By Annika Tomlin
Phoenix musician Shane Travis grew up with a musician father and a love for musical instruments that continued to grow with age.
“Music has been such a huge part of my family since I could start to form memories,” Travis says.
Travis grew up listening to music from every era from Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby to Led Zeppelin and The Beatles. He was given his first drum set at age 4 and didn’t stop there.
He started a small band with friends in elementary school before studying percussion during middle school at the Arizona School for the Arts.
“I took percussion because drums were my main instrument,” he says. “When I got home I would want to play guitar all of the time because you can definitely write songs easier on the guitar than you can on the drum set.”
In high school and college, Travis focused more on songwriting, releasing his first song “Leave Me Tomorrow” in 2017. Since then, Travis has played in several cover and original bands. The COVID-19 pandemic put the brakes on those gigs.
“My main goal is to try and get as many shows for my original band to perform my original songs,” Travis says.
“Obviously this year is really hard for that because of the pandemic, but it’s good because it has allowed me to kind of focus more on writing and finishing up some other material and just kind of getting the back catalog that I have fully ready to kind of just bang, bang, bang release them in a row.”
He released his most recent song “Off My Mind” last month and will release more music soon.
“It’s been good focusing and building some momentum from this year and not looking at it as a bad thing,” he says. “I’m looking at it positively because I am able to focus on my original songs.”
Top Six Favorite Songs of All Time
Disclaimer: The songs listed below were chosen in the moment and are not in a specific order.
“Yesterday” by The Beatles
Let me start with my first band that I loved since the get-go, which is The Beatles. That song exemplifies that all you really need is a vocal and an acoustic guitar. When it really comes down to it that is the whole song. There is a string section that comes in at the end, which is really helpful for that song. But Paul McCartney and his melody writing and his lyrics writing and the fact that it’s just a stripped-down tune it’s extremely, extremely successful as far as worldwide popularity. It really demonstrates to me that sometimes that’s all it takes is a good lyric.
“Since I’ve Been Loving You” by Led Zeppelin
My next song would have to come from the catalog of Led Zeppelin because I’m a huge Led Zeppelin fan. I’m a huge fan because of how powerful they were in the ’70s, but I also really love blues guitar and I appreciate that Jimmy Page, the guitarist, was able to emulate his biggest influences, who were blues guitar players from America. He tried to do his own thing and reinvent it for this song. There’s some really, really, really good blues guitar playing on that song. There’s some really great drumming on it and also really, really amazing vocal performance from Robert Plant from that song.
“Self Control” by Frank Ocean
This is a more of the modern artist. For me, that is almost a modern-day “Yesterday” because it’s really just an electric guitar and his vocals. But the way that Frank can portray his emotions and his voice just from the emotion that he can get out of it, I love that about him. I think that is displayed on that song because it’s really, really just a stripped-down song. He bends and weaves it over the guitar and there is a really great little outro. I love big vocals, big lush harmonies and…there’s a part in the end that I could listen to days on end that I just love hearing all of the vocals that come together.
“Still Feel Like Your Man” by John Mayer
John Mayer was also a big influence on my stuff. I would have to go off one of his newer ones. It’s the first track off of that record and what I love so much about that song is that it tells a great story. It has a great lyrical hook at the chorus, but what’s so great about it, to me, is that it blends and kind of distorts the lines between great musicianship and great songwriting. There’s a lot of really killer staccato and guitar parts that as a guitar player I’m like, ‘Wow, that’s really impressive playing.’ But it doesn’t take away from the song for me, which is always—and he said it himself—the most important part about a song. It’s a perfect blend of playing and songwriting.
“Everybody Wants to Rule the World” by Tears for Fears
The very first concert that I ever saw was Tears for Fears. One of my favorite songs of all time is a Tears for Fears song. I just love the mood that it puts me in. No matter when or where or what time of day or what place, I could put that track on and I can just feel happy. I think it’s because of the nostalgia that it brings back to me. It’s just a crazy cool beat. I’ve never heard of a beat like that on any other song. When you hear it, you know exactly what song it is.
“How Deep Is Your Love” by Bee Gees
I love the song, No. 1, because it’s timeless. I remember being in elementary school and knowing Bee Gees songs even though I had no idea who they were. I was just a 5- or 6-year-old singing Bee Gees songs just because it’s so catchy. This one stands out to me just because of how powerful that melody is in that song. I heard demos of it and what I love about this song is that it made me realize as a songwriter that the demo was a really rough idea. They had certain sections to it that didn’t even make the final cut and there were different lyrics and that a ‘perfect song’ has flaws in the beginning. I liked this song because it reminds me that even the greatest songs of all time had to start somewhere and have flaws and so it takes time to create something.
Preferred way of listening to music and why?
I used to have a studio in my old apartment in Tempe and it was my favorite place, honestly, to listen to music. We had this couch in the middle of the studio and I would sit on my couch and find the perfect spot between the speakers, like the perfect little apex. I would just turn the stereo up so loud, put on my studio monitors and just sit there on the couch and listen to full albums whenever I had the chance. I loved that place because I felt isolated there in that home studio section and I felt like I could just turn up the music as loud as I wanted to really hear everything. I think some of my favorite listening moments were right on that couch.
Desert Island Album
Well I don’t think this was on accident because I was randomly picking through my artists and I clicked on The Beatles. The album that is staring me in the face right now is ‘Abbey Road.’ That is one of the first ones that comes to mind, so I’m just going to have to go with that one because I think it was meant to be.
What artist would provide the soundtrack for the movie about your life?
Sting from The Police but more like Sting as his solo self. I love his lyrics. He paints the most vivid stories and his songs are sometimes so quirky. But if he was going to have to write about my life, he would find the quirky moments of my life and portray it in a really interesting way.
Go-to guilty pleasure track or classic karaoke tune.
My go-to guilty pleasure track would probably be “Don’t Stop Now” by Dua Lipa. That’s just some great well-written pop music right there.
Favorite song by an artist from your country?
“Dreams” by Fleetwood Mac because the songwriter, Stevie Nicks, is from Phoenix and I love, love, love that song. It’s a really popular song. You can’t get any closer than that.