One on One with Fran Healy

This Scottish rocker sings for a veg supper

Front man and songwriter for the pioneering Britpop band Travis, Fran Healy recorded his first solo album, Wreckorder, last year with a little help from veg legend Paul McCartney. Along the way, Healy, who currently lives in Berlin with his wife, Nora, and young son, Clay, became vegetarian.

Q What made you decide to go vegetarian?

A I had been thinking about vegetarianism for a long time actually. I tried it a few times and just always slipped back into eating meat. When Paul McCartney did the bass line for me on my album, I was trying to think of a way to say thank you that wasn’t just going to the shop and buying a gift. I wanted to do something that was more of a gesture, and I thought it would be ideal to convert.

Q Your son, Clay, was already vegetarian when you made the switch. How did that happen?

A Yeah, he’s always been a veggie. We just never gave him meat. If he ever wanted to eat it, I wouldn’t say no, but I don’t think he will. Kids are your model for how to live, because they’re pure. As you get older, your energy erodes—I don’t mean that in a dark, negative way, it’s just natural—and then you have kids, and it’s like, wow, I’m living with a saint.

Q How was making your first solo album, a very personal project, in sync with your going veg?

A There was a whole bunch of stuff that happened in a period of three years. The first was having a kid. I stopped smoking three years before that in preparation. We also decided to move lock, stock, and barrel to Berlin, which is a really great city for kids. Then there was the solo record. I definitely feel I’m claiming my own space. It’s part of growing up. I’m always going to be in Travis, but there’s such a lot of stuff you can do in your own time, you have to open yourself up to the options.

Q Why music for expressing yourself creatively?

A I could finish a song and I could never finish a painting. Whether you’re writing a song, or scoring a goal in football, or painting, it’s all art. It’s just different manifestations of the artistic urge to make a mark. Scoring a touchdown is just as magical as writing a poem. It draws from that same eureka moment, that same spark.

Q The songs on Wreckorder are touched with melancholy, but you can also tap your toes to them. Do you see that kind of dichotomy in yourself?

A That’s me. I’ve learned that in order to feel like you’re absolutely alive you have to try to carry both the sadness and the joy. It’s like, in one hand, you have a Bloomingdale’s big brown bag filled with all your [garbage] and, in the other, one filled with your joy. And sometimes the [garbage] outweighs the joy, but you have to carry it. You need to embrace everything.

Q So, do you try to change the world, to reduce the collective garbage and bolster the joy?

A Trying to change the world is a one-way ticket to a sore head. You just need to try to be a good human being. And if by doing that, you inadvertently change the world, then great. Try to be a decent person, it’s the easiest thing you can do. If everyone did that, we’d all be cool. We’d feel like we were living in a utopia.