Published May 19, 2010Atmospheric indie rock duo Travels have set June 10 for the release date of their third and gloriously minimalist album, Robber on the Run. And as singer/guitarist Anar Badalov recently told Exclaim!, "Robber is, in my opinion, the best of our three albums."
Badalov explains: "We've learned how to record a little better, yet I think we still held onto an intimate sound; I'm happier with the lyrics, the newer organ and piano sounds, the drums and samples, everything. It's more developed and works better as a full record, too."
The band, which call Somerville, MA home, consists of Badalov (ex-Metal Hearts) and Mona Elliott (ex-Victory at Sea). Even though there are striking similarities to Badalov's songwriting in Metal Hearts (who released one album on Suicide Squeeze Records in 2005) and Elliott's contributions to Victory at Sea (who released albums on Kimchee Records and Slowdime Records in the early 2000s), Travels is a completely different creative outlet for the duo, according to Badalov.
"Metal Hearts felt very different from Travels," he says. "The drum machine and my guitar playing is what I brought from that experience. Lyrically, Travels is different. I don't feel angry or depressed like I did when I was in Metal Hearts; we were young, inexperienced, and too obsessed with the same music scene that I very much despise now. Travels is fun."
Badalov, who moved to Baltimore with his family from the Soviet Union when it dissolved in the early '90s, met Boston post-hardcore scene staple Elliot on tour in 2006, and the two soon moved in together. Which begs the age-old question, how do you balance creating art with the person with whom you share a bed?
"The growing pains have been surprisingly minor compared to the growth," explains Elliott. "I'd never been in a band that practised and recorded and wrote and did everything else at home. I was used to preparing songs to go into the studio and having set times to practice in a space. I think I've become more relaxed with this, and Anar has become more diligent. We've met in the middle, which I enjoy very much. The pressure that I put on myself is gone and, for the most part, we go in our little music room and have a blast."
Adds Badalov, "I don't think of Travels as a 'band,' but rather two people in a relationship that happen to have a common creative outlet."
Best of all, the duo's success is measured by their own happiness with their music, and is achieved on their own terms. The new 11-track album is being released worldwide by Own Records (Trouble Books, Talons', Uzi and Ari), a small European label in Luxemborg that shares the same DIY aesthetic as the band. As a result, Robber on the Run, feels like a real, tangible piece of art, something not very easy to do in the digital age.
"We have jobs and we can't tour how a bigger indie label would want us to; we're normal human beings and want to continue to have choices," says Badalov. "Plus, it's nice not to be squished into any kind of hipster music scene, which can happen if you end up on a label that has an aesthetic unlike your own."
Says Elliott, "Plus, it's really nice meeting so many supportive people. We had email contact with everyone who bought a CD, and putting together packages for people is super fun. We even got a few very nice packages in return: art work, music and really nice little gifts."
As of yet Travels have not announced a tour in support of Robber on the Run, but if we're lucky the group may soon embark on a some North American dates. In the meantime, you can pre-order the album here.
Robber on the Run: 1. "Swimming"
2. "Burr Song"
4. "Staring Back"
6. "Warm in Winter"
7. "City in Lights"
8. "Friends in Bands"
9. "What You Haven't See"
11. "My Funny Valentine"