Travis on recording their first album: 'It was weird and magical'

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Back in 1995, Scottish rock band Travis signed their first record deal and were whisked away to the US to make their debut album, Good Feeling.

And for the four friends, it was a massive excitement, with lead guitarist Andy Dunlop describing the experience as “dreamlike”.

Speaking on White Wine Question Time, Dunlop said their time recording at the infamous Beardsville studios near Woodstock, New York was truly amazing.

“That whole journey of Bearsville was just the weirdest, most amazing, most magical one,” he told host Kate Thornton.

“Everything was like nothing you've ever seen in your life before.”

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Bearsville was opened in 1969 and a whole range of famous artists from Bob Dylan to Jeff Buckley have recorded there. For the boys from Travis, it really was like a dream come true.

“We were massive fans of The Band who made loads of their music there — and Dylan — in Bearsville, upstate New York,” said Dunlop.

“The whole experience itself, as well as making the music, was just dreamlike.”

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Recording with legendary producer Steve Lillywhite, who had worked with industry giants like U2, Peter Gabriel and Morrissey, the band said making their first album was exciting, but there was also other stuff that was amazing to the group.

“I remember like me and Neil [Primrose] got off the plane and the guy that picked us up — he was like this sort of ex New York cop — he opened the glove compartment to show me and Neil the biggest gun I have still seen in my life,” recalled Dunlop.

Travis, photographed back in 1997, made their first album in legendary studio Bearsville in Woodstock, New York (Photo by Martyn Goodacre/Getty Images)
Travis, photographed back in 1997, made their first album in legendary studio Bearsville in Woodstock, New York (Photo by Martyn Goodacre/Getty Images)

“It was like a pistol, but you needed two hands to pick it up!”

And it didn’t stop there – even the food was exciting.

Dunlop said, laughing: “I remember getting into the first house, we stayed in and getting all American cereals, and we were just ‘Woah!’ Just basically solid sugar in a bowl!”

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Next month, the band are re-issuing their first album on vinyl, and for singer Fran Healy, it’s reminded him of just how lucky they were as young twenty-somethings.

“We just went from signing on the dole to being in one of the best studios in the world, like within months, and with Steve Lillywhite, one of the best producers in the world recording our first album, and you'll never get that opportunity again,” he exclaimed.

The band, who have twice won the Best British Group at the BRITS, said the best thing about doing what they do is hearing that their songs mean something to people out there.

“We're very lucky that we've got a handful of really well-known songs and they’ve sound-tracked people's lives and deaths and births and all kinds of things,” said Healy.

“And really you couldn't hope for anything better than that when you're recording artists.”

Hear Fran Healy and Andy Dunlop discuss which Whitney Houston song they wished they’d written on the latest episode of White Wine Question Time. Listen now on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.

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