Isn’t it amazing how young they all looked when they were doing the promotional rounds for the  debut album?

Some of the members of what eventually became Travis actually started playing music together as far back as 1990 when they were at school.  The first name they played and recorded under was Glass Onion.   Theirs is a story of finding success the hard way, a number of years grafting away to refine and improve their playing and songwriting abilities, taking a lot of flak and criticism along the way.

Things began to change dramatically in 1996 when the decision was taken to reduce the size of the band by asking two of its founding members to leave, and at the same time, recruit a new bass player.  The same four musicians – Fran Healy (vocals/guitar/piano), Andy Dunlop (guitar), Neil Primrose (drums) and Dougie Payne (bass) have been together ever since.

Having attracted the attention of Andy MacDonald, formerly of Go! Discs and now the founder of Independiente Records (a minor label backed by the resources of the multinational Sony Records), they signed a deal that led to the release of the album Good Feeling in 1997.

It was an indie-rock record, one that wasn’t out of fashion with the times – Noel Gallagher declared himself a fan and Travis went on tour as support to Oasis – but it had very little to make it really stand out from the crowd and sales weren’t huge.

The Man Who was the next album, released in 1999.  It was a different beast altogether from the debut, with many of its songs being more downbeat, almost acoustic in nature.  But still, there was no real audience for their music.

Glastonbury 1999.  After two years of the festival being played in monsoon like conditions, the sun shone for the most part in 1999.  Except when Travis took the stage, which made it really ironic when they played the opening notes of their minor hit single Why Does It Always Rain On Me?.  The sort of moment which is loved by the media and the BBC , the broadcaster of choice at the festival, were all over it, turning the performance into a news story. And, in those pre social media days, where TV led, the newspapers followed.

Travis were now a household name.

The Man Who started to sell in greater numbers, eventually reaching #1.  The Brit Awards of 2000 declared it album of the year, while Travis took the best band trophy home, handing immediately to the landlord of the Glasgow city centre pub above whose premises Glass Onion and the early incantation of Travis had been allowed to graft away.  The trophy remained on display for many years.

It’s for reasons like this that it’s almost impossible to have any dislike for the band.  Their music might not be inspiring, but they are all really good people who, over the years, have put much back into the music scene in Glasgow and done some quietly effective work to bring positivity into poor and deprived communities.

They are now nine albums into their career, and while they don’t get anything like the audiences or attention they did at their peak, which was unarguably with the release of The Invisible Band (2003) which went on to sell 1.2 million copies in the UK alone, they still sell out decent sized venues, especially round these parts

mp3 : Travis – All I Want To Do Is Rock

The debut single on Independiente in June 1997.

It entered at #39 and dropped the following week to #73.   Success was still two years away.


4 thoughts on “SATURDAY’S SCOTTISH SONG : #350: TRAVIS

  1. The Man Who was a good record. Saw them open for Oasis and they won over the crowd, who hadn’t come to see them. Fell off my radar after that, so I’m glad to hear they’ve soldiered on and are still at it.

  2. Didn’t like the debut when it came out but have warmed to it over the years. ‘The Man Who’ is great – ‘Writing To Reach You’ is an absolute tune. Bit hit and miss after that album wise but still some great songs . Last album ’10 Songs’ is the most consistent thing they’ve released in years and definitely worth a listen/

  3. Agree that Writing To Reach You is a great tune. I hold Travis responsible for getting the idea into the head of my eldest that Dad listens to decent music. At the age of three, the newly-released Sing was his favourite song. We stood in a field in Cheshire in 2016 and watched them live – a great moment for us both.

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