"The basic melody was stumbled upon whilst strumming and humming one night at home in December 2000. I didn't feel like pushing it at that point but looked at it again when I went out to LA to write in February 2001 before the boys and Nigel came out. I have kept a journal since 1985 after the zietgiest that was The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole. A lot of my schoolfriends kept a diary and I followed suit buying my very first one on a primary school trip to Scarborough. If I was the Prime Minister I would make it statutory law that everyone from the age of 12 should keep a diary or journal. Apart from the laugh you get looking back at what you were up to when you were younger, keeping a journal helps you to remember where you've been and is a great place to have a moan or really tell someone what you think about them. So the song Dear Diary is a kind of thank you to my invisible companion, who has never questioned what views I may be keeping or mocked me or spoken behind my back and has listened to my stories and songs since the beginning. This song wasn't demoed before recording."
"Originally there was a rap (a rap!Hah!) that I had that went "East side, west side , up side, down side, back side front side, inside outside right side wrong side...me beside you beside does there/ doesn't have to be a side." I sat in bed and farted about until I got a riff that supported the rap and sung a melody over the top and then rolled it around again and again and again over a couple of weeks, adding lyrics and taking them away until I put it to paper on a plane trip back to the UK from I think the first American tour we did in February 2000.
If my memory serves me well it was on the cab ride home from this journey, riding down Parkway in Camden that I thought about 'The Invisible Band' for the first time in answer to a question I asked myself that was like "What is the best band?" the answer being (to me) the best band is the invisible band. A band that you hear but aren't exposed to visually like all the 60's bands that we hear on the radio and on record who's songs were so strong that they out lived the bands shelf life and sometimes even out lived the band members themselves.
The lyric is about how we always think there's something better for us out there than what we have without realising that what we truly have, LIFE, is something that we all share and hence are all standing on the same side as each other. Using the circle is apt because it it the only shape, I think in the universe, that only has one side."
Pipe Dreams started out life around spring 2000 as well. Written again in the bedroom it sounded like an old folk song with its Yin and its Yang and its strummy quality. There wasn't a lyric in the song that sounded good as a title so I called it Shut The Folk Up because I knew that Nigel hated folk music and that calling it thus would endear it to him more.
It wasn't until after we recorded it that Andy Mac Donald suggested we call it Pipe Dreams. Why I hadn't thought of this before was beyond me because when he said it, it sounded so natural. So Shut The Folk Up was dropped out and Pipe Dreams was enlisted.
The lyric on the second verse is about signing on at the dole office and how they used to look at you when you said you were in a band. The "...I'd pray to God if there was heaven..." bit is how I truely feel having been brought up a catholic ( I stopped being catholic at the age of 12) and looking at the world we live in today being sssooo fucked up spiritually. The chorus is telling myself that what life is, when it all boils down to it, is usually a couple of things and not the million and one things that we all get wrapped up in daily.
Dougie said as a joke ".. or a couple of pints please..." while I was singing it to him so I changed the last chorus to this instead of "...or a couple of Pipe Dreams". He funny boy. "
Flowers In The Window
"This was written in Mike Hedges' studio in France in June 1998 during the first sessions of The Man Who. Mike had said that every band that had recorded in his chateau had written a song and I was like, "..no way am I gonna be writing a song" I just didn't feel like it.
Until that point I had always written in the privacy of my own bedroom tucked away secretly where no-one could hear me. But one day whilst sitting at his grand piano with my guitar on my lap and the sun blazing in through a huge bay window and some time on my hands I came upon the opening piano riff. The Dan Dan da da da Dan... it and because I couldn't play the piano fluently I found the chords on the guitar and got a melody for the verse and the chorus and most importantly filled the six syllable vocal hook with what I could see in front of me. Which was the most beautiful flowers in Mike's garden through this huge bay window.
There was a photograph of James Dean Bradfield sitting at the piano with the very window behind him in an edition of Q around that time.
That night the boys all went to the local pub and I sat in my room drawing or writing a letter to Nora or something. Later, I heard them coming in, banging drunkenly around and finally settling down in their respective bedrooms. Then it all went quiet. Ahhhh...sleeping like babies they were.
