Music

Travis, Chris Martin & Brandon Flowers Pour One Out for a Shuttered East Village Pub on ‘Raze the Bar’

Complaining about change in New York City is about as useful as moaning about rats on the subway tracks, but everyone – natives, adopted locals, frequent visitors – does it. And there’s a good reason why: It hurts to see a beloved haunt shutter for good.

The pandemic wiped out plenty of storied Manhattan bars and restaurants, among them the East Village bar Black and White. With low ceilings, red-and-orange-striped walls, dark lighting and reliably great music (everything from Southern soul to British post-punk was spun on vinyl), Black and White occupied that necessary space between low-key and high-octane, making it suitable for everything from post-work happy hour to first dates to nightcaps after a concert.

It was effortlessly cool yet unpretentious, and you didn’t need to be a New Yorker to love it – case in point, Travis’ new song “Raze the Bar.” The cleverly titled single finds the Scottish rockers melding the elegiac with the anthemic to pay homage to the defunct bar, its owners and staff – with guest vocalists Chris Martin of Coldplay and Brandon Flowers of The Killers stopping by for a shot (at the mic).

“If you played a show at Irving Plaza or Webster Hall, chances are you ended up at Black and White till the wee small hours,” explained frontman Fran Healy in a statement. “’Raze the Bar’ is a song about a fictional last night in the bar. [Co-owner] Johnny is in there, Jack, Richard and Johnny’s brother and bar co-owner Chris. The cameos were almost an afterthought! I just called Chris Martin in a bit of a panic because I couldn’t figure out what the track sequence should be. When Chris heard it, he was like, ‘That song is the best thing you’ve ever written!’ And because he and Brandon Flowers both live quite near…”

The track will feature on the band’s upcoming album L.A. Times, out July 12.

Black and White doesn’t just hold a special place in Healy’s heart – it occupies a spot in Billboard lore as well. Many a Billboard staffer (and alumni) gathered at the bar to celebrate, commiserate, come up with ideas and vent while draining the bar of Prosecco and Goose Island.

With “Raze the Bar,” Travis has delivered a rousing round of nostalgia to pour one out for an East Village mainstay.

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