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Now Hear This: Travis | 10 Songs

Fran Healy & co. spike their moody pop with a dash of rock crunch on their ninth LP.

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THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Beloved Scottish band Travis are back with their ninth studio album 10 Songs. Co-produced by both frontman Fran Healy and Robin Baynton (Coldplay, Florence & The Machine), and recorded at RAK Studios as 2019 turned into 2020, 10 Songs is an album about the way life comes at love and what love does to weather those challenges. It’s grown-up. There’s sizzling synergy in abundance, and many of its songs benefit from the almost psychic sense of mutual attunement that comes from being in a band whose line-up hasn’t changed in its entire collective lifetime. There are also inspired cameos to be found, including synth work from Grandaddy’s Jason Lytle, lap steel from Greg Leisz (Beck, Emmylou Harris, Bruce Springsteen) and vocals from Susanna Hoffs of The Bangles that came about from a chance exchange on Twitter.

It’s been 25 years since the four members of Travis first set foot in a Glaswegian rehearsal room. At various points along the trajectory between then and now, the band have sold millions of albums, they’ve been the subject of the award-winning feature length documentary Almost Fashionable and Fran has elicited acclaim from Paul McCartney, Elton John and Graham Nash — all songwriters whose ability to divine a timeless melody out of thin air has sustained them through the decades. And today marks another new chapter in the band’s extraordinarily prolific and unflappable career. 10 Songs is yet another body of work that showcases Travis as one of the U.K.’s finest songwriting exports.

Of the intensive work that went into making the video for A Ghost, Fran says: “The video for A Ghost started out as a mocked-up picture of me and three ghosts playing the last chorus of the song in a deserted alleyway. It looked cool so I took that image and back engineered a story out of it. Just when everything was ready to shoot, the world went into lockdown, so we had this great song with no way to make a video. Frustrated and in an act of desperation, I decided to draw it. I did a test to calculate how long it might take me. 16 hours for each, 10 seconds of footage. It worked out that it would take around 30 days which landed exactly on the deadline date. So I drew and drew and drew and drew. 2,500 drawings later, it was done.”

He continues: “One day, I was watching a sequence back and when it got to the end of what I had drawn, it flashed and went into live action. It looked great. This was the moment I realised I could shoot the mock-up picture of me playing with my band of ghosts in the alleyway. This helped in three ways: 1. Filming the last 47 seconds would save me 10 days of drawing. 2. I could recruit my 14-year-old son Clay as the cameraman. He has a drone camera so could shoot it remotely and could use it as part of his school video project 3. Most importantly, we could film it socially distant. It was the most bizarre video shoot I have ever worked on. You realise how important proximity is to getting things done when it’s taken out of the equation. But we did it and it turned out great. Clay has to wait till we release the song to hand in his video project.”