I started the interview off by asking Travis, "what is it that you do, creatively?" , to which he gave an honest, modest reply:
Being creative has recently taken a backseat. I work, I hang with my
dogs, and I hang out with my fiance. Although none of those are very
creative they take up most of my time, in a very good way. I try to
pick up the guitar here and there but if I don't have a specific
project to work on I feel lost. I would like to try to be more
creative and I am trying to find new things to fill that void.
My previous project was My Hotel Year. I started the band in 2000 and
worked on it heavily for years touring my ass off. In the wake of its
demise I started a project called Inkwell with my best friend Davey.
We just released our third record and I feel like the project is the
one truly honest creative project I have ever done.
So, I know you have played in My Hotel Year and Inkwell. Any other bands you have played in that I am not aware of?
My very first band was called Remnant. I played bass in the first couple bands I played with. I was in high school and just wanted to be in a band and nobody played bass so I volunteered. We were a shoegazer type band. After that I started a band called Vivian (the first band I sang in). That band was short lived and I soon joined Dear Ephesus playing bass again, leading to (MY) Hotel Year.
How long ago did you start playing guitar? At what point did you realize that you wanted to sing, too?
I started playing guitar when I was 14. I started playing folk believe it or not. I have never considered myself a good guitarist by any means. I first realized I wanted to sing when I started MHY.
Was singing something that came naturally to you right away, or did you suck real bad at first and have to work at it till you got it right?
I was terrible and I have the Cd's to prove it. I have always been a super shy person so being a front man was never a comfortable thought. I worked really hard to get to a place where I could sing in front of people without needing to throw up.
Was there any "AH-HAH" moment for you when you first started writing and singing, where you finally felt like you "got it" ?
Inkwell. Inkwell was the first project where I threw out all of the rules and just wrote for fun. It was the first time where I felt like I was writing solid songs.
Any tips for someone aspiring to write songs, vocals, or the like?
Study study study. Listen to as much music as you can, all different types, and figure out what makes a song work.
How long was My Hotel Year together?
I started it in Atlanta in 2000 and we played and toured till 2004.
You guys spent a lot of time travelling it seems. Any highlights? Low lights?
I have plenty of both. Highlights were the friends we met and still have. Low lights were the damage touring did on my personal life.
Is touring with My Hotel Year how you met Davey, your partner in Inkwell?
Yes indeed. His band Believe in Toledo toured with us a lot and Davey and I connected immediately.
How does writing music with Davey differ from, say, writing with My Hotel Year?
First off, the fact that there is only two people instead of four makes a huge difference. There are less attitudes and opinions to deal with. Other than that Davey and I compliment each other very well. We push each other and no idea is ever shunned.
Do you and Davey generally split the songwriting duties on each song, or would you say there are some songs that are more, "Davey," while others are more, "Travis" ? How does this process work now that Davey lives in Athens, GA?
We generally have no rules regarding writing and we generally write as we record. The records are very spur of the moment and for the most part things just happen.
The new album varies a bit from some of the other Inkwell material. You described it to me as being some of the most honest music you have ever made. What do you think pushed the music in the direction it has gone, and why has it meant so much to you, personally that it has?
(I like it a lot, by the way)
Not really the most honest (Chaos, the first record, is painfully honest) but the most proud I have ever been of a record. This record was everything we have ever wanted in a record, no sound replacement, no auto-tune and completely “us.”
Where do you see Inkwell going from here?
Inkwell was never supposed to go this far. We never wanted this to be a band but three records later here we are. Every show and every record could be the last. I am as surprised as anyone we are still making music. If I get to make another record I will be more than happy to but I am not expecting to.
As someone who has worked with some very talented people, has toured a lot, and written a lot of songs, do you have any advice for someone who is just learning to play their instrument, just starting to play in a band, or going on tour for the first time? Anything they can glean from your experiences?
Have fun, love music for the right reasons, and don’t take it for granted.
You can listen to Travis' work here:
myspace.com/inkwell and myspace.com/myhotelyear