When the Fray shared a bill with Kelly Clarkson at a holiday benefit concert last December, the Denver group had no idea it would lead to a full-blown summer tour.
"We just really hit it off," says frontman and keyboardist Isaac Slade. "We became texting buddies and kept it touch and talked about the tour and what we'd want it to look like. We really respect her and her work and what she's done with the cards dealt to her. She's been an incredible artist for 10 years.
"I didn't know if it would work, but it's going great. It's a great dynamic."
For the Fray, the tour with Clarkson is a chance to wheel out songs from its third album, "Scars & Stories," which debuted at No. 4 on the Billboard 200 when it was released in February. With singles such as "Heartbeat" and "Run For Your Life" joining previous Fray hits like "Over My Head (Cable Car)," "How To Save a Life" and "You Found Me," Slade feels like the album -- which was largely conceived on the road -- took him and songwriting partner Joe King, the Fray's guitarist, in some new directions.
"Just looking over the songs, they feel so 'us,' " Slade, 31, explains. "I think (2009's gold 'The Fray') was the big, extroverted, sort of out-there response to the first, kind of introverted one (2005's double-platinum 'How to Save a Life.' And this third one was just a chance for us to face my demons and tackle some of the issues and fears and the residue from being in a band for 10 years.
"I know that sounds cliche or something, but there's not a song on this album that feels like we're reaching or 'Oh, I hope people like this...' It feels like it's a constant statements and time capsules of who we are right now."
Slade adds that he and King wrote more than 70 songs for "Scars & Stories," which means the Fray has something of a head start towards it next album after breaks of three and four years between its first three.
The Fray performs with Kelly Clarkson and Carolina Liar at 7 p.m. Friday, Aug. 10, at the DTE Energy Music Theatre, Sashabaw Road east of I-75, Independence Township. Tickets are $30-$75 pavilion, $27.50 lawn with a $75 lawn four-pack. Call 248-377-0100 or visit www.palacenet.com.
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