The Fray have returned with an intimate look at how the band finally came to terms with itself in the form of a new album, Scars and Stories which hit shelves nationwide earlier this week. The Denver based quartet sold millions of records with their hit singles “Over My head (Cable Car)” and “How To Save a Life” and are back for more.
To celebrate the release of Scars and Stories, the affable musicians chose to play at the intimate Housing Works Book Café. Seeing The Fray in such a small venue was a real treat for fans. With Valentine’s Day around the corner, the crowd was a mix of die hard fans and quite a few couples. You could almost see the cartoon hearts rising above the audience’s heads and popping with a burst of cupid’s bow.
We were lucky enough to catch up with Isaac Slade before he hit the stage for soundcheck before the show.
New York Press: So could you tell me where you got the inspiration for the name of your new album Scars and Stories?
Isaac: Well, it plays into this idea that scars are sexy. There are a lot Mel Gibson, Meg Ryan kinds of movies where you’ll have this guy who meets a girl and eventually takes his shirt off. Then they lie in bed and she traces his scars. It’s a really intimate thing where you can see all the hard things that someone has gone through in life. Our latest album draws a sort of parallel to that where we’re trying to become intimate with our fans.
What exactly do you mean by this intimacy?
I: We were going through an identity crisis with ourselves as a band. With our second album, we knew a little of what to expect but we didn’t really know who we were. Its like when you have someone trying to convince you and saying something tentatively. You can tell. You call bullshit on that. This time we’ve found our voice. If people don’t like it, I can respect that. If they don’t believe us then they’re simply not listening to us.
Sometimes you’ve got to take your time to do it right. Were there any difficulties?
I: When you try to express yourself creatively, you’ll run into difficulties. It comes out poorly at first, but then you massage it, finesse it, and strangle it if you have to. But probably the most difficult thing is asking yourself the big questions of who you are. Are we in this big pop rock, top 40, alternative Bermuda Triangle or do we pretend that we’re a small indie band from Denver that never tours. You’ve got to pick one.
Could you tell us what your single Heartbeat is about?
I: Right before I wrote it, I took a trip to Rwanda and spent some time with their President. Over there, there is this energy in the air that is almost like a pulse. You’ve got to realize that that country almost died, but somehow it managed to survive through all that. I heard stories from people that lived there for over 20 years. It’s about pain and heartbreak and coming through impossible odds.
How long were you working on this record?
I: I’d say two years because that’s how long it took us to write Munich. Some songs we did in a whirlwind really quick but some things took a long time.
And for this record you also switched producers from Aaron Johnson and Mike Flynn to Brendan O’Brien who is known for his work with Neil Young and Pearl Jam. What prompted the switch?
I: Joe and Brendan are golfing buddies we wanted to change up the energy. There are all brand new songs. We wanted turned the pianos down and the guitars up and Brendan is really good with guitars. Plus we also wanted to work with a big shot producer.
Is there a particular reason you chose to play here at the Housing Works Book Café?
I: We’re doing this for charity and because we really like Alan Light who is on the board there. He knows what the hell he’s talking about. So we looked into what he’s doing and were really into it and how they’re helping homeless people with AIDS with job training, food, medicine, and whatever else they need.
— By Andrew Rice
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