- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 29, 2001

The Scottish band Travis named its third album "The Invisible Band." But after opening for Dido this summer and getting its videos played on MTV, the group is quickly becoming our most visible musical import from Great Britain.

Travis, in its latest U.S. tour, comes to the 9:30 Club on Tuesday.

"When I was young, maybe 7 or 8 years old, my mum used to draw a line where my height was," says singer-songwriter-guitarist Fran Healy, his Scottish accent strong in conversation. "Each time I'd grow a centimeter that's the kind of growth that Travis has taken."

The band formed in 1990 in Glasgow, Scotland, after college friends Mr. Healy, Dougie Payne (vocals, bass), Andy Dunlop (guitar) and Neil Primrose (drums) started playing together. After moving to London in 1996 and releasing an EP, Travis started gaining notice and entered the British top 10 with its first album, "Good Feeling," in 1997.

The follow-up, "The Man Who," in 1999 spawned five top-10 hits in Great Britain and gave the band some attention in the United States when it was re-released here last year. Now with "The Invisible Band" (released in June) Travis is hoping to grow yet another centimeter across the Atlantic.

"I think you've got to write words that disappear when you hear them," Mr. Healy says, elaborating on the album name. "Before we had language, we had tones. I think the title is about the fact that the most important things in life and things that you're concerned with are the things you can't see."

"The Invisible Band" is filled with songs of joy and heartbreak and turns those moments into musical therapy. On "Side," the album's first single, Mr. Healy sings about how "we all live under the same sky/we all will live, we all will die." He encourages a shy lover to sing, "for the love you bring/won't mean a thing/unless you sing."

Mr. Healy is especially proud of the song "Dear Diary," a somber tune written about his personal journal that at first sounds like an ordinary ballad, but "The chord structure is one of the most bizarre chord structures that I've ever seen," he says.

If the Dido tour and MTV play are indications, Travis is on its way to turning U.S. heads as well as British ones.

"People were coming to us cold (during the Dido tour), and by the end of the night we had converted the audience," he says.

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