Who: U2 and The Fray
When: 6 p.m. Saturday
Where: Invesco Field, Denver
The Fray's ready to open Saturday's U2 concert at Invesco Field, but this Colorado band's looking ahead to the future.
The local group's recording a new album in Nashville with studio pro Brendan O'Brien (Stone Temple Pilots, Pearl Jam). Fray fans can look forward to a rocking album that's going to give some teeth to the Colorado outfit.
The Fray rose to fame with its emotionally charged pop tunes. The group scored Top 40 hits with "Over My Head (Cable Car)" and "How to Save a Life." Along the way, the band put the Colorado music scene on the map.
"I was working at Starbucks, trying to figure out my life and where I could get lunch for $6 when this took off," frontman Isaac Slade said of the band's rise. "Suddenly, we were whisked away to New York and the powers that be sent us out into America.
"We've been hanging on to that runaway train ever since. Though, I do miss Starbucks some days."
The Fray's debut record, How to Save a Life, went on to become platinum, and the band's self-titled record received gold status.
"It's nice to be able to go to shows and have the kids in the front row know all the words to the songs," Slade said.
Now The Fray's cooking up a new batch of songs -- and they're taking a U-turn along the way.
"We've been working on our third record," Slade said. "Our first record was like a handshake or a greeting. The second record showed a deeper side of us -- our fears and hopes.
"For the third record, we got to sit down and spend some time with the songs to get them where we want them. A good artist never feels that good art is ever quite done. This is like the first dinner we get to have with the public."
The Fray enlisted the help of producer O'Brien to achieve their goal. In a surprise move, the band traveled to Nashville to record the project.
O'Brien's production skills created signature records for Stone Temple Pilots, Pearl Jam, Rage Against the Machine, Velvet Revolver, Bruce Springsteen, Train and My Chemical Romance.
"Sonically, we wanted to make this record sound as close as possible to the live shows," Slade said. "Brendan had recorded some of our favorite bands, and he brought a really live sound to Pearl Jam and Bruce Springsteen records.
"We wanted to capitalize on that. He has a rock sensibility and knows the tastes of the public."
The Fray wanted to achieve a live sound on the album -- and they wanted this record to rock.
"This will be more of a rock record," Slade confirmed. "We've already got six tunes and they're pretty much straight ahead rock anthems.
"All the stuff we've been writing has a lot of rich aggression. It's what the lyrics called for -- an emotion that we're trying to translate. We're turning it up a little bit."
Not to worry. The Fray is still pouring dramatic emotions into the new lyrics.
"The first couple of records asked a lot of questions," Slade explained. "In a sense, this record answers some of those questions."
The Fray still has work to do on the new album, but the band's taking time off to open several U2 shows.
Who says no to Bono?
"They asked us and we said yes," Slade said. "I'm glad that they did. It feels good to play this show in Denver and we feel ready.
"I asked if I could sneak into Invesco and they let me play the new songs on the speakers. It feels so right to play them in our hometown."
Opening acts typically warm up audiences, but locals are looking forward to the Fray's set.
That's why the Denver band's already mapped out Saturday's set.
"We're going to do three new songs and our favorites," Slade said. "We're going to mix it up. We're going to keep the set high energy and challenge ourselves.
"This is a sneak peak of what's to come."
Locals may get an even bigger sneak-peak of The Fray.
Rumors have been swirling that tonight's Fox show with The Juarez Street Fighters is indeed a Fray concert.
The cat's out of the bag. And, the show's sold out.
"Unofficially, we're very excited to plays shows here and Denver," Slade said. "We did this in LA one time after a big show and we wanted to do it in Colorado. We decided to show off some of the new tunes."
After the Colorado shows, The Fray's gearing up for a busy 2011-2012 schedule.
The band's heading back to Nashville to finish the new record and looking at a fall release. The Fray's planning a tour-packed 2012 that will take them all over the world.
"We're going to focus on national and international touring," Slade says. "We're going to play South America and Europe, and even try to get down to Africa.
"Our goal is to play music that we love -- regardless of the audience size. We want to stay true to that."