About half an hour later I heard the most chilling sound... like someone was choking to death...I leapt out of bed while this whooping choking sound continued to echo round the house. Someone was choking on their own vomit.
The house was big and It was hard to tell which room the sound was coming from. It sounded like it was coming from Andys or Neils room so I bounded down the stairs and first burst into Andys room. He was lying on his back sleeping like a puppy and so then ran to the living room on the ground floor and there was Neil, TV blaring, fast asleep. "God it was Dougie..." I thought.
By this time my heart was pounding like a hammer and the choking sound was getting worse. Dougies room was directly across from mine and it hadn't sounded like it was coming fro his room and that is why I had gone downstairs.
When I burst into Dougies room the bed was empty. I was nearly crying. Dougie wasn't choking though, he was hanging out his window throwing up. I collapsed with relief beside him.
My heart was racing like 600 horsepower. I thought I was gonna have a heart attack. He had had a bit of a turn after drinking some tequila at the local bar that night.
After making sure he was gonna be alright I went back to my room and wrote the lyric to Flowers In The Window on the back of a brown envelope in about 10 minutes. It made me cry when I sung it back to myself. I was aware for the first time that a good distraction is necessary in writing lyrics. Or not being concious of what I'm doing is required if it is to have that magic."
New York February 1999.
"I was talking to Cinjun from Remy Zero for ages and we were having a great conversation. The kind of conversation that could have gone on indefinitely but because I was in a hotel and hotel phone calls cost an arm and a leg so after an hour and a half we HAD to terminate.
Before we did I asked him if he could see his guitar and he said yes. I could see mine across the other side of the room. I suggested that as soon as we put the phone down we should rush over and pick up our guitars and write a song and then the next evening I would call him up and we could play the song to each other. It was a deal.
So I put the phone down and rushed over and started to strum around some melody that I had gotten in LA a week earlier. It was just afew notes but was really melodic. This would make up what was the chorus of The Cage.
The chorus started lyrically as 'Cin-jun don't you worry, man....da da da da da da da ...oh da da ..." and listening back to the dictaphone changed to "When your bird has flown away...She was never meant to stay....Oh to keep..."
The verse melody and lyric and chords all came next and the song was finished in a skelatal form by the early morning. I finished it off the next day and called Cinjun up that night. He had written a song called 'Perfect Memory' and we both played these songs to each other and blew the other away. Cool."
"Safe could well be the earliest Travis song. It was written 8 years ago. I can't remember where or when exactly but I remember Mr Martin, father of Chris and Geoff, the old members, after hearing it saying that is was a great tune with great words.
We played Safe in very early Travis Shows, I even think we were called Glass Onion at the time. There are setlists from 1993 with Safe on. We played it alot faster back then. It was better acoustically.
The song was lost until 1999 when Andy MacDonald heard it on an early demo tape and asked us to record it. So in the same session as We Are Monkeys and the demo of Sing we recorded Safe with the thought of using it as a b side.
The original arrangement was crude and in my opinion didn't really go anywhere. It needed another part. A middle 8. So I jumped through to the control room in studio 1 in Rak studios and knocked out the middle 8 really quickly. Its the bit that goes, "...and I feel safe , I feel so brave, Im not afraid of anything they've got to say. And you're okay because you're tucked away. Don't go astray you've got to be just who you are...who you are..."
Dougie said it was as if the lyric in the Mid 8 is talking to the 19 year old in the rest of the song which is lovely but not intentional. We played Safe live and everyone got to hear it at the Glastonbuy 2000 show. "
Follow The Light
"This was the last song to be added to the tracklisting of The Invisible Band.
It began life in February 2001 just before I went to LA write. The melody came first and was memorable within one listen. The tempo was sluggish and the verse was totally different from what it turned into. What it turned into didn't happen until we were in the studio. The chorus melody began with the words,"But its alright..." but I couldn't seem to get the words to the rest of the chorus. It wasn't until I stumbled upon an interesting melody one night when I stayed behind in Ocean Way that flowed really well into the chorus that began " But it's alright.."
