When I first met Travis Chance, I was living with my parents in Lafayette, IN and working as a translator at Subaru. I had been home from my mission for about 6 months or so, and I didnt really have a lot going on in my life at the time besides work, so when he called me up one Sunday to ask me if I wanted to play keyboards in a band he was starting, I said sure, dude. I had seen him play drums in his band, Usurp Synapse, I remember thinking that they were pretty good. He played this really small drum set and did this weird thing with his shirt when he would play. Just from hearing him talk, I could tell that he was one of these extreme characters who has a lot to say. He had been given my phone number by Bryan Bush, and he had heard that I was a good keyboard player, which is really strange, because I never played keyboards, and I wasnt really sure why anyone would think that. Despite this, I agreed to try playing keyboards with them, because how hard could it be, right? I already sort of had a keyboard I could use anyway.
When people meet Travis, they tend to have a very polarized opinion about him. Now it is your turn, meet him through this interview. This interview was conducted after Travis played a show with the new band he is drumming for, Lola Ray, at the Melody Inn in Indianapolis.
Travis: So, whats this thing for? Is this going to be made into some zine that gets sold to VLV kids or something? Will this be another reason for people to hate me and talk shit about me all across America and the wealthier parts of Europe?
Mike: No, Fax Arcana broke up a long time ago, anyway. I think you are safe. No, this is for a larger project I am working on in which I interview people close to me, and try to showcase what it is that I like about people, what my friends and family mean to me. Im into the idea of interviewing my friends.
T: Well, you know that I respect you a lot. You need to get out of Indiana, and move to New York and stop squandering your talents. People can learn Japanese later, right now the world needs you for other things.
M: Sometimes I think you might be right. Im not so sure if the world needs another musician or artist trying to do the next big thing though.
T: Well, you really have not ever given music your full attention, and if you gave it half the attention that you give to being a Mormon and living in a town full of stoners and dim-wits, then you could be on TRL right now. You could be doing string arrangements for Justin Timberlake. I dont know.
M: Remember when you and Don told me you would convert to Mormonism if I moved to Indianapolis and joined your band? Would you really have done it?
T: No, probably not. We were trying to show you that we were serious. And what better way to show we were serious than by making a joke about your religion.
M: Yeah, thats funny, but I guess the religion thing was a pretty big deal to you back then. We talked about that a lot, especially after you told me you were kind of raised a Jehovahs Witness.
T: Yeah, well, for a long time despite not really believing in a lot of that stuff, it was something that affected me a lot, it was a big part of how I grew up. Since that time, I have not really had a lot of friends who took any kind of religion seriously, but yet you and one of my other Mormon friends from back in Florida seemed like really nice, good people, to the point of it almost being kind of weird to me, like why? Why are these fucking Mormons so weirdly nice all the time? Like, when I first met you, I would say these blasphemous, God-hating things, like as a joke, and you would just sit there on the couch and laugh this weird laugh. But yeah, I guess the first time we really talked about it was on the way to LA, when we went to Santa Barbara.
M: That was a weird trip. I am still kind of surprised that you asked me to go. You called me at work to ask me to go, and then gave me the number of the travel agency so that we could sit next to each other on the plane.
T: Well, you seemed like the kind of person who could survive on his own. I guess we didnt really know each other that well, but I was going to hook up with a girl I had met on tour, you know, earlier that summer, so I didnt want to go with someone who couldnt easily entertain himself. You had a good time though, right? I wasnt just playing kissy-face the whole time, now, was I?
M: No, we had a good time.
T: I know you had a good time, I caught you almost in the act of making out with that soccer player girl while Pink Floyd was playing.
M: Oh, man. Brooks friend. We didnt make out.
T: I walked out of Nikkis room, and you are like in this beanbag trying to look relaxed but secretly contemplating going in for the kill. I could tell. At that point, I was so astounded that you could display any hormonal tendencies, it was really shocking. And plus, she was not a good girl, you realize that now, dont you?
M: Yeah, I think she was a soccer player, right? Brooks was not a good girl either, as you may recall. I think you are remembering it wrong though. When we got back, you told everyone this story as if I was about to make out with that girl while listening to Pink Floyd, but that was not really what was going on at all. We were just listening to some Pink Floyd, enjoying a California afternoon. Just Pink Floyd, no makeout. Nothing wrong with that. Cant a guy and a girl who dont know each other at all sit and liste to some Pink Floyd? And I dont think there were any beanbags there. Just couches. What were the names of the girls who lived there in that house? I remember Genesis.
T: Of course you remember Genesis. Oh my God, stop it. There was that girl who said she was friends with Becks godfather, the real skinny girl with blond hair, she was like trying to be the next Tori Amos and she was terrible.
M: Yeah, I didnt really like her. Or Genesis. What about the girl with the prosthetic leg? She would take it off when they got in fights and start hitting people with it. Man, I remember thinking she was really cool.
T: Oh, um, Vanessa. Yeah, she was cool. And then there was Nikki and Brooks.
M: Brooks wanted to listen to The Angry Samoans all the way home from the airport. It was weird. And there was the kind of goth girl who listened to Morrissey on the way back to the airport. I dont remember her name.
T: Neither do I. That was my first time riding a plane. I needed someone to be there because I seriously thought I was going to shit my pants on liftoff and landing.
M: So how do you like being a New York session drummer-type guy?
