Travis back in action and back in the U.S. after lengthy hiatus

Travis vocalist Fran Healy really hoped to lay low and blend in. He moved his family to Berlin, temporarily put his band on hiatus after blitzkrieg touring behind its sixth recording in 2008, and set aside songwriting to become more involved in his son Clay’s life.

He even competed in a 10K relay race to raise money for junior’s grade school.

“I had a leg injury, so it was like a scene from ‘Saving Private Ryan’ at the finish line,” he recalls. “So the past two years have been great, just hanging out with my son, being a father, and getting my hands dirty for the good of a normal life.”

But anonymity has eluded the secretive Scot. One of his son’s teachers recognized the rocker and asked him to write a new anthem for the school because it was changing its name, says Healy, who brings a newly reunited Travis to town this week. “So that kind of put me on the spot, and I was like ‘Oh, f—!’ But I said yes, and I wound up writing this really, really nice song for the school.”

Healy, 40, recorded the track, called “Berlin Bilingual,” and got German musician Herbert Gronemeyer to play piano and Pavement’s Steve Malkmus to play bass on it. He says, “Now it’s the official school song, and all the children sing it. It used to be that if people wanted to get something from the school, they could just buy T-shirts and this and that. But now they can get an amazing CD featuring a superstar band!”

And Travis has a great new record, “Where You Stand,” which recaptures the iridescent textural majesty of the quartet’s Britpop-“The Man Who” heyday.

Healy once composed everything. This time, credits are divided between him, guitarist Andy Dunlop and bassist Dougie Payne, who is also in family mode; he and actress wife Kelly MacDonald just had a baby.

Mortality is a recurring theme on “Stand,” as in Healy’s toe-tapping “Reminder,” which considers his own death. “It’s about not being here for Clay, and leaving a Ten Commandments list of rules for him to follow, so he’ll be OK,” he says. “And if he hears this song when I’m gone, maybe he’ll remember me by it.”



Where: Regency Ballroom, 130 Van Ness Ave., S.F.

When: 9 p.m. Saturday

Tickets: $35 to $38

Contact: (415 673-5716, www.axs.comAndy DunlopartsFran HealyPop Music & JazzTravis

Just Posted

Danielle Baskin, right, and friends hung a Halloween store banner on the sign of a mostly empty tech campus on Monday as a prank. (Photo courtesy Vincent Woo)
‘BOOgle!’ Pranksers wrap Google’s SF office park in ‘Spirit Halloween’ signage

The goof says it all about The City’s empty tech campuses

Alison Collins, a member of the San Francisco Unified School District Board of Education, listens during a board meeting. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Alison Collins speaks: Embattled SF school board member confronts the recall effort

‘It’s important for folks to know what this recall is about. It’s bigger than any one of us.’

Passengers board a BART train at Powell Street station on Friday, Oct. 23, 2020. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Powell Station death serves as a grim reminder. BART doors don’t stop for anyone

What you need to know about safety sensors on the trains

Is the Black Cat affair a distraction from the recovery of The City’s storied nightlife industry or does Mayor Breed’s behavior inadvertently highlight the predicament the industry’s been in since San Francisco reinstated indoor mask requirements on Aug. 20? (Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner, 2021)
Mayor Breed mask controversy highlights nightlife businesses’ plight

‘It’s what all the venues and bars are living every single day’

If he secured a full term in the Senate, Newsom would become the most powerful Californian Democrat since Phil Burton at the height of his career, or maybe ever. <ins>(Kevin Hume/The Examiner)</ins>

Most Read