Isaac Slade- songs, vocals, piano
Joe King- songs, guitar, vocals
Ben Wysocki- drums
David Welsh- lead guitar
Breakout Box 2: Fray Facts-
Favorite venue to see a show: The Fox Theatre
Would like to tour with in the future: U2
CD currently in CD player: The Arcade Fire and Iain Archer
Favorite Denver Restaurant: Forest Room Five
As the filaments in the overhead lights began to glow and drape the stage of the Paramount Theatre in blue and white, three years of hard work culminated in one moment as The Fray took the stage.
Friday night the Denver-based band played a sold-out show to nearly 2,000 adoring fans during their CD release show in Denver.
"How to Save a Life," the band's most recent album, was their first CD to be released under a major record label, Epic Records. The Fray is the first Denver-based band to be signed to a major label since Big Head Todd and the Monsters was signed in the early '90s.
"Moment," the band's first EP, was funded by a lot of late-night janitorial work but received little recognition in the Denver music scene. It was the release of their second EP, "Reason," that drew the attention of Denver fans who voted The Fray as Westward Magazine's "Best New Band of 2003."
Other Denver bands, from Love45 to Opie Gone Bad, have tried to reach the level of success attained by Big Head Todd. However, The Fray's recent tour with Weezer and upcoming tour with Ben Folds appears to be giving them the chance to break from the confinement of the Denver music scene.
With The Fray's catchy guitar and smooth, smoky vocals, it is no wonder the band has charged to the frontline.
The Collegian had a chance to speak with The Fray's lead singer, songwriter and pianist, Isaac Slade, on the day the CD was released.
Q: When you first started writing music did you ever see yourselves as having the potential to make it big?
A: As a kid I did have a sense of calling that I felt I could be honest with people about my flaws and what I messed up in life. I felt I had the gift to tell people "I'm screwed up and this is why," and they can hopefully take something from that.
Q: What music did you grow up on and how do you feel it influences what you're currently writing?
A: I grew up fairly sheltered in the Christian contemporary music world, and there were some artists that did very little for me musically. But I did key-in early on that the only reason music existed was to communicate things of tremendous worth and value.
Q: About how old were you when you had a sense that you could do something powerful with music?
A: I was 16 when I wrote my first song. I think it took about three years for me to write about regular, everyday life. Then, when I was 19, I started looking at the songs and how all my friends weren't connecting with my music. I pretty much threw them away, literally, and then broke up with my first girlfriend and chose to throw caution to the wind and write about that. That's actually a song on our second EP called "Ocean's Away." It was actually the first song I wrote about my life.
Q: What do you think is the most important thing for a band to do to get attention to get signed with a record label?
A: We get that question a lot actually. People think we have this formula and we need to share it with them. I'm a bit of an idealist so I can only speak about the way it works for us. When I was dishonest about my lyrics – what I thought people wanted to hear – people didn't connect with the songs. People are people. People in Boulder, people in Denver, people in New York, people in suits – they're all the same people. The record labels have music fans that sit around all day and listen to music. So if people aren't connecting with your music, the record label is not going to hear it. So I would say, if there is a formula, it's to write very honestly about the things you care the most about. E-mail lists, bumper stickers and selling merchandise are important, but the most important thing is that you've got the song.
Q: How much do you feed off the crowd's energy when you are in concert?
Even though people may know you across the country, is there something special about Colorado crowds?
A: We played a show in Pennsylvania and there were six people at it. It was our first tour, and it was hard as hell to get the same performance out of us as when we play in Denver. There is something electric about coming home and playing with people that have known us since the beginning. So when we get up stage at Red Rocks, it's like a family reunion.
Q: Where were you when you first heard your song on the radio and what were you doing at the time?
A: The very first time we were on the radio was on 99.5 The Mountain. Jake Schroeder did an interview with us and we played four or five songs. So we went over to Joe's house and tried to set up his parent's fancy home surround stereo system. Schroeder told us to listen to the show at 11. Eleven rolls around, and it's still commercials and blues songs. 11:05, we're dying and 11:10, still nothing. I started getting all these phone calls from people making sure it was the right station and everybody was freaking out. Then at 11:15 it finally got out. It was a trip because it was the first time we got to watch ourselves do what we do. It was the first time I realized people were watching us.
Q: What is your favorite memory of being on the road?
A: We were on tour with Weezer, and they're not very outgoing, so we decided to be outgoing. It was our last night with Weezer and it was at this big coliseum in New York. Right before we played our set we gave Rivers Cuomo a "Thanks Banana." We carved the words "Thanks, Love Fray" on it. Then we jumped on stage and played our set, and when we came back to our dressing room, there was a "You're Welcome Pear." Carved in it was "You're Welcome, Love Weezer," and the true nerd-geek, Rivers, emerged in all his glory.