By Annie Reuter
Coming off the release of 2012’s Scars & Stories — helmed by legendary producer Brendan O’Brien — The Fray have decided to switch gears. The band teamed up with London producer Stuart Price for their fourth release, Helios. And if you ask frontman Isaac Slade and guitarist Joe King, they’ll tell you he’s the guy who helped them push their sound to a new level.
“He’s a DJ by night, producer by day,” Slade told Radio.com. “He would bring in a new piece of 1970s electronics every week and just show us how to plug things in and get the weirdest sounds out of it.”
Likening him to a scientist, Slade said Price worked with each band member individually to open up and expand their sound. Price even suggested that guitarist Dave Welsh switch to the synths as a new way of mimicking the chords he would usually play on his guitar.
“[Price] jumped into each one of our cubicles and pushed me like crazy on getting that third or fourth vocal take instead of 30 or 40 takes, which I usually do, ” Slade said, adding. “He got into each one of our worlds, figured out the limits and pushed them.”
The band also got a little help from OneRepublic‘s Ryan Tedder, who wrote and produced The Fray’s latest single, “Love Don’t Die.” Though it’s just their first time working with Tedder, the OneRepublic frontman has known King since he was a teenager.
“I played high school soccer against him,” King explained. “We connected right when both of our bands were trying to get signed. We were emailing each other, ‘Who are you talking to?’ We had this artistic trust together against the industry and for each other.”
Over the years, the two continued to stay in touch, sending music back and forth and giving feedback. But it wasn’t until now that they decided to collaborate.
“It finally got to the point that he said, ‘Let’s see what happens. Let’s write something. We’ve been friends forever,'” King recalled. “We knocked out the song in an hour-and-a-half.”
It has been over eight years since The Fray came onto the scene their first single “Over My Head (Cable Car)” and while they admit they’re not too sure if they should be considered a rock band or pop act, they’re certain they found the right balance on their fourth release. “We’ve always been walking that fine line and dancing between John Mayer and Fall Out Boy,” Slade said, talking about the band’s desire to be an artistic, but commercially viable band, which isn’t always easy. “If you go too business it starts sounding like cash registers. If you go too art, you sell 1,000 copies out of your trunk and you have to keep your day job,” Slade said. “We’re always balancing that. The first two records were that perfect balance and then we went a little more art and now we’re trying to level it back out with the fourth record.”
Helios is out February 25.
Complete Helios track listing below.
01. Hold My Hand
02. Love Don’t Die
03. Give It Away
04. Closer to Me
06. Keep On Wanting
07. Our Last Days
08. Break Your Plans
09. Wherever This Goes
10. Shadow and a Dancer
11. Same as You