somewhere might want it.' It's certainly true that some strange things are up for sale on the web. ‘l.orraine Kelly's worn knickers.' he pipes up. Well. never quite that strange. '()r smelly.' he adds.
'I think it's cool.' he says. returning to the demo. 'lt's like seeing your baby photos when you're a wee guy. in your nappies and you're like "oh rnttm. fuck's sake. put them away". But it's kinda nice as it's also something that's long gone. an innocent streak.'
Long gone indeed. The final line-up took shape with Healy and Primrose's arrival while the Martyns and Maxwell nrade a Pete Best-like departure. and was consolidated with Payne's arrival in March l‘)‘)5. The quartet decanted to London in June 1996 in what they describe their ‘make or break' move. Moving to London to pursue rock mtrsic recognition is criticised and hallowed equally. So many acts are celebrated for their staunch i'cl'usal to head down south and ‘play the game'. and remain. so often. in parochial obscurity with the belief that they
retain some imaginary value for not ‘selling out'. It's as though ambition is something to scorn.
Sometimes. however. the choice is made for you. 'We had ground to a halt in Glasgow anyway.' explains llealy. ‘We had played as many shows as anyone could there. l’or things to progress. everything had to change. I always remember bands like Thrum and A(' Acoustics who were unsigned at the time but there was a real sense of togetherness with them. that they were a part of something that we never were. I felt slightly ptrt ottt by that. We were outsiders anyway. always have been.'
The move turned out to be the best thing they ever did. A deal was struck with lndependiente and out rolled 1995's (inm/ feeling and The Man Who in 1997. the latter fulfilling the feelgood melancholic promise ofthc anthem ‘Why Does It Always Rain On Me'." with an album of classic. classy guitar pop.
The biggest key to Travis' success is the songs. The inherent snobbery that drives musos to mock bands like Travis are those self same types writhing with joy at the possibility of a few unreleased Donovan out-takes or a retrospective of Dusty Springfield material. ‘Son Of A Preacher Man'. ‘All I Wanna Do ls Rock'. ‘l'm A Believer". ‘Turn'. ‘Waterloo Sunset'. ‘Sing'. ‘ltchycoo Park'. ‘Driftwood'. Pop mtrsic then. pop mtrsic now.
As far as the accusation of being boring. llealy remains deliant. ‘If people come and have a fucking excellent time at our gigs and at worst we're going to come off being nice or boring or whatever. then that's fucking cool by me.'
The truth is that people see what they want to see in Travis. They could he that band with that annoying song about it raining. they could be the saviours of pop mtrsic. they could be four nice blokes who make near perfect pop. They are
today's real pop idols without the plastic. If their ultimate dream comes true. then this is the stuff that will be remembered in twenty years as the music ofthc moment. As for their critics. l‘r'an Healy has a closing thought for them. ‘The fact is that our sttrff is incredibly simple. We're a pretty blank canvas so what you might think you're saying about us. you're probably talking about yourself. So be careful.'
So are Travis nice'.’ ('ertainly. they have no need or compulsion to be awkward tortured souls. Are Travis dull'.’ Well. if dull means they won't be fotrnd jostling for a bottle of Moet at the Met bar then yes. Are they boring'.’ An hour in their company would indicate they're far from it. ()h. and there's also 4().()()() other (ilaswegians who'd take you to task on that too. They are passionate. grounded. articulate. excited. excitable enthusiasts who make good pop mtrsic and aren't wankers or prima donnas about it. Now [hith weird.
Travis play SECC, Glasgow, Fri 8 & Sat 9, Tue 19 & Wed 20 Mar.
Exclusive reader offer
Turn to page 46 to see how you can save £2 when you buy Travis’ multi- platinum third album The Invisible Band at Avalanche.