The original Invisible Band are back in the limelight after nearly three years on a journey of self-discovery.
Scottish band Travis pumped out hit after hit in the Nineties and Noughties in the pre-Coldplay era and then all of a sudden things went a bit quiet.
Frontman Fran Healy explained: “We toured the last record, ‘An Ode to J. Smith’, for two years, and then we all went our separate ways. We did it so we could hang out with our families and our kids.”
Since Fran, Andy Dunlop and Neil Primrose formed the band in 1990, with Dougie Payne following in 1994, the group had spent almost every day together.
Fran said: “It’s like you become a quarter of yourself, or take on a quarter of the other three’s personalities.
“These past two-and-a-half years, we all caught up with ourselves, so when we did come back together, we needed to get to know each other again.
“We had to spend time catching up with the people we hadn’t been able to become when we were in the band together.”
He says they didn’t really sit down to talk about taking a break, it just seemed a natural step. At an intimate London gig earlier this year Fran said of the band’s hiatus: “What’s the point of being in a band as big as Travis if you can’t have a break? What’s it all for?”
When it came to writing what would become ‘Where We Stand’, they started rather unconventionally.
“You know that thing where you draw the head of someone on a piece of paper, fold it over, and pass it on to someone else and they have to draw the next part of the body without looking at what you’ve done?” he asks. “Well, that’s sort of what we did for the album.”
On all their previous albums, Fran, a self-confessed benevolent dictator, would write and record demos of all the tracks, and then take them to the rest of the band to flesh out. But he didn’t want to do that any more.
Healy admits they ended up with a lot of “garbage”, but they did take two songs from it, ‘Boxes’ and ‘The Big Screen’. More importantly, it got them working in new ways.
While so much has changed since Travis withdrew from the spotlight, Fran reckons some things are exactly the same.
“It feels like it did in 1996, when we were coming to London for the first time to write songs, at the height of Britpop,” he says. “We’d written in quite a solitary place, conserving energy and we were ready to go.
“It’s a bit like that now. We’ve recharged, refuelled, and we’re ready to go again.”