Despite life changes and yearslong hiatuses, the band TRAVIS manages to maintain its musical connection, returning this month with a mature new record.
In the words of its frontman fran Healy, Scottish pop band Travis has “stayed the course.” Even as its members have passed the age of 40, gotten married, had families and moved to other countries, something has kept the group together. “Well, we met as teenagers, and those kinds of bonds are pretty strong,” Healy says. “And whenever we get back together, we act like we’re 18 again.”
In the five years since Travis’ last LP, Healy cut a solo record and moved to Berlin. The band remained quiet, aside from the occasional live performance. Finally, in late 2011, the group decided it was time to get back to making new music. Working on material more collaboratively than in the past — songwriting duties were spread among Healy, lead guitarist Andy Dunlop and bassist Dougie Payne — it took a year to prep and three weeks to record Where You Stand (Red Telephone Box, $13). The album finds Travis, now in its third decade, evolving as a creative outfit. Though still in thrall to memorable melodies and transcendent choruses, the band has matured musically.
“One of the most exciting things to me about a band that stays together for a long time is listening to how they develop,” Healy says. “It’s interesting to see the journey they take.”
While most of its late-’90s contemporaries have broken up or faded away, Travis has stayed the course, something Healy puts down to the bandmates’ personal bonds. “We’ve managed to hold it together because we’re not daft and we’re mates,” he says. “Those two things are connected. We know that the most important thing we have is our friendship with one another. If you keep that intact, then the band will always survive.”
After half a decade away, though, Travis is returning to find a very different music-industry landscape. As such, its new album isn’t being released by longtime label Sony but via the artist-friendly, indie-servicing system Kobalt Music Group. “We’re a band; that’s our business. The music business is this other thing,” Healy says. “In a way, our band has never historically fit into the business as such because we’ve never really followed fashion. We’ve always been about the song. If you do it the fashionable way, you get on the radio quicker. We’ve sometimes struggled to get on, but once there, our songs tend to last for ages. I think we’ll take the latter route every time.”