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What's new in iJamming!...
Tue, Oct 23, 2001
ECHO & THE BUNNYMEN: "Flowers is Echo & The Bunnymen's finest hour since Ocean Rain."
HEDONISM:
An intrigue of early 90s New York nightlife.
NEW CHAPTER now online
From the Jamming! Archives:
U2 interviewed in 1984.
"It's not U2 that's creating this great art. . .There's something that works through us to create in this way."
MUSING ON A SEPTEMBER MOURNING
PART1:
My immediate reaction to September 11
PART 2: Messages from friends & family overseas
PART 3: Observations & quotes from others.
PART 4: LINKS
PART 5: COPING - 2 weeks later
iJamming! Wino/Muso:
JOHN ACQUAVIVA
"New world wines are just too techno for me."
Featured albums
(Hub, Slumber Party, DJ Harry, Spearhead, The Who tribute
)
Albums that sound different since September 11
(Charlatans UK, Arabian Travels, Cafe del Mar, Sugarcult)
Featured wine region 3:
SOUTHERN RHÔNE WHITES
Featured wine region 4:
SOUTHERN RHÔNE ROSÉS
iJamming! interview:
Jesse Hartman, aka LAPTOP
"Every New York band knows the meaning of failure"
MIX Albums:
Who, what and why you should bother (DB, Spooky, Jody, RSW, Bad Boy Bill)
FEATURED Wines (Langlois Cremant de Loire, Honig Sauvignon Blanc, Campbell's Muscat, Brumont Gros Manseng, Dr Frank Gewürtztraminer, Daubree CoteRotie, Dry Creek Chenin Blanc, Mas Saint Laurent Picpoul, Quivira Dry Creek)
The iJAMMING! interview: DAVID SYLVIAN
"I don't think people realize that life can become so exciting and interesting that it can draw you away for long periods of time from creating music - & why not?"
From the Keith Moon archives:
the JEFF BECK interview .
From Homework to the Disco:
DAFT PUNK
grows up and dumbs down
The iJAMMING! chat:
MARK PERRY

"If I was asked why Sniffin' Glue was so important, it was the way we conducted ourselves, the style of it, just the attitude. It had attitude in abundance didn't it?"
The Return of Shoegazing:
DOVES take New York by swarm
Forgotten Classics:
THE CHILLS: Brave Words
THE iJAMMING! Book Review:
SNIFFIN' GLUE: The Essential Punk Accessory
Musing with SALLY TAYLOR:
"I'm not interested in what the major labels have to offer."
From the JAMMING! archives: PAUL WELLER ON POP
Featured wine region 2:
CÔTES DU RHÔNE VILLAGES
From the JAMMING! archives: ALTERNATIVE TV
interviewed in 1978
TRAVIS.
Fran Healy explains why "you cannot own a song." (And why Liam Gallagher "is going to turn into a really great songwriter.")
Featured Artist Web Site:
LLOYD COLE
From the JAMMING! archives: The Story That Spawned Creation
Featured vine:
VIOGNIER:
Finally, a worthy rival to Chardonnay.
The iJAMMING! interview:
BOY GEORGE.
"Once you've had your go, what-ever it may be, they want you to piss off, and they can't bear it if you come back, they can't bear it."
SUPERDRAG
They love rock'n'roll but they don't want to deal with the hassle
From the JAMMING! archives: RAYMONDE in 1985
The full iJamming! Contents
The iJAMMING! interview!
FRAN HEALY from TRAVIS
Back in April, shortly after seeing Travis play for the first time at the Bowery Ballroom, I interviewed the group's loquacious front man Fran Healy for a Newsday story. The feature - a preview for their New York show at Radio City opening for Oasis - needed just 500 words and ten minutes together would have sufficed, but we got so engrossed in conversation that when his his publicist tried to cut us off and keep him on schedule, Fran asked her to rearrange his next interview and allow us to keep going. (She obliged.) We ended up talking for an hour - Fran is an interview's dream, even if he is a little fond of his candy-covered sugar coated metaphors! - and I'm happy to run the transcript here in near entirity.


