This past February, the Fray released Scars & Stories, the band's third full-length release, produced by Brendan O'Brien. "I believe in this record," Joe King told us. "I believe it's our best work. I believe that we're better now and we've written better songs than we ever have." Scars marks a bit of a departure for the group. The music draws from a much bolder and more dynamic palette, while the lyrics tend to rely a little more on subtlety.
With that in mind, we caught up with the Fray's chief songwriters, King and Isaac Slade, and the two gave us the full story behind the songs on the new record, a complete track-by-track breakdown, which you can read in its entirety on the Backbeat blog at bit.ly/frayscarsandstories. In the meantime, here's the story behind "Run for Your Life," the act's latest single.
Isaac Slade: "Run for Your Life" was a unique songwriting process. Joe and I went to a remote studio in Leipers Fork, which is kind of a remote area outside Nashville. We went to a studio called Dark Horse and just walked into a room with a grand piano and a guitar and wrote two or three songs. This one came from thin air, you know? We started with this idea of twins, two sisters, one makes it, one doesn't. We really wrote it about the one that is left, the survivor, who's sort of wracked with guilt, like, "Why me?"
We kind of put it in contrast to this African concept of sankofa. It's basically this concept of: If your village burns down, go back to it and pick through the ashes and find anything good, and then take it with you and leave and never look back. It's like an acknowledgement of tragedy and hardship, alongside celebration, almost, and thankfulness for what you have. Kind of run as fast as you can from that black hole of guilt.
Joe King: I had been brewing on this word "sankofa" for a while. The word is an African word, and it's where a villager would go back to their village that had been destroyed by whatever, fire or famine or whatever, and they would go back through the destruction, and they would dig through the mess and the dirt and the rubbish, and they would pull anything from that destruction and take it with them to their new dwelling place.
For me, that whole confident truth is in me. There are legitimate things that have been destroyed in my life, but how I respond to it is everything. Going back to it is kind of difficult because you have to face it and try to pull the good from those things, because there are still diamonds in there and there are still some good things in there that aren't destroyed that you can take with you. It brewed from that, and then we combined it with the story of two sisters. So, yeah, that song has a pretty close place in my heart.