Dougie Payne, (seen here on the right), bassist with Scottish rock band Travis, chats with Kevin Cooper about his traditional family Christmas, being supported by Turin Brakes, playing The Man Who in its entirety, and their forthcoming tour of the UK

Dougie Payne is the bassist with Scottish rock band Travis. When his old friend, Fran Healy formed a band called Glass Onion, Payne joined him. That band subsequently became Travis.

Travis released their debut album, Good Feeling in 1997, to moderate success where it debuted at number nine in the UK Albums Chart. They went on to achieve greater international success with their second album, The Man Who which was released in 1999, and which spent nine weeks at number one in the charts and sold over 2.68 million in the UK alone. That success was replicated with their third album release, The Invisible Band, which saw the BPI award the band with a four times platinum certification for the album.

With singles such as Writing To Reach You, Driftwood and Why Does It Always Rain On Me? Travis has recently toured America and have played The Man Who in its entirety to celebrate the approaching twentieth anniversary of its release.

With a forthcoming tour of the UK at the end of the year, Dougie Payne took some time out from his Christmas shopping to have a chat with Kevin Cooper and this is what he had to say.

Hi Dougie how are you?

I’m good thank you Kevin how are you?

I’m very well thank you and before we move on let me thank you for taking the time to speak to me today.

It’s no problem, it’s my pleasure.

And just how is life treating you at this moment in time?

I have to say that all is very good. I am just in the process of starting to prepare for Christmas because touring in December knocks all of your plans out of sync for Christmas shopping so I am having to get all of that together before we start. But yes all is good thank you. Since we finished the first leg of the tour back in September I have been keeping myself busy by writing a few songs in my little cubbyhole here at home (laughter). Having said all of that I really am looking forward to getting back out on the road and finishing the British tour.

I just have to pick you up on one thing. Do you not do your Christmas shopping on Christmas Eve like the rest of us men (laughter).

Yes that’s right, I am a terrible ‘last minute shopping’ person so this year I am trying not to be that guy (laughter). I am really, really trying. I’ve got to get a turkey in, I’ve go to do the cooking, so there is a lot to get done.

As long as you don’t buy flowers from the petrol station it usually works (laughter).

(Hysterical laughter) that’s true, that is very true. All is good and as I say, I am just gearing myself up to being back in the road.

We have to talk about the album The Man Who, can you believe that it is rapidly approaching its twentieth anniversary?

To be honest with you it feels really strange. It suddenly dawned on me that we have been together as friends for almost thirty years which I have to say is terrifying (laughter). We met when we were eighteen back in 1990 so it is twenty-eight years that we have been together as pals which I find extraordinary. The album however is a funny one because such a lot has happened since The Man Who was released. Sometimes it feels like it is two lifetimes ago. We have travelled the world and have played a million shows since the album came out (laughter). Plus you have to think about all of the other records that we have made in-between.

I tend not to listen to the record but on the odd time that I do which is whenever we are about to go out on tour, I hear songs on there that we have never played live before, songs like She’s So Strange and Luv which we haven’t played live for years and years. So there are a few songs that you feel you really should listen to in order to get an idea as to just how the album flows. Whenever you do that you are immediately catapulted back in time and it feels like no time at all. You can remember everything about recording songs like Driftwood, where you were at that time and where you were sitting in the studio. And suddenly you are back there, like no time at all has passed.

That is one of the reasons why music is incredible; it kind of exists outside of time. Music is a bit like smell in so much as it can unlock really deep, dark memories from a very long time ago. Music has that power to take you right back so it has been nice in a way for me to rediscover the record over the past year when we have been touring it.

Now I have heard that playing this album in sequence has caused you a few problems, especially when it came to finding a set closer. Is that correct?

(Laughter) just who the hell have you been speaking to. Yes your information is correct in so much as the funny thing with this album is that over years of touring you get your keystones in the set, you certainly have your closers; songs such as Why Does It Always Rain On Me, Turn, Waiting To Reach You or something like that; a big song to finish the set with. However, with playing The Man Who in order all of those tracks are done by track seven (laughter). So being honest with you we really have had to be a little creative when we come back on stage to perform the second set (laughter). We really have had to work hard at finding a way to make the set work. It’s been interesting because it has made us re-evaluate the rest of the back catalogue as well. It has energised those other songs as well so it has been really interesting.

Having listened to the album prior to the start of the tour, in your opinion, how well has it stood the test of time?

With those songs you always feel like they have entered in to the public conscience if you like. When that record first came out the radio was very good to us and very kind to us, and so those songs went out into the world, and suddenly became not our songs anymore, they became everybody’s. They rapidly became everybody’s. So without wanting to sound immodest I think that I can safely say that as a record it really does stand-up although they no longer feel like our songs, they are now part of the ether. As a record it is a really strange one. It has a very peculiar but specific atmosphere which you can’t quite put your finger on; it is slightly autumnal.

It has a chilly warmth about it if you know what I mean which I know doesn’t make any sense but it really does pull you in and I feel that it is one of those records that really does work as a full album. Whenever you start it you really do want to hear the full thing which is probably not ideal in this day and age (laughter). Having said all of that I have to say that it definitely works as a record and I really do feel that it stands up. The atmosphere is a thing of beauty and so much of that is down to Nigel Godrich who produced the album. I personally feel that Nigel is a sonic genius in creating that unbelievable sound. The whole album sounds great, the songs stand up and I have to say that it is a really lovely record.