The tempo was alot more up than the chorus melody had been originally but as soon as I put the new verse with the older chorus the lyrics started to come. The hook line started out as ... " But its alright, just shadows and light.." but neil said there was a Joni album by the same name so it changed to, "...But its alright, you're travelling light..." and then became " ... Follow the light.." and then that was that.
The lyric in the chorus dictated what the verse was about, just how, when you don't know what you're doing or where you're going you've just got to follow that light. The light being whatever you want it to be."
"Possibly the darkest song on The Invisible Band.
Last Train started life in London, December, 2000 with the melody for verse and chorus and the openning lines "Rain on the brain, now there's flowers in your window.. she well she's so strange ..." Nora said it sounded really longing.
I finished it off in LA in February 2001. The last verse is a completely different song who's chorus "If you took all the little feelings in your heart..." became, by default, the middle 8.
The lyric about Che Guevara and the rear window came from a night that me and Cinjun and Cedric and people from the Remy Zero tribe went to visit one of their friends who had just been to Cuba and had given Cedric a postcard of Che sitting under a tree and at a glance I had thought it looked like me.
It's a little lyrical polaroid that when I hear it reminds me all at once of that night and of the Alfred Hitchcock movie Rear Window with James Stewart and Grace Kelly and of Los Angeles and it's atmosphere. I was dead glad as well to have a song that had its middle 8 as the very last thing you hear."
"Afterglow was written in our first house in London in Finsbury park.
It didn't have the "...and when you finally leave ..." section at this point. I remember playing it to everyone when we were recording Good Feeling in Woodstock, in 'The Barn' which was a converted barn come studio.
It hung around and during writing sessions for The Man Who I finished it off but it was left behind. The words are meant to be directed at whatever it is that lets me write songs. The Muse. And how this Muse comes down while I'm feeling fine.
"You are the Afterglow..." is me giving it a name and "..you are the midnight show.." is because I always seem to write better after midnight for some reason. "...You come and then you go" is simply what it seems to do without warning and then when your left with this lovely little thing, this little song, I get a funny empty feeling. Strange. Like shagging. haha! So Afterglow is a song to the muse."
"Somewhere in America as we travelled down a bumpy freeway, the noise at the front of the bus, all the plates and cups and dishes rattling loosely in the cupboards, was I remember most of what was recorded onto my dictaphone but you can just make out the opening chords and words of Indefinitely.
Backstage at a show in Germany, I think, is where I picked it up again and the ..."time exists but just on your wrist..." came out without a thought. When I played this to Andy Mac Donald he pointed this line out as being one of the strongest lines I'd ever written. Annoying as I hadn't felt as though I'd meant it but cool because it meant that maybe what you should keep in a song are all the things you didn't mean to write and get rid of all the concious stuff.
Then there's this other recording, again at the back of the bus in America somewhere. I can't remember this at all but it's me singing this song and sobbing every time I reach the chorus. I must have been feeling emotional that day. It was written in 2000 America and I think in Germany."
The Humpty Dumpty Love Song
" I love the title of this song.
It was written in a hotel room in Seattle the night before we did our first show with Oasis in the States. We'd shot a video in LA about a week earlier with our friend Ringan Ledwidge. He had directed the UK Turn video as well. The idea for his latest Travis video though was based around the nursery rhyme of Humpty Dumpty. HUMPTY DUMPTY SAT ON A WALL, HUMPTY DUMPTY HAD A GREAT FALL, ALL THE KINGS HORSES AND ALL THE KINGS MEN COULDN"T PUT HUMPTY TOGETHER AGAIN.
Ringan had set the medieval story of the eggman and placed it against a contemporary backdrop of downtown Los Angeles. The video ends in tragedy though and poor Humpty Dumpty is left for dead.
So in Seattle after a phonecall about the videos progress with Ring, I was strumming away and came up with The beginnngs of The Humpty Dumpty Love Song, all about the delicate heart of the protaganist and his dying thoughts."