10 Songs

10 Songs

Travis frontman Fran Healy hasn't stopped writing new songs since the Scottish rock veterans released their breakthrough debut LP Good Feeling in 1997. But despite his band's continued success, Healy felt that his songwriting had begun to lose the luster of his earlier writing after the release of 2007’s The Boy With No Name. “I've managed to somehow get my mojo back on this album because, for the past 14 years, I've been concentrating on being a dad,” Healy tells Apple Music of 10 Songs, the band's ninth album and first since 2017's Everything at Once. “There was a moment when my son actually said to me, 'I want you to really go for it with the band again. I'm good.'” Recorded at legendary London recording space RAK Studios, the album covers every facet of the band's career: heart-rending ballads ("The Only Thing"), amped-up rockers ("Valentine"), and lush chamber pop ("Kissing in the Wind"). He believes he couldn't have done it without the support of the rest of the band, whose lineup remains unchanged for more than a quarter century: "If it was a Venn diagram, the Venn diagram with all crosses would be Travis, and then outside of that is our own personalities and our own lives." Here, Healy reveals the heart behind every song on the album. Waving at the Window “People think you get second chances. You don't. I don't believe you do, and I think if you treat your life like it's an absolute gift that you'll never get again, that's the best way to treat your life. So I'm telling myself this with the line 'This is no rehearsal, this is a take.' Funnily enough, the way I write songs, I don't start with any ideas. I know that a lot of writers are like this. You start with playing a piano, or in this case, the riff from 'Waving at the Window.' The way I kind of played it on the guitar, it was kind of ping-y, like these guitars you get in Akira Kurosawa movies.” The Only Thing (feat. Susanna Hoffs) “I thought the album needed a duet, and I thought, ‘Oh my god, Susanna Hoffs.’ I met her on Twitter, and I said to her, ‘You're amazing. I love your voice.’ A year and a half after that first communication, we didn't communicate, but singers and artists are like dogs in the park. They meet each other and behave like they've always known each other. Whenever I hear Susanna's voice, it transports me as a 47-year-old person to when I was 14, to a simpler time when things were just a little bit more basic and simple, and it's a nice feeling I get.” Valentine “I needed a quiet place to go and write songs. So I thought that rather than spend a fortune in rent, I would just get a little boat. I moved it in Marina del Rey and would go there every day, mostly to hang out. This rockier side is something Travis has always done since the very beginning. You can go to Good Feeling and hear that in most of that album. Even in The Man Who, you can hear that on ‘Blue Flashing Light.’ We've kind of got this edgy, dark thing that we do, because I think all of us come from that rock background. Led Zeppelin is a big influence on Travis. AC/DC is a big, big influence on Travis. R.E.M. and U2 are a massive influence as bands go. The direction on this song was for everyone in the band to play like you're screaming as loudly as you possibly can in pure anger. Like really, really fucking pissed. Let it all out.” Butterflies “Chasing butterflies is a big, big part of my family history because my uncle, my mother's brother, drowned in the Forth and Clyde Canal—which is the canal that runs through Glasgow. He was chasing butterflies down by the canal, and he slipped and fell in and drowned. He was nine years old, and it was like a nuclear bomb exploding in our family history. And out of that nuclear explosion of an event, my mom was born. The war had just finished. It was 1945, and my grandfather had been a prisoner of war and was waiting to come home, and he got a telegram that he had to come home immediately because his son had died. So here's my granddad, who had gone all the way through the war and survived, only to get the news that his son had drowned months after the war had ended. He had to go back to Glasgow, bury his little boy that he had hardly seen, and then go back to Germany and be demobbed. In the same breath, this idea of chasing butterflies is something I've always felt was a very good metaphor for the act of writing a song. Songs are like butterflies. They're just like little things that fly around—you catch it, you hold it in your hand and you look at it, and then you record it.” A Million Hearts “I think I've gone through my life now 47 years, and when you're a little kid, you fall. You don't try and prevent yourself from making mistakes, and you don't prevent yourself from falling. But the bravest thing of all you can do is to let go; I guess that's what Zen is. Try and just be free, and don't try and control. I'm really happy that we've got Jason Lytle from Grandaddy in there. He plays the middle part of that one and goes into outer space. It all goes a bit dreamy and a bit crazy, right in the middle of the song.” A Ghost “RAK Studios was run by this guy called Mickie Most. He produced ‘House of the Rising Sun’ by The Animals and Hot Chocolate’s ‘You Sexy Thing.’ [Kim Wilde’s] ‘Kids in America,’ I think. We've always used that studio. He would come into the room immaculately dressed. He was always wearing a white jumper, white trousers, white shoes, white socks, gray hair; always looked like he just came back from this vacation with brown olive skin. Mickie died in 2003, but his office is still there. They haven't touched his room. It's exactly the way it was the day he died. I was sitting in the control room, and our guitarist [Andy Dunlop] said to me, 'I'm going to make a cup of tea. Do you want a cup of tea?' I was like, 'Yeah, sure.' So he goes and makes a cup of tea. I can hear Neil [Primrose, drummer] around the corner, like in the studio just out of sight maybe six feet away, looking through a magazine. I can hear Dougie [Payne, bassist] downstairs playing around with the bass in the live room, and this goes on for 20 minutes. I'm just surfing on my computer. Then I look over, and I look up. Neil walks in, and I was like, 'You're not sitting around there?' And he's like, 'No.' And I'm like, 'Well, who's that then?' I turn my head around the corner, and there's nobody there. It happens a lot in that studio, and it's Mickie; he's not left the studio yet. Lights flicker on and off and things fall over, and no one's near them, and you see shadows. We call it the Ghost of the Most, because he's Mickie Most.” All Fall Down “I had a lovely conversation with this taxi driver in Glasgow. And as I was leaving, he leaned out his window. He said, 'Remember, you're a long time in the ground.' Hearing things like that make you really take stock of your time. If you have kids, spend time with them. Give them your time and attention. Don't forget that you'll never get that moment again. That's why Travis really didn't conquer the world, because we were like, 'Fuck it, let's spend time with our kids. We've conquered the world, we did great. Fuck it.' And we never, ever get a chance to be with a one- or two-year-old version of my son. I've watched my boy grow up, and I've been given that opportunity.” Kissing in the Wind “In all my school reports, it would always say, ‘Francis is a nice guy, but he tends to dream.’ In the beginning, I'm just looking at the window and not really in the class. I'm quite happy in my little dream, maybe sometimes more than being in the present. But I think we all have that in common. It takes us away from all of our earthly problems. It turned out beautiful, and it was the first song of this album.” Nina’s Song “This is one of my favorite songs. It was not even going to be on the record because I was a little bit embarrassed about it, because it was too personal—and it was almost like a show song. It was about seven-year-old me saying to my mom one day, 'Hey, mom, is there a dad shop? Can you go to the dad shop and get me a dad?' I still wish there would be, because everyone needs a dad, and not a shit dad. They need a good dad who's going to be there for them, and be someone to rely on. I never had that. I didn't realize how important a dad was until I became one myself.” No Love Lost “This one harks back to another song that I wrote called ‘Writing to Reach You,’ when I say, ‘Every day I wake up and it's Sunday.' And then this song says, 'Woke up feeling shit this morning.' Little did I know I was just about to be around the corner with the pandemic and everyone being on lockdown—this feeling of literally feeling like, 'Fucking hell, when is this going to end?' And then there's another line, 'Staring at the window, just watching the rain,' that's just this feeling of being in an Edward Hopper painting. That song is, to me, this feeling of being in one of those paintings. You're in isolation, you're in lockdown—even if it was written before we were all in lockdown. In a funny way, we're all stuck in our bodies. So in a funny way, we are all on lockdown. And we've always been on lockdown and always will. And we're a long time in the ground. So get out there and do what you have to do, and do it well.”

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