Isaac Edward Slade was born in Denver, Colorado; the 26th May of 1981.
His parents were missionaries, so that he lived for a while in Guatemala. He is
Christian. He has got two brothers: Caleb and Micah.
He wanted to be a male ballerina when he was little. He started singing
at the age of eight, when his mother somehow wrestled with him to sing in a
mall his church was doing an event. They went to a friend’s house and he
recorded her playing piano in his cassette. Coming back home in his mother’s car,
he was singing along, and he discovered his voice. He tried to sing louder, but
it did not sound good, so he realized that it was better less loud. He wondered
if people could live of this.
He started playing piano at the age of eleven, after temporally losing
his voice. He attended to “Christian Faith Academy” in Denver. There, he was in
the choir (where he was sitting behind Joe King).
When he was a teenager, his parents did not allow him to listen to music
which was not “Christian music”, maybe jazz, but anything else, and, of course,
as a teenager he wanted to listen to “pop music”.
Also, he took first auxiliary classes as a teenager. Thankfully, he
adds, “I’ve never had to do anything of all that”. But, he says that, when his
little brother was 9, he was at the edge of choking, and the ambulance wasn’t
coming soon enough. Thankfully, his mother saved him.
At the high school he was the usual nerd. He wrote his first song when
he was sixteen years old, and started playing the guitar at high school. He
played in a talent show with one friend called Ben Wysocki once.He formed a band called Ember with him and Dave
Welsh, but they dissolved fast, because, said Isaac: “We sucked”.
Isaac also was bullied when he was young too. Even there is a poem Isaac wrote when he was a kid that talks about that: "It's not easy being skinny. The bully makes me his goal, when I arise to my full size, he pulls my underpants to the top of the flag pole".
He studied music and production in the University of Colorado in Denver.
For not to hurt his vocal chords: he was in an association that was going to
give him a lot of money if he did not smoke before he turned twenty years old.
But in his brother's graduation party, he gave up and smoked once.
At the beginning of his songwriting, he used to write songs with religious
messages, but his friends did not understand them, therefore, he changed his
method, and he wrote a song about his ex-girlfriend. His father got him a work
in a Starbucks, there in Denver. His first kiss was at the age of twenty one.
In 2002, he met Joe King in a guitar shop in Denver, and, after talking,
they decided to try to write music together. They formed a band with Zach
Johnson, as the drummer; Caleb Slade (his brother), as the bass assistant; Joe
King, as a singer and guitarist; and Isaac, as a singer and pianist. The first
one decided to leave the band because he was going to go to a university in New
York, and the second one was fired. This was the reason that Isaac and Caleb’s
relationship has had troubles.
Dave Welsh and Ben Wysocki joined in the band. They named the band “The
Fray”, before that, at Caleb’s graduation party, they put out a fishbowl and
ask to people there to write names of bands (other on that they liked was
“Street Fighters”). They played at small locals, but at the beginning, it
Joe and Isaac were writing songs trying to explain something specific.
Isaac listened to, about one hundred songs, and he realized that in most of
them, he didn’t care what the guy or the girl meant to say, he just applied his
life to the song. For this reason, they changed the songwriting.
They improved, and at 2003, they released two EPs: Movement and Reason.
They could make the radio stations play their songs, and in 2004, they signed a
contract with Epic Records (Sony).
In 2005, the most listened song in Denver was “Over My Head (Cable
Car)”, the song was about Isaac’s relationship with his brother Caleb (his
nickname is Cable Car).
Isaac decided to play a piano song about his ex-girlfriend (Hundred) to
a girl he liked called Anna, and, he add: “it wasn’t the smartest thing to do”,
because she turned back and left.
The most successful song by the band up today, “How to Save a Life”, is
about a story related to him. A friend of him is the head teacher of a camp of
troubled teens in Denver called “Shelterwood”, and he spend there a week as a
mentor. There, he was paired with a 17 years old kid, and he told Isaac his
story, he was an addicted in recovery.
That’s what he said: “And there I was, a protected urbanite, and he was
just 17 years old and was in all that stuff, and people came trying to reach
him, to save him; but against him, as an enemy”. Also he recalls: “How to save
a Life was hard, because his story made me think about all the relationships that
I’ve lost because of the decisions I’ve made, and about how I’d like people
talk to me if I’m doing something wrong”. Also, about the question that an
interviewer asked him: “Do you know how to save a life?”, he answered: “I know
people who have tried to commit suicide, forget about life ... We wrote the
song, because I didn’t know how to reach those people, about the pressure of
don’t know what to say them, and don’t know how much to press someone until
this person stops taking your phone calls.”
The song becomes something really personal; even he has said that it is
probably one of the most personally relevant songs he has ever written. Even,
Joe King told in a documentary of the album, when they were recording the song
on the studio, there was a moment when Isaac started crying while he was
singing the song, either way, they didn ot stop and when they finished. Then, Joe
went to the place Isaac was asking him: “What’s wrong?”. The guy survived,
according to an interview from 2007.
His girlfriend Anna (finally she was not so angry about the song stuff)
lived for a while in Australia while he was in Denver, and this was the
inspiration for songs like: “Look after you” and “She is”. About his
songwriting, he said that this was the idea he uses: “You’ve got three minutes
to tell the world something. Are you going to talk about you being wasted in
your front yard because you couldn’t park your car, or are you going to say
something that could actually help someone?”
The record “How to save a Life” has been successful all over the world,
especially after the apparition of the song which gives the name of the record
in the TV series “Grey’s Anatomy”.