They say that hindsight is a wonderful thing so listening to the album now, is there anything that you would change or have done differently?

No, I don’t think so. I think that at the time there were a few doubts about a song or two but I think now, listening to the album, as I have said previously, it really does completely work. It all flows really nicely. It is what it is, it works and it is a record that the public responded to, so I don’t think that I would change anything about it. Playing the album live really is a lovely thing, it makes me feel like ‘oh yes, this is good’ (laughter).

Was there a lot of re-learning the album for you in preparation for the tour?

I had to relearn Luv which we had played very few times live; She’s So Strange which we have never really played live and The Last Laugh Of The Laughter which we hadn’t played in a very long time. For me there was a ‘oh, how does that one go’ moment (laughter). So you could say that I had a refresher course prior to the tour. Most of the other songs on the album had become stalwarts of the live set from the date that they were released, such as Driftwood, Turn, Why Does It Always Rain On Me?, even the hidden track Blue Flashing Light we play a lot, Slide Show we play a lot, most of the songs on the album we know inside out.

And not wanting to be po-faced about it we play the record very straight, and absolutely in order and keep things running as true to the record as possible. However, there have been a few slight changes to the way that we have been doing things. Whenever you play the songs live they tend to get a bit rockier, a bit louder, and a bit faster, so we have been trying to keep things absolutely true to the record.

You have mentioned my favourite track on the album which is Slide Show. Do you have a favourite track?

It’s funny because my favourite track to play is Turn, simply because it’s a big song and it gets a massive response from the audience. It is good to see a bunch of people all trying to hit that high note (laughter). There really is something quite exhilarating about that. The best thing about playing live is watching and hearing the audience singing back to you. In everyday life people are pretty shy about giving up their voices but whenever they really try to belt something out, then their personalities come out. And I have to say that I think that people are shy about that. However, whenever they have the protection of the crowd singing in mass then it can be a great thing.

People feel it as a kind of release. That is where so much of the energy comes from whenever you are performing live. That’s why people sing at football matches, why people sing in church, there is a heightening feeling that comes from that and Turn is a great song for doing just that. However, having said all of that, my favourite track to listen to and the one where I said “oh my god that sounds amazing” was Driftwood. I hadn’t listened to that track for so long. I love the chiming at the start of the record, it really is a beautiful sounding thing. That really did come as a surprise as I really had forgotten about that track and what it actually sounded like.

Will you or the record company be releasing anything special to commemorate the twentieth anniversary of the album?

(Laughter) in typical Travis fashion we did buck the trend slightly. We got it slightly wrong when we released a limited edition box set for the eighteenth anniversary (laughter). It’s a very Glasgow thing to do, ‘he’s eighteen, he can go to the pub’ (laughter). So we did the box set for the eighteenth anniversary. It really was lovely with vinyl copies of the B Sides as well as a book full of photographs from the time. That was limited to a thousand copies worldwide but we may release it properly this time around but as yet, we are still talking about that.

You will be bringing the tour to the Royal Concert Hall here in Nottingham on Monday 17th December and I have to tell you that I have checked this morning and it is almost sold-out.

That’s fantastic. Whenever we play in Nottingham the shows tend to sell really well. We are really very happy with the tour because quite a lot of the shows are already sold-out. It’s going quite well and we still have a few weeks to go before we get down there to Nottingham so fingers crossed that one should do really well too. I am sure that we have previously played at the Royal Concert Hall but I can’t remember it (laughter). I have been told that it is a really classy venue, is that correct?

Yes it is, it is a classy venue and it has just undergone massive refurbishments. However, you have to remember that it was originally built back in 1982 with classical concerts in mind.

That’s a thing that really works when we are performing this record. We recently played two nights at The Royal Festival Hall in London which as you know is sonically fantastic, and I have to say that it really did work. You don’t have to crank it madly for it to sound really pleasant. So the Royal Concert Hall is the right kind of venue for this kind of show.

You have got Turin Brakes opening for you which I have to say is a great choice.

It’s been lovely for us as they toured with us back in the day, around the time that The Man Who was released. Over the years we have been following each other around really. It is so nice for us to have them back; they really are a great bunch. It is really nice to have people that you know on tour with you and they are such lovely, lovely lads. They are really great live; they are so good whenever they play live, they are such good singers. They really are incredible. It’s so easy to forget that they have got such a great back catalogue as well. They are playing a full set of hits basically. They really are a terrific support.

Is there any sign of any new Travis studio material?

Yes there is. We are currently writing which is what we all tend to do whenever we are not out on the road. We all disappear back into domesticity (laughter). Fran (Healy) Andy (Dunlop) and myself all write separately and it is now getting to the ‘I’ll show you mine if you show me yours’ position which is always awkward (laughter).

As the festive season is almost upon us, how will you be spending Christmas?

I will be spending Christmas with the family. I think that I will be hosting once again, so I will be doing a lot of cooking for the immediate family and the extended family. They will all come round and they tend to stay so the Christmas celebrations tend to go on for a few days (laughter). It is all very traditional.

On that note Dougie let me once again thank you for taking the time to speak to me today. It’s been great and I will see you here in Nottingham.

Thank you very much, it’s been nice talking to you Kevin. Cheers for now.