Fran Healyâ€™s album WRECKORDER is quintessential pop from a songwriter at the top of his game. How has Wreckorder energized you creatively?
Thats a great question to begin with… doing a solo record has been really exciting for me. When I was with the band I was always the principle songwriter and id have the band to help me along, but taking a small break from the band as they concentrated on their families and so on meant that i was able to produce songs and an album which was all me, and all my vision. I found it really stimulating and loved the whole process. I am very proud of this album.
On the record you have appearances from current and iconic stars. how did these individuals get involved?
I saw Neko Case play a show in America and I thought that she just had the most beautiful voice, all through her show I was just thinking ‘I want to work with her, I want to work with her’, so i thought that I had to ask her. After the show I managed to be introduced to her and plucked up the courage to ask. Luckily, she knew of Travis and said she really liked the band so she said yes and gave me her email address. So I emailed her when I got home and didn’t hear anything back for a few days and started to get really worried, I was like ‘Oh no, what if she is just doing that thing which Americans do and saying ‘Yes!’ to everything?!’ So I gave it a couple more days and still nothing then eventually 3 weeks later I got an email where she said she’d love to do the song I wrote especially for a duet and I think it works really well. I love the song.
With Paul McCartney, I knew that I wanted someone to guest on bass and I was thinking to myself who the best bass player in the world would be to have on my album, so I came up with him! Not many people really recognize his bass playing skills but he is actually the most fantastic and talented bassist. So i sent him the track and he came back with 3 different ideas which blew me away… I couldn’t believe he wanted to work with ME! We chose one song and yes, I’m very proud that he recorded it on THE bass, which is the bass he used for all The Beatles records.
Can you tell us about your writing process, both lyrically and musically?
Writing for me comes in waves and takes hours. I think that everybody can write a song but it is just that some people get to the block and then stop, wiht me, I get to the block and force myself through it. I think it always pays off and although a struggle, persistence has made me
I remember with one song on the album, I was doing the washing up and humming to myself and i came up with a melody which I thought was really cool! So i ran upstairs to turn on the recorder and play some rhythms out, but Ive always been one of those scatty peope and I must have forgotten something downstairs, so on the tape you hear me press record, and then me walking away from the recorder! and it is recording nothing for hours. I had to sit through it all as I knew this melody was really good. so eventually, after all this time, I heard footsteps coming back up the stairs and in my mind I am like ‘yes, this is it!’ and then i get to about half way up the stairs.. and I stop.. and I can hear myself go back down the stairs and I am like ‘Nooo!’
But luckily, as I’m walking down I can hear myself faintly humming the melody and I’m going ‘A-ha! I got it!!’ Now that is persistence.
What was it like in the studio for you compared to with the band?
Its different, but not too much. When I was with the band I was mostly in the studio alone writing and working on my vocals and my parts and then the band would come in causing chaos and be a whirlwind and I would watch all of the pieces come together. It is similar because I am on my own and also the songs have a different vibe for me. When youre touring wth just an acoustic guitar and your songs, do you think the a true strength of a song writer is measured up on stage in that exposed manner?
Maybe but I always found it harder in the studio as in a live setting there is an atmosphere to feed off and a good crowd to fuel your music. In the studio, you have to think about all the little touches and there is no audience to fuel you on, so I think for the the studio is maybe more exposed. I love both though, performing and recording.
How did it come about that you play the banjo?
I don’t actually play the Banjo … but I would’t mind learning! It is a very skilled instrument and when played well I think is great. We actually had one on one of our tracks in Travis and it was really cool, worked very well.
Is this album a sign of things to come and will there be more solo albums in the future?
I love working both solo and with the band so I hope that there will be more of both to come, I havn’t stopped writing songs, there are more in me yet!
What has your involvement in Travis meant both musically and personal to you?
Well, Travis really shaped my life… I was writing songs since I can remember so to have the opportunity to do something I love as a job is amazing. Not only that, but it was also my personal life aswell as my worklife and I the guys in the band are my best friends. I learn alot from the band and it gives me alot of happiness and has done throughout my life.
You’re involved with warchild, why was it so important for you to do so?
I had never been involved with Warchild before the busking as I had always been more involved with Save The Children or other charities, but they contacted me with this idea and I thought it was brilliant. I think it is really important to support children – it sounds cheesy but they are our future and when I look at how little they have I find it really horrible for me. It upsets me to see that poverty for kids.
X – Factor – love or loathe?
I’ve never seen the show. when my daughter was born we made the decision to throw away our television and you know what?? I don’t miss it at all. I think the show has a place though, it seems to entertain a lot of people and there will always be a need for a talent show.
Do you think you would have been succesful on X factor?
No haha! I think the show is designed to give opportunities for a certain type of artist and the band would never have been that artist. Bands don’t seem to do so well on these programmes.
How has the digital revolution affected you as a muscian?
Hugely, massively infact. It has changed the way we listen to music, think about music and hear about music.
I think it is a shame that people rarely listen to albums anymore, iTunes lets people download single tracks from an album so people only seem to be interested in the singles which is a shame. I would love to get people buying full albums again and i think we could bash through ideas of how to do that for hours and hours and never really know if we have found a worthwhile solution.
On the flipside, everything is so instant now. I love doing my blog and I think the way everyone has a blog is brilliant, everyone is keeping a diary. www.myspace.com/franhealy
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