Fran Healy: 'I only went on two holidays as a kid – and one of those was to Blackpool'

·5-min read
The musician talks travel - Getty
The musician talks travel - Getty

I want to be in St Barts in the Caribbean right now

I miss it so much. An artist friend in Berlin rented a house there and told me about it 10 years ago. So although I’m a working-class Glasgow person and have to force myself to go on holidays, I went with my wife and son in the low season five years in a row. St Barts is a poultice, drawing the richest people in the world, but the wonderful thing is that, when they’ve gone, it’s just a beautiful, isolated island with about 22 beaches. The weather and the tropical light are fantastic. And it’s French. I don’t know what they’re saying but I love listening to it.

I went on crazy runs there, up and down hills and along the beach

At one place there was a derelict building and I would go there every day and sit with my feet dangling as the sea smashed against the rocks below. It was like another world. I could quietly live out my days in St Barts.

I live in Los Angeles now and I like going to Joshua Tree National Park in California

There are amazing Airbnbs there, then you go outside and there is nothing else around for miles. It feels like the beginning of 2001: A Space Odyssey. There’s just desert, Joshua trees, snakes and scorpions. I sit with my thoughts and look at the horizon. I like to do that somewhere quiet so nobody hears me howling. 

I heard strange thudding sounds at night on the last two occasions I was in Joshua Tree

I went out into the darkness, which is glorious with all the stars, and saw lots of distant flashes. I realised it was Edwards Air Force Base and they were playing war games.

Joshua Tree National Park - Denise Taylor
Joshua Tree National Park - Denise Taylor

The most remote place I’ve been is the Arctic Circle

We went to Karasjok in the north of Norway in 2004 on a husky-dog trek. We got acclimatised in a camp run by a guy called Sven Engholm. Then we were given a big sledge and six dogs and off we went into the tundra. We camped at night in tiny wooden huts that the Sami reindeer herders use. It gets dark at 2.30pm and you go to the toilet in minus 50F. 

The landscape was like a desert of snow in Norway

You can’t decipher between the horizon and the ground so you have no idea how fast you are going when sledding. Then one day, out of nowhere, we saw what looked like a petrified forest straight out of Narnia. As soon as the branches started flying past, we began ducking and the dogs were yapping; we knew it was fast and we might get hurt. The other drawback was that Sven was a snorer. We had to shorten the trip because I just couldn’t take it.

The worst thing that happened on my travels?

I was in the Algarve, Portugal, with my girlfriend when I was 22. I went to the shop for milk and was waiting to cross the road when I saw a girl get hit by a car. She flew about 60ft. It was horrific. I was the only other British person around, so I had to get her into the ambulance and drive her hysterical mother to the hospital. The girl ended up being fine and didn’t realise how close she had come to death. I was a nervous wreck while she was enjoying herself in the bar afterwards.

I’m in love with Mexico City

The food, the music, the culture and the people. It has more energy than New York and it’s laced with danger, which makes it very exciting. You can look at ancient civilisations and walk around Frida Kahlo’s house, which feels like she has just left it. Her house is like Graceland, but for people with taste.

Mexico City - Getty Images
Mexico City - Getty Images

I’m not a big Elvis fan but I did love Graceland which still looks lived-in

It reminded me of my Auntie Babs’s living room in the 1980s. It’s chintzy and slightly cheesy, but his bunker downstairs is the ultimate hang-out: it has a pool table, fabric walls, stereo sound, a bar. Then you go in the garden and Elvis is buried there. So he is still there.

Crete is an amazing island and I’m sure I will return there

I went when I was 20. It’s where Joni Mitchell wrote a lot of Blue, one of my favourite records. I was listening to it on the island and she talks about the “Matala moon” – so I did my pilgrimage to the caves, dug out of the sheer cliffs, and a warm wind was blowing in from Africa, just as the song Carey suggested.

Crete - Getty
Crete - Getty

I went on only two holidays when I was a kid and those were to Spain and to Blackpool

When I was 12, my mum shouted out the window and asked if I wanted to go to Blackpool with my Auntie Babs and Uncle Bill in half an hour. We drove down to a caravan site and I thought it was the best thing ever. I took my auntie on the pirate ship at Blackpool Pleasure Beach and told her it only went backwards and forwards. Then the bar came down and crushed her handbag against her, so when the ride went upside down all her money fell out and she was cursing. It was a summer I’ll never forget.

I would like to go to India, although they’re getting bad press about the way women are treated, which is off-putting

When I was 15, my friend’s mother, who is a cool, learned woman, said to me that I had to go there. I’m not sure exactly why, but it’s still there on my list.

Interview by Caroline Rees

The new Travis album, 10 Songs, is out now