Travis cap their comeback in Glasgow

NEVER mind the 12 days of Christmas, it might be the 12 albums of Travis.

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Travis are returning to Glasgow with a show at the Barrowland
Travis are returning to Glasgow with a show at the Barrowland

That's how long guitarist Andy Dunlop reckons the local heroes can go on for, after this year's Where You Stand album brought the band back after a five year gap.

Andy, singer Fran Healy, bassist Dougie Payne and drummer Neil Primrose will cap off their comeback year with two gigs tonight and tomorrow at the Barrowland.

And the guitarist believes they're ready for a new chapter of their career.

"After that break it now feels like we're into the second phase of the band," he explains.

"Fran always talked about how 12 albums would be a good goal to achieve as it would take a fair amount of space on a shelf up, so that's us on seven now."

The tale of Travis, from early years slogging away in Glasgow as Glass Onion through to massive success with second album The Man Who, from festival headliners to diminishing chart success on their last couple of records, is well told.

Where You Stand has marked a return to the spotlight, charting at No 3 and reverting to the classic, melodic sound that first helped them break through in the first place.

The record itself saw the band go back to basics - they didn't worry about an overall feel for the record, or where songs would go, and after years of following the gruelling album then tour then album cycle, it proved an enjoyable experience.

"The thing was, we never really talked about making another record," says Andy.

"You can get bogged down in making records and touring, and what we wanted was to get back to the original idea, which was just getting into a room together and playing.

"When you start a band you don't think about albums or the charts, you just like playing in a room together and writing a song, and if it goes well then you write another song.

"You're not thinking 'this'll be track five on the album' or how it will be played live, you're just doing it for the fun of doing it."

The fun of being in a band was something that had evidently slipped away in recent years.

"By the time of the Boy With No Name [in 2007], there's some great songs on it, but we kept going we need more singles, and you're chasing your tail in the end," says Andy.

"We were just exhausted at being in a business which was why we did Ode To J Smith [their rockier 2008 album]. That was a good palette changer and then when we did this record it felt like we could just be a band again."

Andy feels that their lengthy break came at the right time for them too, managing to sidestep any difficulties that might have been bubbling away.

"There's a point when you realise you have to step away from it," he recalls.

"When we stepped away before this break we'd have a really good American tour but we all thought for the health of the band and the health of ourselves it was time to step away.

"It's that thing where it's the intensity of touring and you're stuck in each other's pockets. We've been friends as long as we've been in the band, but it was time to become an individual again."

That also let the band enjoy time with their families too.

"We've all been spending a lot of time with our families during the break, so the roots are pretty strong there," adds Andy.

"It's still difficult to say to your kids you're going away for four weeks, but I think they understand now."

Suitably refreshed, the group are now clearly chomping at the bit for this weekend's festive gigs, returning to one of their favourite venues at the Barrowland.

It's a venue Andy loves as both performer and punter.

"The Barrowland is where I'd have been happy reaching as a band," he says.

"If I'd only got to play there once I'd have been happy. It's funny because you play all these amazing places around the world, and yet it comes back to the Barrowland because you can just picture the whole experience of it - I remember going to gigs there, queuing up, getting a carry-out after, and that makes it exciting."

There's also a festive feel in the air, and having covered several Christmas crackers in previous years the group are clearly full of Yuletide spirit.

"We've done Merry Christmas Everybody, Last Christmas and another couple, so I'm sure something will come up at the sound check to cover," he says.

"I'm quite a Christmassy person so I've had the CDs on in the car since the start of December - Slade's great, but Judy Garland singing Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas makes me feel the most Christmassy at the moment.

"Christmas always comes in waves, because when you have kids they get so excited about it and that makes you get excited."

n Travis, Barrowland, today/tomorrow, £25, 7pm.

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