Photo from the Travis web site
www.travisonline.com

At the time of our chat, Travis were in the awkward position of opening for a band they had just unceremoniously knocked off the UK #1 spot - with an album that had been out for nine months (as opposed to Oasis' one week!) - and who they were also outselling in the USA. This probably explains why Fran was so vocally supportive of Oasis throughout the interview - down to defending Liam's songwriting - despite the fact that many of his comments appeared to verify my belief that Travis are the antithisis of the Mancunian former giants. One difference he certainly couldn't disagree with: Fran is one of rock's all-round nice guys, and he is not going to allow sudden fame and fortune to change that. I think he's more than intelligent enough to know that his easy-going everyman demeanour explains a large part of Travis' enormous popularity.


How's the tour going so far? (Ouch! The interviewer's casual opener, to be interpreted either as a facile effort to be friends or a warning that the tough questions will come later, once the interviewee's guard is down!)

Absolutely brilliant. We started in Seattle two weeks ago today. We've been in Europe and it's quite draining there because day to day you're going from one place to another and you have to go through the language change, and when you're doing interviews you have to explain yourself four times so that they understand what you're talking about and it's kind of a drain, and so I've been looking forward to coming over to America because there's a common language, and it's a big place, and it's like the impossible task to take your thing and try and take it to as many people as impossible - and I kind of like impossible tasks.

I've lived here long enough to become an old hand at seeing bands come to America, get a buzz and...

...Fall away again.

Yeah.

I'm expecting that's what's going to happen. I'm under no illusions. I've set my sights on something that's not an overnight thing. It never is. Especially if you're from Britain. The thing is you've got to not set your goal at countries, but set your goal at how many songs you're going to write, how many albums you're going to put out, because if you just set your goal on that then you just keep doing it and doing it and doing it and eventually you'll hit the big giant egg with the tiny little toffee hammer and it will crack! After about a million times!

I think one of the things that has often been a downfall for British bands in America - and I know Scotland tends to be different from the rest of the British Isles in this respect - is that the kind of lovable arrogance that British bands have often works against them in America. The bands don't realize that Americans have heard it so many times before.

It's like England is defined. Scotland is defined by tartan and bagpipes and 'och aye the noo,' the accent and all that. And England is defined by lager and music and soccer. So when music comes over, it's like when soccer comes over, it's not the same because it's part of a country's cultural identity, so it carries a certain sound, it has a certain emotion behind it that Americans maybe don't get. There is a slight difference with us, I don't think we sound particularly English. That really went against us in Britain, massively, even on 'The Man Who,' the reviews we received were fucking abysmal, but eventually it was played on the radio and that was the big difference.

I think historically, Scottish bands concentrate more on the song. English bands have a lot more artifice to them. That's not meant in a negative sense, but English bands understand the appeal of artifice whereas Scottish bands seem to be much more about the song.

The thing is that in Glasgow when we were growing up as a band, we weren't cool. We just weren't. So the only thing we had to put everything into was the song. That was the only thing we could do. I always thought, Well, if we look shit and we don't talk the right talk, we don't have the right attitude onstage, that may come eventually, but if it doesn't, you put all your eggs in one basket. You've got to. And hopefully that will work. The thing is usually if you do that, it takes twice as long. And it did. It took ten years from starting in a band to getting to number one in Britain, that was ten years. That's a long time for some people but it's kinda cool, because that's ten years practicing writing, ten years picking up on other peoples mistakes and saying 'I won't do that,' ten years making your own mistakes and saying 'I won't do that again.' And it all eventually comes around. We've always concentrated on the song, as you point out.


Photo from the Travis web site
www.travisonline.com
"When I hear a tune on the radio, I don't go 'Wow, who is that?' I think, 'What is that?' I've never been interested in the band, because bands come and go. Travis will come and go."

Some people have the impression you're overnight success.

Sort of we are. When it happened, it went through the roof in a matter of weeks, The album came out in May and within thriteen weeks it had got to #1 and after that, that's when it went fucking mental.

So with the benefit of hindsight, can you figure out why?

Why? I still can't figure out why! I put it down just to the songs getting on the radio. There's a weird sort of phenomenon that I reckoned happened with it. It wasn't so much the band. The record company at the end of the year did a little bit of market research, and they realized that people didn't really know who Travis were, (they didn't know) the people in Travis. They knew who Travis were but they just connected it purely with what they heard on the radio. And that's what we were selling records on. Because the videos, though we're in them, we weren't lip-synching, and something as simple as that makes people think that's not the band, they're actors. It's weird. I think what happened was radio just played it. And people heard the songs then they heard the next song then they heard the next song and the next song and eventually they were like, 'That will be quite a good record if I get it. It will be good value for money.' so they went out and got it.

