20M Singles Sold, 20 Questions with The Fray

Hitmakers Celebrate ‘Through The Years’ with Fans at the Beacon
the-fray-by-frank-ochenfels-3

“We have played all the New York venues, the Beacon is one of New York’s classic, beautiful theaters.”

For over 10 years, fans have wept, smiled and felt inspired by The Fray’s feel-good piano anthems and inviting pop-rock sound. The Denver-based band has actually been together since 2002 and celebrates their 20 million singles sold with “Through The Years: The Best of The Fray” featuring three new songs as well as those can’t-get-out-of-your-head 2000s anthems like “How To Save A Life,” “Cable Car (Over My Head),” “Never Say Never,” “You Found Me,” “Heartbeat” and more.

Led by singer Isaac Slade, guitarist and singer Joe King, drummer Ben Wysocki and guitarist David Welsh, the foursome graces the Beacon Theatre Wednesday, November 9 for a night of feels and fans, all while making new memories along the way. In honor of the band’s 20M singles sold, Joe King was a trooper for NYCMonthly.com’s 20 Questions, where we learned he’s a “cool dad,” Emergen-C is a reliable remedy, Beyonce is name-dropped twice, and yes really, there is a First and Amistad…

The Fray has sold 20M singles which is kind of a big deal. You’re playing the Beacon Theatre after having released your Through The Years hits album last week. What is it like to come back to New York off the heels of a greatest hits album where you have built so much of your success?

Yeah, I mean honestly there’s always a build-up to New York shows, it’s like the tour leads to the New York show. The fact that we’re still doing this fourteen years in is like beyond me, it’s very difficult for any band to last just a couple years and we’ve got great fans, we are enjoying playing for the fans. We have played all the New York venues, the Beacon is one of New York’s classic, beautiful theaters.

The longest-running #1 of the year is “Closer” by the Chainsmokers and Halsey. You and The Fray lead singer Isaac Slade are credited co-writers on this track. Did you ever think this song would take off as it did?

First off, I’m going to put out an open-ended invite to DJs to go ahead and use our songs. That was a left field moment, they reached out to us before the song came out and it was completely friendly and they wanted to work out a split. It’s a monster song and congrats to them. I’m a father of a 14-year-old and now I’m the cool dad again cause all her friends love that song.

If you had a subway ride long enough for five songs, what would be on that playlist?

I was listening to Peter Gabriel’s “So” record, we have vinyl we bring out on the road, probably a couple off that record and then I would say a couple songs off of “Graceland” (Paul Simon) that I’d have on the playlist and then throw in some Beyonce.

If “How To Save A Life” was not used for “Grey’s Anatomy,” what other TV show or film past or present do you think this song would be perfect for?

I was hoping for The Simpsons but that never came through. I wouldn’t care if they completely made fun of us, just to have a song featured on The Simpsons was like my all-time goal. We’re gonna keep going as a band ’til we get a Simpsons song.

The Lumineers, The Fray, OneRepublic, Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats all hail from Colorado. Is the music community in Colorado friendly, do you know all these bands personally?

Absolutely. Denver is one of the best cities to be from if you’re an artist, it really is. Theres’s such a support there, it seems like the track record has been – there’s a pattern – every year or two there’s an artist that breaks through, people love going to shows there. Even the local government, our governor loves going to shows.

What’s your favorite part about Denver?

The fact that we’re a progressive state, I’m proud to be from a state that has pushed the line on quite a few fronts. It just makes me proud. Beyond that, people are so friendly, it’s just a beautiful place to live.

What’s your favorite part about New York?

My God, there’s so much. I’ve always said that if I had kids young I would have come to New York to resonate with the energy there, there’s stories all around. I feel like I have to bring my A-game to that city. You either go to the city to receive something or to give something.

Broadway’s great, I’m inspired by it, Hamilton, there’s constantly stuff going on.

Happening now!! #hamilton

A photo posted by Joe King (@josekingseco) on

What NYC landmark have you not yet had a chance to visit, and why would you like to go?

I’ve never been to Ellis Island. I’d love to do that. I recently did the Empire State Building for the first time and had a blast. I paid a little extra and it was worth it to skip the line.

OK, so we have been wondering for years, where is “the corner of First and Amistad” (in the song “You Found Me”)?

You know, we recently found out that there is a First and Amistad in Texas somewhere. I had no idea, a fan sent us a message and sent a photo of the sign, somewhere outside of Waco.

“Through The Years” is the band’s new retrospective album of hits. Through the years, what is one of The Fray’s best memories of New York City?

Probably playing Hillary Clinton’s birthday party. We were playing the Bowery, and the day before her people called us up. She was having a birthday party in Central Park and they asked us to sing a couple songs and we said we have to play a show, but we got a police escort and went all the way back to the Bowery. It’s the fastest I’ve ever gotten from midtown to downtown. It was one of those surreal moments.

What was the most memorable broadcast performance The Fray did in New York?

Probably the first time we did Letterman, that was one of the more stressful moments. We were a very young band then too.

Who is an artist The Fray would like to work with?

Beyonce. I think every artist would like to work with her.

What’s one song you wish The Fray wrote that’s a big hit?

“Somebody That I Used To Know.” (Gotye)

Late night, does the band prefer NYC diners or NYC pizza?

Pizza.

Maxwell and Mary J. Blige, St. Paul and The Broken Bones, Norah Jones, Billy Joel, Ani DiFranco, Keith Urban, Elle King, Good Charlotte, Ingrid Michaelson are all playing in NYC this month in addition to The Fray. If you had to pick one of them to duet with, who would it be?

Honestly, any one of them. Good Charlotte might be a bit too many skinny jeans for one stage to handle, but if I had to pick one, I’d say the great Billy Joel, perhaps a piano duel? Which wouldn’t really be duel ‘cause he would smoke us.

How did The Fray pair up with American Authors as your openers on this tour?

I’m a fan and supporter of any band that is actually trying to make it in this difficult business. It’s incredibly hard for a band in this current model to even make a living, so when we found out that American Authors were available for the tour, we jumped at it. These guys are great, real musicians with great songs, and the fans are loving them, so I think everyone is happy.

 The Fray’s appeal and fanbase is global. Besides the U.S., is there one place around the world you think the band would agree you have been welcomed consistently over the years?

I wish I could say Iceland, because I’ve always wanted to play there and maybe someday we will, but if there is one place I’d say it’s the Philippines. Not only do the Filipino fans come out in droves for the shows, but they are constantly tweeting at us to come back and commenting on nearly every post to tell us that they love us. Basically they are like the ultimate girlfriend.

Is there an under-the-radar song by The Fray that really resonates during your live shows that might be unexpected?

“Heaven Forbid” has felt incredible this tour.

“Over My Head (Cable Car)” is tied with Santana’s “Smooth” as the 7th-longest running single on the Billboard Hot 100 at 58 weeks. Do you ever get sick of playing your hits?

Are you trying to start a fight between us and Rob Thomas? ‘Cause my money is on Rob. That dude is a hardcore east coast native, and he don’t fuck around, ok? When I do feel that hint of sickness coming on, I usually will take an Emergen-C and that helps me.

Going into the holidays, what’s something you think is special this time of year in New York City?

I do have to say New York is pushing the limit on how soon you can set up Christmas decorations. We get it, New York City Christmas time is the best, but New York City Christmas time around Halloween feels depressing. Write your local congressman or woman cause it’s gone too far New York.