“This is the most outward looking Travis record there’s ever been…” - hmv.com talks to Fran Healy
As Travis prepare to release their new album Everything At Once (which is available to preview and purchase on the right-hand side of the page), we spoke to frontman Fran Healy about recording in Berlin, why this album doesn’t mess about and the movie that they’ve made it go with it…
Your new album Everything At Once is out today! Has it been ready for a while?
“We finished it a year ago, almost a year to the day. We could have either rushed it out in October, or taken our time and I’m glad we’ve done that. This is the best work we’ve ever done, I’m so happy with everything, no rushing at the last minute, we’ve been able to dedicate so much time to everything.”
It’s out via your own label, in partnership with Universal, does that mean you get that much more control?
“It has positives and negatives. We’ve got pretty much complete autonomy, we’re on Caroline, which I think is the best label in the UK, they’ve been a life raft for all the best label types in the UK, it’s an amazing place. But the budgets are lower, so you have to be creative, but for us that’s perfect, we’re art school boys so we’re used to being put to work.”
How long did this album take to make?
“The last record took three weeks so this one took a bit longer. We did three short sessions this time, it was nine weeks broken in three, we got time in between to listen and reflect and decide what was working and what wasn’t. It was reminiscent of the way we did The Man Who, although that was more a case of get in when you can, rather than something so structured.”
You worked with Michael Ilbert, what was he like in the studio?
“He’s Swedish and they’re a terminally anal people, so he’s very exacting. We worked with Nigel Godrich over three or four albums and he’s incredible, so we needed someone on a par with that and Michael is. We went to Norway last time, but this time we recorded in Hansa Studios in Berlin which is where he has his studio and it was his home turf.”
How was it recording in Berlin?
“I live in Berlin, I’ve been there for eight years, so I was happy, but it’s a great studio. It’s where Bowie recorded Heroes and where U2 made Achtung Baby, so it’s a complex full of very cool ghosts. It’s also got apartments upstairs, which meant the rest of the band didn’t have to kip on my couch.”
How did you want this album to move on from Where You Stand?
“The only stipulation we gave ourselves was to make it snappy, to have songs that get straight to the point. Every song we sent to radio last time they asked us to edit out at least a minute and a half, so if you go in with that mentality then you can engineer songs. It’s better than recording songs and then having to saw off their arms and legs later on. We ran a very tight ship on this record, it’s 10 tracks, which is exactly how many we recorded.”
What kind of album is this lyrically?
“There’s not an overriding message, but there are some themes, I feel a bit like we’re stuck on our screens and not looking each other in the eye. We’ve never been more connected and we’ve never been more disconnected. This is the most outward looking Travis record there’s ever been, our older records have always been more inward looking.”
Where did the title come from?
“It’s from the song and I think it reflects the album really well. I feel like we’re bombarded by information and we need to slow it down a bit, so it comes from that. Also it sounds really cool, which is what you should do, pick something that sounds cool and then find a reason afterwards.”
Are you booked for many summer festivals?
“We’ve got a fair few festivals, we’re doing V Festival, we’re doing T In The Park and there’s murmurs of a Glastonbury thing, but that will be quite low-key if we do it at all.”
You’ve got eight albums now, how do you pick your setlist and fit in the new ones?
“The new songs are so quick and in and out that we can get eight of them done in 27 minutes, so we can do them and all the hits, it works out really well.”
Finally, you’ve made a movie to go along with album, how did that come together? And do you fancy branching out into movies properly?
“I feel a bit like it’s my degree show piece! I dropped out of arts school, but I can finish now! I’ve always wanted to make a movie and it’s turned out really well. I got all the best people from this German movie Victoria and I just cold-called them and asked for their help, and they all said yes. I’m so proud of it, I think it knits together all the songs really well. I’m too busy thinking about the band to consider making another movie, but I’d love to do it again one day.”