Travis is the opening act on Oasis’ current North American tour, but evidence is mounting to indicate that it may not be long before the opener is hotter than the headliner. Oasis‘ latest effort, Standing on the Shoulder of Giants, is foundering at the record stores, with U.S. sales of only 117,000 since its release in February.
Travis’s second album, The Man Who, has been greeted with rave reviews – including a cover pronouncement by Q magazine that the quartet is “Britain’s favourite band.” Released 11 months ago in the band’s homeland, The Man Who has sold more than 2 million copies in the United Kingdom, has sold another 500,000 in the rest of the world, and was named the year’s best album by Q, New Music Express, Melody Maker, and Select. And though there’s been a perceptible buzz building around the band since The Man Who came out on these shores April 4, Travis frontman and songwriter Fran Healy – who watched his good friends Oasis rise and fall from favour – says he prefers a cautious perspective on such success.
“I’m constantly wary of that whole thing,” says Healy, 26, who co-founded Travis during the mid-’90s in Scotland. “It’s nice to be hyped and stuff, but look at the amount of things that are hyped that you never end up seeing. The chances of any band coming over from the United Kingdom and making a big dent in the United States is a small chance, really small. We’re totally aware of that.” But like Oasis, whose Noel Gallagher has been a Travis champion for quite some time, Healy says his band understands that the key to success in the States lies in visibility. “We got Epic [Travis‘ label] to set up as much work as we can possibly do,” Healy says. “By the end of each day, we’re collapsing and ready to log ourselves into some rehabilitation center somewhere. The thing is, it’s small steps. A small step in America looks massive in Britain. We have no illusion as to how far the journey can go over here; we always say we’re in it for the long run.
We’re in it for the songs, and if we keep coming back and coming back, we eventually should make a small dent.” Travis will be doing just that, with its own tour slated to star after its jaunt with Oasis ends.
Meanwhile, Healy says that the group plans to start recording its third album in September but is waiting for producer Nigel Godrich to finish working with Radiohead and taking advantage of the time to come up with more material. “I don’t mind waiting,” Healy says. “I want to write another six songs. I’ve got nine tracks, which comes out to about 27 minutes. That’s quite lean, you know?”