All the members of the band are Christians, but they do not want to be
considered as a “Christian Band”, but, even after so, the record (and also the
second one) has become popular into the Christian market.
He got married the 16th of April of 2006 with Anna Slade, in
Seattle (where she comes from).
He wrote the song called “Happiness” to his grandfather’s wedding.
“You found me” is the next song The Fray released. It was released in
2008, but the songwriting started about more than one year before. It is a song
written by Isaac and Joe, but it has more Isaac’s things, it could’ve said.
Isaac wrote on their official page about it: “You found me is a tough song for
me. It’s about the disappointment, the heartache; the let down that comes with
life. It’s about the feelings and the hope I still have, buried deep inside in my
chest”. Also he has talked about it in lots of interviews; he said that there
was a moment, when they were on the road, that it was like phone call after
phone call, tragedy after tragedy, of people close to him. He said:
“Undeserving, good people”. His songwriting of this song has got a progress: at
the first time, it was like: “I’m angry for me, my family and friends”; but at
the end, it was like: “I’m angry but I still believe”. He said that if he dies
or something, it is what he’d said to God.
In the other hand, it isn’t the only song written about it. “Enough for
now”, song which he wrote after the death of his grandfather, is a song about
his mother’s story. It’s about a man that wanted a son, for take his surname,
but he had a daughter, and he never really loved her. It has got a comforting
message to her; in a concert, talking about songwriting, he said: “We’re kind
of falling apart… my life’s falling apart”.
Isaac also has talked about “Where the story ends”, song that is about
when he and Anna moved together, and they felt estrange. He says: “I was
thinking: if it doesn’t work, I’m ruining this girl’s life”.
In 2008 he received a mansion in England of 16.000.000$. In 2009, after
the release of their second album “The Fray”, Slade said that he had some sort
of breakout. He said that he spent the first 28 years of his life trying to
make everybody like him and make them happy. He said that he realized that it
did not work, and he finally gave up, but he said that in this process of giving
up, there is a lot of heartache. He confessed that his marriage was in a
difficult moment in 2009 and he asked for help to Bruce Springsteen.
In 2011, he was in the version of “We are the world” for Haiti. The same
year, he went to a trip in Rwanda with a friend, and that trip was the
inspiration for the song “Heartbeat”.
One morning, at about 4am, his brother Micah, who is about twenty years
old now, called him saying that he was having a hard time sleeping, that he
felt helpless. Isaac talked to him for a while, but he really didn’t know what
to say him. The next morning, while he was having breakfast, he caught his
guitar and started writing a song. He said that he wasn’t like writing, because
it was like the words were just coming. He said: “It never comes that easy, it
just has happened maybe with “Happiness”. He went to the studio, even without
meaning to have that song on the record, he wanted to record it for his
brother. They recorded it, and finally it was on the album. But they put the
original one, without changing the lyrics. Even Joe said: “Don’t change it, it’s
Slade admitted that something that happens a lot is that: he moves with
the crowd, and he cries.
Also he has talked about the depth of the songs. One thing that is really
true is that he writes very personal songs, he admits. And he said that, he
is not able to do like other artist do, he cannot put out a persona on the stage
and hide inside. He thinks about the past that is been a scary thing for him. He
says that it feels like he gets up on the stage and takes his clothes off. He
feels embarrassed. He feels naked. He says that is kind of showing his scars.
Before his wife (Anna Slade), he’s had four girlfriends, and he says
that those relationships had good things and bad things, but they made him have
the marriage he has got today.
He writes with Joe King, and about it, he has said that, as friends, they
have lived everything you can live as friends; and he knows that he can trust
him, that he is not doing that to make money and that stuff. He says: “I have to
write from a deep, meaningful, trusting relationship”. And he said in an
interview that, something that hasn’t changed over the years is that they still
make bad songs. And they try to write songs without feeling the pressure, like
in the beginning.
When he is driving, he does not use to sing along with his own songs,
also, he did not know people do that.
Also, he loves his fans. He says: “They are who brought us here, and who
keep us here”, and also “We do have a very thoughtful, sensitive crowd”.
About the fans reaction, he has said: “We didn’t mean to write songs to
connect with Sweden; we try to connect with other human people. We try to
communicate what is to be alive and get up one day and realize that you aren’t
as happy as you want to be, and that’s OK. We are the aftermath of a
In another interview, he said: “When this girl and told me that our
music made her not to commit suicide, I felt paychecked”
There is something that actually in their music is visible. He wants
people to connect with the stories he’s telling. He just can’t connect with
songs without a melody, or with melody but without a story, or a vague story;
and that stuff.
He loves playing live, is the part he enjoys the most. He admits: “We
can connect, people to people”.
In their documentary: The Fair Fight, he added: “When this band started,
I guessed that it wasn’t easy, but it costs more: relationally, physically,
personally than nobody ever told me. But, there are people by far more famous
than us, but they are alone in this. It’s worth it. I’d do it again in a
And, in the end,
another thing said by Isaac in an interview: “What I despise is when someone is
on the stage just for say “I’m hot, buy my record, for example, there are
artists that talk about something that means to people” Then the interviewer
asked him what did he mean to say with How To Save A Life and he answered: “For
example, if I tell you: don’t do this because it’s wrong; you don’t care about
me, you don’t know me. But if I’m your friend, your family, and I tell you the
same; you should trust me, because these are the people you are going to hold
on to the rest of your life”.