All of that plays into my own instincts that you sold to a lot of people that don't normally buy records.

Exactly. I always think that's what a crossover is. You get a bunch of the tastemakers buying it first. We didn't get that, we didn't get the tastemakers. We sold about 100,000 records to kids who had picked up on it. But the style magazines - The Face, Dazed and Confused - they fucking hated us. They still do. Because we don't follow their game, this artifice fucking vibe. So you're right, absolutely right. I don't buy records, that's the mad thing. I don't. I never have. But I will buy one or two records a year. And if someone who writes songs is like that you'll just appeal to the same kind of people as you are yourself, and I'm in that same 90% of people who don't buy records, and if you do cross over you're in a massive big giant arena.

Yeah, because for all the comparisons that come up - Radiohead of course being one - the thing that struck me was that you maybe crossed over in a way that the Beautiful South did in the UK. They're a similar group, very unfashionable but sell to a lot of people who don't normally buy records.

I know I know. It's just that thing, it's just good songs. The thing is, there is a similarity, but all bands are different. But I don't really think about bands myself. I just like hearing songs. When I hear a tune on the radio, I'm like, what, that's fucking brilliant, I don't go wow, who is that, I think, what is that? It's brilliant! I never been interested in the band, because bands come and go. Travis will come and go.

Well that answers the next question. Because obviously if you're selling to people who don't normally buy lots of records then they're not going to have loyalty to you next time out.

Exactly.

And that's fine with you?

Absolutely, because I would say in that case you've got to keep writing good songs , and that's a good trap to be in. You see, I get annoyed, because I think the record industry is set up totally stupidly, because you'll get a lot of bands who are selling a big lot of records, and then they'll sell another big lot of records just because that's who it is. Not because that song is excellent, people just stupidly buy it. That's just the way it is. Consumers are consumers, and consumers are usually really daft. I'm consumer and I'm really daft. The amount of things I have in my house that I don't need! The point is, wouldn't it be great if every band did one album deals? And they'd have to go and try and get a deal every single time they tried to put an album out, instead of this stupid five album record deal bullshit. This means that for us, I have to go sit in a room and go, 'for fuck's sake,' and even if it's a mental thing, just in my own mind, it means I'll make a massive effort, to try and not get better as a songwriter, but just try to make songs and try to push it out a little bit further.


What you're saying makes sense in many ways, but it doesn't jibe with the issue of being in a band. What you're saying would make sense for a soloist who says 'I know I'm only as good as my last album,' but you're also in a rock band with a steady lineup. So you've got to have some of that band loyalty thing going.

We do. But we're just loyal to the song. That's the mad thing. We're all just loyal to that one thing. And we're hanging on to it for dear life because when it's gone, it's fucking gone, you know what I mean? I've always felt with the band, I never had any doubts, and eventually when it all happens, you don't feel in any surprised by it. You're just like, when you sit in a room and you get a little song and it's delivered to you perfectly, and you're just like 'Fuck!' I think to myself, 'that's not mine.' This is the point. I think a lot of bands think, 'that's mine,' like it's an ownership thing, and that is just the stupidest concept. You cannot own a song. You may get paid for it, but I can't equate money either with these beautiful little things. So therefore these little songs go out and get on the airwaves and are listened to by millions and millions of people, and that's what you've got to do: you've got to take that little song and get it to as many people as possible, because I think songs are quietly subversive. They're amazing little things are that are totally underestimated by the people who sell them, like the record industry. They sell them like they're toffee.

Yes they do. Particularly at the moment.

Exactly. Because that's basically what it is. It's like all the wrapping paper is all shiny and attractive, but the chocolate bar in the middle is a piece of shit really. It's junk music, we're living in a junk culture. That's why it's very difficult for band who make proper songs because when you take a proper song to a radio station who's predominantly playing junk music, they'll say 'oh, it doesn't fit.' Not because it's shit, but because it doesn't fit in with all this mad, two-headed three-armed freak music.

Part 2

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