TRAVIS COLLINS is a man known and sought after in Country Music circles, and for good reason - with 7 x CMAA ‘Golden Guitars’, 4 x CMC's and an American ‘CMA Global Artist’ award all in the past three years alone, it’s easy to see that Travis Collins is hitting the top of his game and has established himself as one of the biggest names in Australian country music. Travis speaks to Gman about his life under COVID-19 and his new release “Wreck Me”... Fans of unstoppable homegrown country talent Travis Collins, both old and new, know him as a performer to the tacks of his bootheels. The 2019 CMAA Male Artist of the Year and CMA Global Artist Award-winner is never more at home than he is under stage lights – world-beating band in tow. It’s this captivating dynamism and essential energy that thrills at the core of supercharged new album Wreck Me.
“For a while, we were messing with the idea of calling this Reckless Abandon,” Collins jokes of the album’s guiding ethos. “We were just like, we’re going to find or write songs that we want to go out and play, and never get bored playing.”
For the tireless Collins, the two years since the release of previous studio outing Brave & The Broken can be measured in country miles. That album stormed the charts, spawned a string of No.1 hits, and launched a sweeping national tour that saw Collins and band bring their expansive sound to audiences far and wide.
“I’ve really been spreading my wings with our tour, and with a couple of new band members,” Collins relates. “There were four of us on the road for a lot of years, but now there’s seven of us. It’s quite interesting when new dynamics and new layers of the show are opened up. There’s something that happens with three electric guitars: it’s just so raucous and intense. I’ve been enjoying having those extra colours to play with.”
It’s those extra colours that make Wreck Me the most immediate and invigorating release of Collins’ career to date. “One of the things we did with this record is we kind of just took our live show approach into the studio,” Collins explains. “The guy playing guitar with me on this record is my live guitar player.”
Brave & The Broken arrived amid an immensely rich period in Collins’ already enviable career. Then the CMC Male Artist of the Year for two years running, Collins made 2018 his own. Brave & The Broken landed hot on the tail of three Golden Guitar wins for Our Backyard (2017) with Amber Lawrence, and a CMAA Awards sweep in 2017 on the back of Hard Light (2016), which saw Collins take home Golden Guitars for Male Vocalist of the Year, Song of the Year, and Single of the Year. Hard Light also netted three No.1 hits.
Rounding out an immense few years, Collins took home the 2019 Golden Guitar for Male Artist of the Year, and last year opened for US megastars Tim McGraw and Luke Combs.
Reuniting Collins with super-producer Luke Wooten (Brad Paisley) on three Nashville-recorded tracks, Wreck Me is, above all, an album bathed in the warm glow of friendship and gratitude.
“It was about taking people I work with all the time and trying to get into those good vibes and organic layers,” Collins explains. “I really think you can hear that familiarity and those friendships. I’m in a really grateful period of my life. One of my favourite sayings is: if you see a turtle on a fencepost, he probably had some help getting up there. I think of that and how lucky I am.” True to that, Wreck Me is eloquent proof of the unspoken understanding that exists between a showman and his band, and the studio magic that results. It’s a feeling that finds its clearest expression on the breezy, soulful ‘Better Than You Found 'Em’: ‘you get more when you give, so make a difference.’
Elsewhere, Wreck Me boasts a breathtaking slant on the Eagles’ seminal ‘Desperado’ piloted by Collins’ unmistakable croon, and shivering with feeling. Poignantly, the song was recorded in a Hunter Valley studio in perfect darkness.
“Everybody just had to feel it and not rely on seeing one another,” Collins recalls.
The moving ‘Rainy Day’ is a gentle, earthy sway, and finds Collins giving thanks for the life of a friend lost too soon, while hedonistic love song ‘Damn Girl’ soars on an updraft of raw guitars and juddering drums. There’s ample grit in sweltering, earthy heartbreak anthem ‘Girl Outta the Country’, while ‘Own a Boat’ celebrates simple pleasures against a backdrop of laidback coastal rhythms, before chart-topping single ‘Weekend’ takes the rustic sounds of banjo and acoustic guitar and stirs in whiskey, warmth, and irresistible singalong energy. Rounding out proceedings, ‘Wreck Me’ is a sensuous, guitar-driven country statement, perfectly summing up the album’s overarching sound.
One thing is clear: be it in Bundaberg or Busselton, Wreck Me demands to be experienced live, in a dim-lit venue – and among friends.