Travis Frontman Fran Healy Reflects on 'The Boy With No Name' Amid First-Ever Vinyl Re-Issue (Exclusive)

First bringing attention to the post-Britpop movement in the late '90s, the Scottish rock band Travis has sold millions of albums worldwide in their 25 years of music-making. Topping the charts with critically acclaimed tracks that continue to stand the test of time with old fans and new, the award-winning band is marking their latest relationship with Craft Recordings by re-releasing their 2007 album, The Boy With No Name. The album features two U.K. Top 30 hits with "Closer" and "Selfish Jean," and was the last with their previous label, Independiente.

Expressing how humbled and "fortunate" he was to work with Independiente at the time alongside his three bandmates, Dougie Payne, Andy Dunlop and Neil Primrose, Travis frontman Fran Healy tells exclusively the re-issues with Craft Recordings wouldn't have happened without them.

"I was speaking to the man that runs Craft and he was saying that our old record company guy had said, 'I'll only sell it if you look after Travis and you re-release and you do things,' so they made a kind of deal," Healy said in a conversation with PopCulture on May 21. "And so that's what got those guys to come for it because bands don't think strategically like that. We don't think, 'Oh, let's do that. That's a good idea.' We're just like dogs. We just want to get on the run in the park type of thing."

Fresh off the heels of the first re-issue of their 1997 record, Good Feeling last month with Craft Recordings, the songwriter adds how he's "really happy" the label is peering into the band's catalog while reiterating that the band is "involved completely in the release" of their own music. "It's a lot of fun and it's amazing to look back and look at pictures and videos and it's like, 'Wow, you realize how fortunate you are, really," Healy said.

With the first two re-issues — Good Feeling and The Boy With No Name — being 10 years apart from one another, Healy said there's a lot to look back at with the two albums years later, especially as it comes to the records' respective perspectives years later. Admitting there are "two sides" to it, Healy reflects on the band's production with Steve Lillywhite, who made "some of the biggest records" of his childhood as they traveled to upstate New York to record Good Feeling. "It was the most exciting fairytale," he said, adding how the studio they put the album together in was the same one graced by artists like R.E.M., Jeff Buckley and The Band. "It was just like, wow, mind-blowing."

After they recorded and finished, then mastered with Sterling Sounds, Healy said the experience "was amazing," especially as it was all completed and in the process of finalization. However, it didn't come without some disenchantment.

"Of course, you get the record finished; you do all the artwork, then you release it; you put the singles out and it didn't really hit," he said. "It was the time of Radiohead, The Verve, Cornershop, Manic Street Preachers, Oasis and we literally just — there was no room. It was like turning up to a party and it's rammed, and you just can't even get to the bar. And, that's what it felt like."

Admitting the band "moved away" from the sound and direction of Good Feeling, Healy most humbly states he still had "really good memories at the start of it, but then really sort of slightly sober memories of working so hard that it just never ever getting to people."

He continued: "For the longest time, I was looking through that feeling to try and get to the original feeling and you just, you don't see the original feeling. All you have is that slightly deflated, 'Oh, well' feeling. So going back to it, it's allowed me to forget about that feeling and go into this original one and go, 'Oh my God' and listen to the album again, because when you listen to a record and you've got that 'Eh' feeling, it colors the whole thing and you kind of go, 'These songs are s—' and you kind of go, 'Well, yeah, they probably are s—.'"

Sharing how he listened to Good Feeling almost three months ago, he says it was an "amazing experience" and one he sincerely appreciates. "[It was] so different from everything that went at the time. It wasn't Britpop because all our influences were American — like all of them. We recorded it in America. I mean, we're like an American band; we're even called Travis. Some people think we're an American band for some reason," he laughed. "So that was that."

(Photo: Craft Recordings)

Reflecting on The Boy With No Name, Healy admits it was "another sour memory" despite the record receiving critical acclaim and entering the U.K. album charts at No. 4. "The Boy With No Name was similar to Good Feeling in that it took forever to record it and the record company just hammered me and kept hammering and hammering for songs, more singles. 'We want more singles!'' he said, revealing on the very last day in the studio, when the band was done recording, the record company called asking for four more songs. "'I'm like f— off. No, just stop. We should just stop.' Then we brought out that record and there were lots of issues with staff at the record company and it was like, the quarterback threw the Hail Mary. Everywhere it was like, 'Here it comes, here it comes.' And just as it got to us, it just fumbled out of the fingers, and we fumbled it and we didn't get the touchdown."

However, Healy adds that when you look at the songs, that's the main thing. "You've got two sides to it. Like the dogs running in the park analogy is a really good one. Like some days, you don't get to run the park, but all this stuff is still there. You still have fun. And you're going on tour, and you do all of that," he said. "But the songs, that's the thing that runs through it all — is the songs. And they're still there and they still stand up, a lot of them."

Praised as one of Travis' most eclectic albums to date with an abundance of critical praise, The Boy With No Name is available to order now and features the singles "Closer," "Selfish Jean," and "My Eyes." The first-ever vinyl re-issue also comes with a bonus 7" of "Sailing Away," a song originally hidden as a bonus track on the album's CD release. Good Feeling, which hit the Top 20 in 1998 and includes hit singles "U16 Girls" and "Tied to the 90's," is also available.


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