The Fray perform "Run For Your Life" from their album Scars and Stories.
Its been a whirlwind couple of years for The Fray, the Denver-based quartet whose earnest and melodic songs have been striking a huge chord with audiences. Formed in 2002 by Isaac Slade (vocals, piano) and Joe King (guitar, vocals), The Fray owe all of their early success to their organic, grassroots beginnings. In other words, they did it the old fashioned way: they earned it. Its a story you dont hear much anymore these days: local area gigs led to enthusiastic local press and local radio support.
Joe and Isaac were former schoolmates who bumped into each other unexpectedly, and one thing led to another they started writing songs together. The songs were catchy enough to attract two of Slades former bandmates drummer Ben Wysocki and guitarist Dave Welsh who soon joined, completing the bands lineup.
The Fray garnered an early following through impressive area gigs and the support of local radio, which led to a listener-driven campaign to get the band a record contract. With strong word-of-mouth, the band won "Best New Band" honors from Denver's Westword magazine and got substantial airplay on two of Denver's top rock stations - the demo version of "Over My Head (Cable Car)" became KTCL's top 30 most played song of 2004 in just 4 months. And the listener campaign worked: the band signed to Epic Records in 2004. Fittingly, instead of closing the deal in an office or hotel room, they signed on the dotted line onstage at the Fox Theatre in Boulder, Colorado.
The groups organic rise to fame is key to their long range plans: I think it's vital to the longevity of a band, Joe King says. Of course Denver is where it all started, but word spread across the country via the internet even before radio stations were playing us. I remember on our first headlining tour, we would play cities where we werent on the radio at all, and the venue would be full of people singing our lyrics. He adds, Some people think we came out of nowhere quickly, but we had been working hard for four years before the mainstream public had heard about us.
Dave Welsh adds, The grassroots is where music lives and breathes, where it finds its energy and its passion. Music can still exist when it becomes mainstream, but only if it has firm roots with the fans at home. I think you become a musician at home, and simply refine that skill on the road as a touring, major label band.
The first single from How To Save A Life, Over My Head (Cable Car) climbed into the top 10 on the Billboard singles chart, has been certified platinum, and was streamed more than a million times on MySpace in just one month. Indeed, MySpace has been good the to the band: theyve been streamed over 16 million times, they have had more than 5 million views and close to 300,000 friends on the networking site. The Fray doesnt fit easily into any niche, and they dont need to: word of mouth (or, word of digital mouth) has been good enough. The songs stand on their own, no clever marketing or catering to genres necessary.
Over My Head (Cable Car) was inspired by Isaac Slades temporary estrangement from his brother: It is about a fight I got in with my brother, Caleb. After he graduated high school, we drifted apart and really hadn't spoken in a long time. One day we both realized that we needed to fight it out. We'd been friends for twenty years. That's a long time when you're only 23 years old. We fought it out, and he's one of my best friends today.
It turns out that The Fray's music has resonated with lots of people: they are one of the most licensed bands of 2006, with their music being featured on Scrubs, Greys Anatomy, What About Brian, NCIS, One Tree Hill and Bones as well as in HBOs summer promos. Joe King: I would say my favorite so far would be the recent HBO spot and the Grey's Anatomy spot, both using 'How To Save A Life. I remember last year seeing the Aqualung HBO spot and was shocked and almost jealous by how good it was. I called our managers and asked if we could get a spot like that, and I remember him saying, 'That's a tough one.' When I watched our HBO spot I didn't move, I don't even remember breathing because I had the chills.