T: Its cool. I love it. Being an even half-decent drummer in New York means you can do it pretty much as you want to, you can take it as far as you want to. As long as you are relatively easy to get along with and not too ugly. Some drummers even get away with being fat. I got asked to do this thing on a record with a rapper on Def Jam. Just funny shit like that. It helps to be able to play to a click track too. People seem to like to see that. But yeah, I mean, its cool. You can get in a band that is already pretty established, be guaranteed that you wont lose your shirt on the road, ya know. I have liked most all of the guys I have played with. I get to go to London in October with a band I am playing with, and then to Germany too, with this band that sounds kind of like Iron Maiden.
M: Do the people you play with ever complain about your hair?
T: What? No, man, this is pretty standard for New York. The last person to cut it kind of fucked it up, but I guess it doesnt really matter that much for a haircut like this. Why, you dont like it? Would this not fly at a Mormon church service? Would I be banished from the fold?
M: I have seen perms at church that are much more offensive than what you have on your head.
T: Oh, ok. Thanks.
M: How does it feel to be back in Indianapolis?
T: Its cool, its good that some friends came out to the show tonight. Most of my Top 8 was at the show, I think, actually. Mostly people I used to play Magic: The Gathering with, I guess it goes to show who your real friends are in life. Fuck these scenester assholes. Its the nerds who will stick with you.
M: Do you ever think of hitting that circuit again anytime soon?
T: That depends on whether or not my body decides to get fat and ugly. If I start to look any worse than this, I probably wont be able to play drums or bartend.
M: Yeah, I was always kind of surprised that you became a bartender, because you never drank for the longest time.
T: Yeah, I didnt drink for a long time, but in a way drinking was for me kind of good, because it actually really chilled me out. You know how much of an annoying prick I can be, but really, I am a very cool, relaxed drunk, possibly even easier to get along with that way. But bartending is really fun in New York, its about the best life experience a person can have, honestly. Seriously, if you moved to New York, you would feel a lot better about your life. A person like you would instantly have a million cool things to do.
M: Im trying to feel better without having to feel distracted though. Although I guess I would like to have more cool things to do. Plus, I might as well finish up my doctorate.
T: Like, I felt really bad when I heard that you had been having some trouble, like I had no idea, and it was weird to hear it from her, because I mean, you dont even really know her. I guess I always kind of assumed that you were the type of person who had things taken care of, and didnt get too bummed out about anything. Like you would just laugh and not ever get angry about anything. I remember trying to make you upset, and it just not working. So, it was weird when Hailey told me that you said you had been having some trouble. Me and Bonati felt like we had been deadbeat friends or something. You know how it is though, you get caught up in other stuff, and you forget to check in with people.
M: Well yeah, thats kind of the thing, was that up until that point, I had never really had anything bad enough happen, or I had never freaked out about anything like that about anything. And maybe my life had just been pretty much ok up until that point, but I didnt really have the channels open to ask for the help that I needed. I ended up asking for help anyway, and when I did, people were kind of surprised, because that wasnt the role that I had typically taken or whatever. But, I mean, I know that you have had your share of crazy relationships too, and I cant say I was totally on the ball about being there for you on that either. I mean, I think I found out about it from VLV or something like that, and then called you to ask about it. How is that for weird?
T: Jesus, I am glad to be fucking away from that whole scene, of self-righteous scum-bag hucksters. It was bad enough dealing with that whole disaster, let alone having to defend myself on the internet while I was at it. Fuck that. Why didnt you warn me about that girl? You went out with her first, and you managed to get out of it without getting your character destroyed.
M: Dude, I wouldnt say we were going out. We hung out for like two or three weeks, tops, and I dont really think she was into me. And it was a long time ago. It was nothing like what you had. And besides, you seemed into her. I remember you calling me to tell me about it. I was like Oh, ok, she is cool and stuff. There was no weirdness between us, because it was pretty much not a big deal, I think we just kind of mutually stopped hanging out. I think you just have a way of bringing out the best in relationships though. People feel intense things towards you, and when it comes to relationships, none of your girlfriends have ever been like lukewarm about things.
T: Well, maybe thats why New York is good for me. People dont really do relationships there like they do anywhere else. Dating is kind of like just another means of social networking, just a way of working your way to what you want, at least that has been my experience. Its more convenient, and maybe even a little bit more selfish, but in kind of a healthy way. Ideally, both parties get what they want, and that is usually just to hang out, and not have a lot of weirdness. There is less tolerance for mediocrity, because, I mean, there are millions of dateable people, and being an even half-decent bartender in that city is not a bad position to be in. But, I think you would have fun there too.
M: Im a terrible bartender, Im sure.
T: I guess I dont really know what your type is, though. Ive only really met like one of your girlfriends. What was her name? That girl with the darker hair that you brought to the Usurp show when we played at that scabies-infested anarchist bookstore place in Bloomington.
M: The Secret Sailor. Yeah. Her name was Brigid.
T: I remember actually kind of showing off when I met her because I thought she was kinda cute.
M: You jerk. Well, she is now married to the drummer for My Morning Jacket.
T: I havent heard them, but I know theyre pretty big, so I guess she made the right decision. Sorry Mormon.
M: Haha, yeah. Obviously. See man, rock drummers. Keep it up.
T: Is this enough material to remind you of why you ever hung out with me or became friends with me in the first place? I really need to say hi to my Magic friends before they leave. I have to pay my respects to my Top 8, ya know.
Travis R. Chance A Man True To His Top 8
P.S. How did Travis get in my Top 8? He told me to do it! So I did.
Sunday, September 17, 2006
Posted by M. H. D. at 10:55 PM