Chart-topping Fran Healy is on the move again – but he’s still not coming home to Glasgow.
“Scotland is where I’m from and where my mates and my family are from,” explained the Travis singer. “But I have a wanderlust and I don’t know if I’ll ever go back there to stay.”
The globetrotting singer-songwriter travels the world touring with his band – this month they are playing gigs in Mexico – but, after spending the first 23 years of his life in Glasgow, he moved to London in 1996. New York and Berlin have also been homes for him, and he’s currently based in Los Angeles – but not for much longer.
The star put his leafy 1920s gated and fenced mansion up for sale, complete with views over the city, three bedrooms and an open-air meditation house.
“Los Angeles is my chance for a bit of sun,” he told The Sunday Post.
“You can pick an orange right off the tree and eat it. That sounds like a simple thing, but not if you are from Glasgow.
“Usually I stay for 10 years in any one place – I think that’s a good long time. When I moved from Glasgow to London, I stayed for 10 years in Crouch End. Then, in 2008, we moved to Berlin. In 2017, we moved to LA.
“If you can do it, it’s a great way to live, and being in a band means it’s easy to move because I can write a song anywhere.”
Living in Los Angeles also made sense, given how much time the band spends over there.
“We were once in LA for three months recording an album,” he recalled.
“I was staying in a hotel all that time and the bill at the end for extras like bacon and eggs, the odd beer and phone calls came to thousands and thousands of dollars. Some might call it a rock-star life, but really it was just breakfast.”
Fran has been on the move since he was a baby. He moved to Glasgow from Stafford in 1973 with his mother, Marion, after his parents split up.
At first, he lived in Maryhill with his grandparents, then he and Marion found a home in Possilpark and finally Cathcart, in the city’s south side. Famously, the Horseshoe bar in Glasgow is where Travis rehearsed their earliest songs.
When the band started to make it big, they headed south to London, where the Driftwood singer found a home in North London, before upping sticks to Germany to be closer to his German wife Nora’s mother and bring up their son, Clay, now a teenager.
“I liked German straightforwardness, but they didn’t get my jokes,” he complained, good-naturedly.
“Germans don’t get sarcasm so my friends would say to me, ‘Why are you saying the opposite thing of what you really mean?’
“I don’t think I will ever go back to London either,” he continued.
“Wherever I go, the people I’m with travel with me, but I don’t get attached to places. I get more attached to people. I am going to keep on moving.”
The restless star is also keen to stretch himself creatively. As well as singing and performing, he paints and writes.
He’s also directed music videos, made a 30-minute promotional film for the band’s eighth album, Everything at Once, and has directed and produced a documentary about the band’s relationship with their devoted fans, called Almost Fashionable, which whittles down more than 80 hours of footage from a 10-day tour into a one-hour documentary to be screened by Sky Arts over Christmas.
Some have said all you need to know about Travis is that Chris Martin once described them as “the band that invented Coldplay”.
“We get called the nicest band in Britain,” said Fran, cheerfully. “I’m fine with that because we are nice people, but of course there’s more to Travis than that.
“We’re an odd band, we’re an outsider band. People have tried to write about us but never nailed it , so eventually, I said, ‘well, we’ll have to make it ourselves’,” he laughed.
“I’m probably the best person to do it because I know the band better than anyone. I’m the linesman, the goalie, and the referee – I keep an eye on the ball. And I’m uncomfortably honest!”
For other uncomfortable insights, he turned to journalist Wyndham Wallace, who followed the band from gig to gig, interviewing Fran, bassist Dougie Payne, guitarist Andy Dunlop and drummer Neil Primrose.
Surprisingly, Wyndham is not a longtime friend – or even a Travis fan.
“I was in Berlin on a night out, when I bumped into Wyndham,” says Fran.
“At the end of the night he said, ‘I’m not a fan of your band. I don’t like your work’.
“He was very polite about it, and I wasn’t surprised by this. I’ve heard it before – sometimes it’s the first thing people say to me. But when I was thinking about doing the film, I thought it would be more interesting to have a journalist along who didn’t love us.”
Will Wyndham be charmed by Travis by the end of the documentary? That’s one of the big reveals of Almost Fashionable – along with Fran’s surprise when Dougie, his friend of 30 years, reveals he suffered from stage fright.
“I would never have guessed,” admitted Fran. “When we’re onstage, Dougie always looks super-confident thrashing about the stage.
“I’ve always said the most frightening bit is behind the curtain when you peek through and see everyone waiting. But once you get out there it’s fine, because Travis means you have your friends around you.”