by Julian Shea
BBC News Online
Travis lead singer Fran Healy says a life-threatening accident suffered by drummer Neil Primrose last summer has changed the direction of the band and inspired their new album.
The band's new album is due out in the autumn
Primrose injured his neck in a diving accident and Healy told BBC News Online the band came close to splitting up, but with their future in doubt, he was liberated from the pressure of expectation.
"After Neil's accident, we thought the band was finished. We came to the edge of the precipice," he says.
"We had eight months off and it felt like being on the dole, but with cash, so I just sat around writing songs like I did when there was no pressure. It was the most creative time we've ever had as a band."
The new album, as yet untitled, is due out in September and was largely recorded in Scotland with former Crowded House producer Tchad Blake at the controls.
Healy admits the bulk of the material came about when the band least expected it.
Primrose (centre) was pulled out of the pool by band mates
"In October, Neil decided he wanted to go to a place called Crear, near the Mull of Kintyre, to get out of London and away from interference. We hadn't gone away to record an album, just to get him back playing again.
"I thought it might be an idea to take some microphones and recording equipment along - not a desk, just a computer - thinking maybe we might get something from it.
At the end of two weeks what we had sounded like a proper record, so I asked the record company if we could go back and do some more," he says.
Healy says fans will hear the difference.
"Everyone who's heard it says it sounds different from anything we've ever done. And I'm the most proud that I've ever been of anything we've ever done," he said.
The accident that befell Primrose clearly affected the four individuals in the band and Travis as a whole.
They have been together as friends for 13 years and bandmates for seven years, and the shared experience of almost losing a friend and colleague has tightened the bond.
Playing on without Primrose was never an option for the others.
"If Neil didn't play drums, we couldn't pay a gig," says Healy.
"If you take the wheels off a car you can't drive it. You can put new wheels on, but it'll never be the same car."
The near-fatal event has made them all stronger and what could have been a tragedy has become an inspiration.
"It's been the most amazing eight months of our career," says Healy, grinning. "We've grown up. I'm coming up to 30 now and I feel more like a man and less like a boy.
"Things you go through bring you together or force you apart. Everything we've been through has drawn us closer. We're the luckiest band in the world."