He gave a beautiful acoustic set in a church at the Culture Collide Music Festival sponsored by Toyota ANTICS and FILTER Magazine in Los Angeles, and the warm temperature of the day had not left yet the building at 10 pm which made Fran talked about the heat. The frontman of Travis is Scottish and lives now in Berlin, so he probably rarely gets temperatures like this in October. He was wearing a Black Flag tee-shirt under his jacket, and this was a little unexpected for a guy who writes melodies so lush and soft.
He began by a Travis song, a sort of ‘security blanket’ as he put it, but he asked us to ‘be gentle with the new songs’. But there was no danger seeing the loving crowd packed in the church becoming hotter and hotter by the minute. He began talking how he wrote this song (which was ‘Writing to reach you’) just after being dumped by his girlfriend, and kind of stealing the chords from ‘Wonderwall’ of Oasis. Travis went on tour with Oasis two years after, and apparently Noël Gallagher never noticed since he proclaimed his ‘fucking’ admiration to Fran for the song.
This is the kind of stories I was talking about, and Fran has a lot of them under his sleeve, and he visibly enjoys telling them. The public listens, laughs, and enjoys them too.
His new songs are beautiful to listen to, his voice, ranging from a high falsetto to a deeper tone, seemed to be his main instrument there, and the soothing effect it gave tonight had nothing to do with the fact we were in a church.
His new album ‘Wreckorder’ has just been released last week, and he considers the new songs as ‘little babies’. In ‘Anything’, he made me dream about Thom Yorke with his high-pitched voice, whereas he used a more plaintive and lamenting tone over a monochord high tuned guitar to sing ‘Sing me to Sleep’, which is in fact on the album a duet with Neko Case, whom he asked to sing with him as if he were asking for a date.
He had a good story for ‘As it comes’, since he asked Paul McCartney to play the bass for this song. McCartney said yes, and Fran did not know what to do to thank him; yes, what do you give to Paul McCartney? So he said he decided to become vegetarian, and Mcca, visibly happy, sent him right away three Linda’s veggie cookbooks. The song has this Beatles-que melody, mixed with a little something else, almost Cohen-esque.
He sang a few more Travis songs, like ‘Dear diary’, the very well-known ‘Sing’, and ‘The Humpty Dumpty Love Song’, before exploring more his new album with the nostalgic ‘Rocking chair’, and ‘Buttercups’, which he described as the most poppy of the album, perfectly cut for the conservative radios as he put it. He ended up his set with another Travis song, the soulful, fast strumming guitar ‘Driftwood’.
His new songs may be little newborns but actually you could not tell them apart from the Travis ones, after all they belong to the same person, the same very friendly guy.