What do we correlate Travis with? Early 200s nostalgia of low-rise jeans and pencil thin eyebrows or that one track about ‘Raining On Me’ downloaded on your ipod? I think we can all admit we remember them for those ever so obsolete, yet simpler times. One thing I’ve always given Travis great credit for, alongside their diligence for writing respected tunes, is their broad-minded eye for creativity and artistry when it comes to their music videos. Just look at ‘Sing’, that chaotic food fight that the band got into at that bizarre dinner party that bagged them a nomination for ‘Best British Video Of The Year’ at the 2002 Brit Awards. Are they still pushing boundaries in the midst of the expression-filled engine that drives the car known as 21st Century rock? Of course they are and with their most innovative, invigorating and eerie video yet, ‘A Ghost’ could be Travis’s most exciting project to date!
‘The video started out as a mocked up picture of me and three ghosts playing the last chorus of the song in a deserted alleyway.’ Fran Healy spoke on how he created the collection of striking sketches that became what the spectacle of a project is now . ‘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, so I decided to draw it. It worked out that it would take around 30 days, with 2,500 drawings.’ The Travis frontman constructed the clip with help of his 14 year old son and his drone. It looks like the flair for abstract thinking runs in the Healy family and what an exceptional path it’s led itself down to create the ‘A Ghost’ music video. It’s hard to say what can be grasped from beginning to end or what the real meaning is that the band is trying to express. It ventures what seems to be the story of a man in a fiery red jumpsuit being followed by an abundance of ghosts through a series of incredibly drawn landscapes and notably ghoulish backgrounds. In an interview with the NME, Fran stated that the track was about ‘looking at yourself in the mirror and seeing the ghost of someone.’
Almost like Travis is giving off a Bloody Mary vibe with this fairly frightful film. Putting the message to one side, I noticed a still from one of the drawings that reminded me of the famous 1942 ‘Nighthawks’ oil painting by Edward Hopper. Perhaps Healy drew some unusual inspiration from the New York artist for this pulse-pounding project. Nevertheless, what I could gather from this video was the idea of someone being constantly reminded of something in their past, whether that be a person or a memory. I got the impression that by the end of the well-composed clip, the man had learned to live with these ‘ghosts’ where we eventually see none other than the very alive and thriving members of the Scottish rock group, proving their message to be: learn to ‘live with your demons’ whatever they may be?
With compelling charm and a beautifully haunted set of illustrations, Fran clearly knows how to put pen to paper in more ways than just lyrics. Personally, I really enjoyed the ‘A Ghost’ video. It kept me captivated right to the end, which for any band is difficult. I usually would assume I’d got the gist and would click off after two minutes but in ‘A Ghost’, I remained eager to see what would be dabbled with in the cauldron known as Fran Healy and the group’s ingenious thoughts when it comes to music.
In terms of the actual song, it complements the video gorgeously with Fran Healy’s classic vocals and heavy drums that blend together elegantly rather than them competing for the spotlight on the track. While it does stick to that familiar Travis sound we all know and love, it certainly branches out into a different element of their discography and shows they’re still testing the waters and not just playing it safe by putting out a ‘Greatest Hits’ and hoping it sells. I was surprised by how modern it sounded and how I could imagine Sam Fender or Catfish and The Bottlemen on the track. It was refreshing to see the group progress from tunes like ‘Flowers In The Window’ to this more unconventional project that we wouldn’t expect from them. Most people may feel in order to really remain their relevance, they should have done something more radical or pushed the boat out further but Travis are a band who are loved for what they are and I believe they did just the right amount of musical shift in order to keep their die hard fans happy and intrigue a wider audience…
And what’s a great new video without a brand new release to go with it? Well, the band are putting out a fresh album for the October of 2020 with ‘10 Songs’. Ten fresh tracks including none other than ‘A Ghost’ will be available to listen to on the 9th of October 2020. It’s been twenty five years since the band got back into a rehearsal room and in the Autumn of this year, you’ll be able to hear exactly what their comeback has to offer.
‘10 Songs’ comes available as Standard CD, Heavyweight vinyl plus Deluxe 2CD and Deluxe 2LP (red and blue vinyl) including 10 Demos. The band’s official store features exclusive merch bundles, Cassette and highly limited edition signed TPs. Pre-Order 10 Songs HERE.
Article by Holly Turner.