The Fray on Mastering Democratic, Universal Pop Music
Published: Thursday, July 26, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, August 1, 2012 00:08
College Times is giving away a pair of tickets to see The Fray and Kelly Clarkson in Phoenix. To enter to win, click here.
The Fray is one of those bands that you’ve probably heard whether you wanted to or not. Since its debut album, How To Save A Life (2005), the group’s romantic and passionate music has been on TV, on the radio and in movies. The Fray’s style is universally pleasing and unassuming, which lends itself to the group’s mass appeal. Denver bandmates Isaac Slade (pianist/vocalist), Joe King (guitarist/vocalist), Dave Welsh (guitarist) and Ben Wysocki (drummer) keep raising the bar to garner such success.
Their latest album, Scars & Stories, is as thoughtful as it gets. Slade’s lyrics are on point after a soul searching trip resulted in vastly different themes. His honest renditions of events he’s witnessed results in confident songs that are great for personal and commercial consumption.
This summer, The Fray is co-headlining a tour with Kelly Clarkson, a seasoned veteran when it comes to playing huge stadium tours.
Wysocki was eating breakfast when College Times caught up with him to chat about the new album and how it feels to share music with the masses. The band was still rehearsing for a couple days before the tour with Clarkson started.
“It’s gonna take longer than we’re usually use to,” Wysocki said. “I think [Clarkson] takes like every other day off and we’re not use to that. I think we can learn something from her. We always love touring in the summer. We’re looking forward to it.”
While the band formed in 2002, they quietly built a following for several years. Once they were signed to Epic Records, they took off like a rocket and haven’t looked back since.
“It wasn’t that long since our first record came out but a lot has changed and it feels good,” Wysocki said. “We have a new level of confidence, I think, in ourselves that we didn’t have before. We think this is the best record we’ve made and we’re really proud. It feels good to know we can be ourselves. It’s a new thing.”
For the band members, success has nothing to do with money. They simple want to make music the only way they know how and hopefully that will be enough to engage audiences.
Wysocki said the band is a democracy and works together to craft the songs. That process has been improved with this newest album.
“It’s a little different for every record but we all found our role, or departments that we all enjoy in the band,” he said. “I couldn’t write a lyric to save my life but Isaac is a poet. Usually it’s obvious where the song wants to go.”
Wysocki said hearing himself on the radio is one of the weirdest experiences there is and refers to radio as a “really, really huge important monster.” Not many bands are able to break into top 40 radio stations and have their music played constantly to millions of people.
“People are hearing your music without your having control of it,” he said. “It’s a total mind trip.”
Wysocki said he doesn’t get used to it but rather contemplates how it is that they’ve found themselves in the company of other bands or artists that are contemporary.
“Sometimes when you hear your song on the radio it’s really strange to hear the song that came before or after ourselves,” he said.
And that’s just it, The Fray’s music isn’t manufactured pop and doesn’t fit comfortably in any obvious music genre, yet it’s extremely pliable. The band tends to play nice no matter what it’s sandwiched between.
The band is more comfortable licensing songs to movies or TV shows. Their songs have been played on “Greys Anatomy,” “Vampire Diaries,” “NCIS,” “One Tree Hill” and “Bones” among others.
Wysocki said it’s interesting to see someone else interpret the song and to see it interact with the stories and characters in the shows.
“It’s really humbling and amazing to watch people connect to the songs,” Wysocki said. “That’s more successful in our minds, when we can make music that connects to people.”
Kelly Clarkson w/The Fray, Carolina Liar, US Airways Center, August 1, 7 p.m., $30 to $70