Travis Collins breaks his recording mould to make rocking new album Wreck Me

SPONTANEOUS: Travis Collins recorded a series of tracks separately over a 12-month period which would eventually be grouped together as his album Wreck Me.
SPONTANEOUS: Travis Collins recorded a series of tracks separately over a 12-month period which would eventually be grouped together as his album Wreck Me.

LAST year Travis Collins knocked off some major bucket list items in one wondrous evening.

First trip to New York and its iconic Madison Square Garden, tick. Watch favourite band The Eagles perform live for the first time, tick. Catch favourite country singer Vince Gill - who became a member of The Eagles in 2017 - tick.

And the cherry on top, The Eagles finished the show with Collins' favourite song, Desperado.

It's an experience that's become even more magical for the Cessnock country star given COVID-19 has seemingly shut down any concerts like The Eagles at Madison Square Garden for the foreseeable future.

"I just felt so moved by that song and I thought there's probably a fair chance a lot of people who follow my music and the younger country fans may never have heard Desperado," Collins says.

That led to Collins recording his own version of Desperado to close his new album Wreck Me, out on Friday.

"Me recording it has nothing to do with me thinking I do a great version, it's me purely saying, 'Hey here's a great song I want you guys to hear it'," he says. "'Here's my spin on it and hopefully you can hear the emotion in it and what it means to me'.

INSPIRED: Travis Collins decided to record a cover of Desperado after seeing The Eagles live in New York.

INSPIRED: Travis Collins decided to record a cover of Desperado after seeing The Eagles live in New York.

"Hopefully it's a way of picking up the torch and running with it and showing everyone it's a bloody good song."

Collins also adopted an unorthodox method of recording Desperado to heighten the emotion of the track.

The lights were turned off in the Hunter Valley studio, as was the click track, which is an audio clue used to synchronize the recording.

"Everybody just had to pre-empt it, you almost had to feel the song," Collins says.

"It's a really cool way to do it. It's a disastrous way to do it if you don't get it right.

It's a really cool way to do it. It's a disastrous way to do it if you don't get it right.

Travis Collins

"It took quite a few goes, but after the third or fourth take we turned the lights back on and thought we'd done something special."

In fact, Collins broke away from many of his tried and tested studio methods when recording Wreck Me.

Collins describes Wreck Me as being an "accidental child."

For the past year Collins recorded songs sporadically in Nashville, Sydney and the Hunter Valley, rather than saving them all for a concerted studio session.

"It was just the pursuit of songs and catching them when we thought we had one," he says.

By the start of this year his management had noticed Collins had nine tracks in "the folder" and convinced him the quality was there to release a new album.

"I went back and listened to it and because we didn't do it by the usual process, you can really hear it," he says.

"Every song stands on its own and has its identity and sonic sound. They're so much broader than anything we've done before because in the past I've been thinking about an album.

"This time we were really just doing one song at a time and doing what was best for that one song."

For the first time Collins also chose to use his live band of Michael Cole (guitar), Scott Greenaway (bass) and Brad Bergen (drums) on the album.

It provides Wreck Me with a more energetic and rawer sound than his previous albums.

Travis Collins - Rainy Day

On the surging country-rock of the title track and Girl Outta The Country the guitars crunch in unison and drums have hypnotic swing.

Then on Damn Girl Collins even dabbles with loops before exploding in an anthemic chorus, backed by cascading guitars.

"Usually when you go into make a studio album you talk yourself out of things like that because you feel you've got to have the No.1 gun session players," he says.

"That's great and they're technically amazing, but there's something that happened on this record. You can hear these guys are mates.

"You hear that there's friendship and you can hear the smiles on the backing vocals."

Collins' career has been firing on an upward trajectory in recent years since the 2016 release of his album Hard Light.

The record spawned three country No.1 hits and earned Collins his first Golden Guitar awards - after a host of nominations - for best Male Artist, Song of the Year and Single of the Year.

Then his 2017 collaboration with Amber Lawrence, Our Backyard, netted another three Golden Guitars and then Brave & The Broken (2018) snared his second straight Country Music Channel Male Artist of the Year award.

The success has opened doors for Collins and also increased his own confidence in his songwriting.

"That doesn't come from awards or anything," he says. "We've been so active out on the road and now through COVID with my concerts online I feel I'm getting more connected to my listeners and hearing them and what they like, and even what they don't like.

"I feel I know who they are and when I go to the studio I'm more confident in backing what I think it needs to sound like, while maybe earlier in my career I was led around by other people in what my records should sound like."

Travis Collins' album Wreck Me is out on Friday.

This story Happy accident made first appeared on Newcastle Herald.