Five things to know about The Fray

Lead singer of band, which played recently in Castle Rock, sounds off

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Denver-based band The Fray made a pitstop in Castle Rock on July 13. Headlining the annual Castle Rock Summer Jam marked the group's first time performing in town.

The Fray, made up of members Joe King, Dave Welsh, Ben Wysocki and Isaac Slade, rose to fame in the early 2000s on hits like “Over My Head (Cable Car)” and “How to Save a Life.”

Slade, lead singer for The Fray, spoke with Colorado Community Media before the show to talk the band's history, music and coming to Castle Rock.

'Picking and choosing'

Castle Rock wasn't one stop on a long list of other tour locations. The Fray isn't on tour or working on new music. Slade said on that front, the band is taking a hiatus, and they've fulfilled a five-record deal with Epic Records.

“We're just kind of playing the shows we want and picking and choosing,” he said, adding a home state crowd “rises to the top of our list real fast.”

Although it was their first performance in Castle Rock, Slade is no stranger to town. He describes it as “such a crossroads of city and the wild frontier out there. I love the juxtaposition.”

“We're really excited,” Slade said of playing in town. “We all grew up on the Front Range and I have some really good friends that live down in Castle Rock.”

How it all began

With 17 years under its belt, the band has been on a whirlwind ride.

It first formed as friends jamming in parents' basements in the summer of 2002. Slade and bandmate King went to high school together but reconnected in college.

“Joe and I ran into each other at a Guitar Center in Westminster,” Slade said.

They struck up a conversation — both were in school but writing music — and agreed to play together for fun.

“We didn't' really know what was going to happen or what was going to come of it.”

With the addition of two more bandmates along with some early turnover in membership, the group has since amassed Grammy nominations, Billboard Music Awards and chart-topping songs worldwide.

The experience

When going to see The Fray in concert, Slade said people can be comfortable embracing their emotions, positive or negative, and whatever is going on in their life. To some fans, the shows are dance parties. To others, they're a place to come after a breakup, or to shed a tear.

“I think because of that we've almost come to view the show itself as a bit of a sacred experience. A space where people bring their pain and they try to find hope,” Slade said. “The Fray is kind of a funny musical entity.”

Slade said he appreciates both atmospheres — a south Miami show filled with dancing or a quiet coffee shop setting.

The cutting room floor

When choosing which songs to put on a record, Slade said the band has refined its process and learned to trust each other. If the band passes up a song one member was passionate about, “it's not a sign of losing an arm wrestle. It's actually a sign that something is not quite true to who we are.”

And when a majority of the members love a song, “those tend to be the fan favorites as well,” Slade said.

“Because it's a collaborative effort and true democratic fashion, I think if one or two people are at least neutral, the other two really excited about something, it usually makes the cutting room floor,” Slade said. “I think all four of us have really come to trust each other's instincts.”

The inspiration

Although each member of the group finds inspiration to write music from different sources, for Slade, it's about the balance in life — understanding that people go through good and bad experiences, often at the same time, he said. Slade wants fans to remember that the world isn't all one or the other.

“I'm sure each guy would answer totally differently,” he said. “For me, it comes back to that tension, that place of holding on to something that makes you laugh and cry at the same time.”

Whether someone is fighting for a marriage, forging a career or questioning his or her religion, Slade wants to share music that speaks to them.

“If some kid can walk away (from a concert) thinking, `OK, maybe it's not all this, maybe it's both,' that's a victory for me,” Slade said.

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