So many musicians these days hold back on performing new songs before their release because they worry about it ending up on YouTube.
Well, not The Fray.
Not only will the "How to Save a Life" band play seven new songs from its still-untitled forthcoming album on its current tour, which includes two nights at the Paramount in Huntington this week, but Fray singer Isaac Slade says he has already learned something about the new songs from watching them on YouTube.
"We played one new song at a show, and there's already a lyric video for it that some fan made," Slade says, laughing. "It was the best thing. He only missed like three words out of me mumbling gibberish through the song. That's pretty damn close. I feel confident now that people understand me."
Slade says he's also OK with people not always understanding him.
"We learned early on, from our first record, that the songs don't belong to us," he says. "We write them, and we try to say as much as we can and make it as good as we can. But as soon as we step onstage and play it, it's not ours. People are going to take it and put their own meaning onto it and draw their own conclusions. They're going to forget about some lines and make certain parts their own personal statements.
"That used to stress me out a lot," Slade continues. "I wanted to explain to each person exactly what I meant. But then I realized this way creates a rich mosaic of experience that people draw from the songs."
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KEEP ON KEEPING ON
Slade says he just hopes people take away the broad messages from The Fray's music.
"If you step back, there is a message of: 'Even if there's bad, there's still good' and 'Even on the worst day, there's still tomorrow,'" he says. "It's not hope exactly, but more of a 'keep going' mentality. I think a lot of people get that. I'm really stoked that people get that in whatever form it is."
That message continues through The Fray's new songs, though Slade, guitarist-vocalist Joe King, guitarist Dave Welsh and drummer Ben Wysocki were determined to change things up musically. They worked with producer Stuart Price, best known for his work with Madonna and The Killers, more dance-oriented acts.
"We wanted to retain our organic heritage and achieve that human feeling, but we also wanted to do that while pushing our boundaries toward electronic stuff," Slade says. "I think he pushed every single one of us to uncomfortable heights."
Wysocki worked with triggers for the first time on his drum sounds, while King worked hard on his background vocals. Price encouraged Welch to freestyle a bit more, which led to him tackling an EDM-styled progression on a guitar rather than the usual keyboards.
Slade says Price pushed him to work harder on his lyrics. "I started finding some ways to talk about happiness without being cheesy," he says.
'ELUSIVE QUALITY OF LOVE'
Price wasn't the only outsider The Fray brought in for the new record, choosing to co-write with several people. They even teamed up for the first time with fellow Denver-based star Ryan Tedder of One Republic.
"We've talked about working together for years, but no one would jump in the pool, so to speak," Slade says. "Denver has such a vibrant music scene and we came up together.... It was like his band was the star of the football team and we were the star of the baseball team, and you want to hang out together, but you don't. It was time we worked together."
The resulting song, "Love Don't Die," is slated to be the first single, due out later this month, which Slate describes as a "really cool, vibey, back-porch stomp song about the eternally elusive quality of love and what it is and what it is not."
"It's odd," he adds, jokingly. "It's a fun song, and we haven't had a fun song since 2005!"
AWAITING FAN REACTION
That new combination has built The Fray's anticipation about seeing how fans react to the new music, which led to the current tour.
"Some of these songs were done 10 months ago," Slade says. "We've been dying to get them out. I've been sharing them with friends and family and the odd stranger, just so I don't go crazy. It's an odd purgatory."
The Fray is excited about the current tour of smaller venues, as they get ready to launch the album in January and plan a big amphitheater tour next summer.
"We always like to ramp up to the big tours," Slade says. "It's going to be a busy year. We're trying to get all our sleep in now."
WHO The Fray
WHEN | WHERE 8 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, the Paramount, 370 New York Ave., Huntington
INFO $49.50-$150; 631-673-7300, ticketmaster.com
HOW 'GREY'S ANATOMY' HAS HELPED MUSIC SALES
The Fray was one of the first bands to benefit from a new age of song placement in TV shows, when its song "How to Save a Life" was used in its entirety in a March 2006 episode of "Grey's Anatomy."
"At that point, we had sold a million records in our entire life," recalls singer Isaac Slade. "After our song was on 'Grey's,' within five or six months, that number doubled."
Here's a look at some other acts that got a boost from the ABC drama and its music supervisor, Alexandra Patsavas:
SONG "Chasing Cars"
USED IN "Losing My Religion," the show's season 2 finale in 2006. It was the soundtrack to the death scene of Denny, Izzy's boyfriend.
EFFECT The Scottish band landed its first Top 5 hit, and the album "Eyes Open" went platinum.
THE POSTAL SERVICE
SONG "Such Great Heights"
USED IN The show's promos for the first season and on the show's first soundtrack
EFFECT It boosted sales of the indie-label band's debut "Give Up," which recently got a flashy new deluxe edition and an arena tour to celebrate its 10th anniversary.
SONG "Keep Breathing"
USED IN "Didn't We Almost Have It All," the show's season 3 finale in 2007. It was the backdrop of the end of Cristina and Burke's relationship.
EFFECT The indie singer-songwriter Michaelson wrote the song specifically for the show, and it ended up on the show's major-label compilation for the season.