Travis' Fran Healy on His Solo Record, Neko Case, and Hanging Out With Paul McCartney

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Fran Healy is best known as the frontman of the Scottish rock band Travis, as well as the man who popularized the faux-hawk in the late 90s and early 2000s. On October 5, Healy will release his first solo album, Wreckorder, which features guest spots by Neko Case and Paul McCartney; he's currently touring in support of the record and will be performing at the Triple Door this Wednesday night. Last week, I caught up with Healy on the phone while he was driving through the Midwest and had a conversation with him and his awesome and very thick Scottish accent. Here's what he had to say about writing the new record, meeting Neko Case, and becoming a vegetarian for Paul McCartney:

Why did you decide to do a solo record instead of a new Travis record?

I hate them. I hate all of my band. They're all wankers.

I don't believe you.

Everyone wanted time off last year. Everyone wanted a rest. The thought had never crossed my mind, but I wrote one song, "Holiday." And the thought occurred to me, I didn't really want to stop, I wanted to keep writing. I thought maybe if I did a solo thing it would invigorate my brain and inspire me. And I was right, it did.

What does "wreckorder" mean?

I wrote it in my journal, I thought it looked cool. I feel like it's wrecking the order, because I'm supposed to be doing Travis records. It fits the music as well.

How's Paul McCartney? Are you guys good friends?

We hang out all the time, hand in hand, down Savile Row. He's next to me right now, he's driving the car!

No, he's great. I met Paul in 1999, and I've met him over the last decade just in and out. London's a small place, and you get to know everyone, even Beatles. So I had this song ["As It Comes"], and I thought, I would love to have him. I'll chance him. So I sent him the song and he wrote back and he really liked it.

Did you write "As It Comes" with him in mind?

No, I wrote it, and it didn't have a bass playing on it, and I thought, "Oh, it sounds great without a bass playing in it!" But then I thought, "Actually it doesn't." And the best part is, he did it in his Sussex studio, and he used the Beatles bass, the bass that is on all of those [Beatles] songs.

I heard that you became a vegetarian through his influence?

Yeah, it was just to say thank you. I didn't know how to say thank you, because it's such a big deal for me. I'm a massive Beatles fan, a massive McCartney fan, and here he was playing on my record. And he's probably been given so many presents. He's probably got loads of unopened presents. I figured the gesture was maybe better, and I'd been thinking about doing it for ages. So I thought, why not? Let's go for it. Then I said to him, look, we're going to be vegetarians. And he's a big campaigner for animal rights and all these good things. He was stunned when I told him.

Have you stuck with it?

Yeah, I've totally stuck with it. In fact, I've been on detox for about 2 weeks now, and I'm not taking any dairy as well. And I feel great, actually. I feel like, wow, this is cool. I've been reading a little bit, I had a debate the other week with a friend about the dairy industry. I said, I eat eggs, and he said, oh you can't do that if you're a vegetarian. And then I looked into it, and I found the dairy industry and the fact that they kill a lot of the male chickens because they're useless, it's quite barbaric.

When you first said "dairy" I thought you were saying "dating."

Right, I gave up dating for Paul McCartney. My wife is really happy about that.

How did you hook up with Neko Case?

She played a gig in Berlin, that's where I live. And after the show I fought my way through the gaggle of admiring males and introduced myself. I said, "Hey, I'd love to do a duet with you, would you be interested?" And she said sure. So I went and wrote the song ["Sing Me To Sleep"]. I wrote that song specifically with her in mind. I wanted to do a song with a male part and a female part and then the chorus I wanted the male and the female to be in the same range, so you couldn't tell between them. And that's what we got.

What's your live show like? Are you playing some Travis stuff along with your solo material?

I do a mix, it has to be a mix. I'm going to play for about an hour and half, if people can take that amount of me. We did a show last November, it was an acoustic show with a PowerPoint lecture. I wanted to present the songs and say, here's the songs in chronological order, and here's where the songs came from. It was very successful. So I may incorporate a little element of that in it, because I really like the projector.

So you're going to give us a PowerPoint presentation? Like a business meeting?

Yeah, I'll be wearing my suit. I'll look like Charlie Sheen in Wall Street.

Fran Healy will perform at the Triple Door this Wednesday, August 18. The show is all ages, starts at 8 p.m., and tickets are $25. Click here to purchase.

 
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