Dia Frampton warms up 'Voice'

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If You Go

What: The Voice Tour with Dia Frampton.

When: 7:30 p.m. Aug. 1.

Where: Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, 1037 S.W. Broadway, Portland

Cost: $42 to $74.

Information: 800-273-1530 or portland5.com.

When Dia Frampton auditioned for "The Voice," it was hardly the big deal the show is now.

Over the past couple of years, "The Voice" appears to have supplanted "American Idol" as the most popular televised singing competition going. The show is even following the lead of its competitor's American Idol Live tour by this summer launching the first The Voice Live tour.

Frampton is one of the featured performers on the tour. She'll be joined on the tour by Tessanne Chin (season 5 winner), Jacquie Lee (season 5 runner-up) and Will Champlin (third place, season 5). Three finalists from the recently completed sixth season — winner Josh Kaufman and runner-ups Christina Grimmie, and Jake Worthington — as well as contestant Kristen Merlin — are also on board for the tour, which will visit 31 cities.

Obviously, "The Voice" has come quite a ways since that first season. But Frampton wasn't sure what she was getting herself into when her manager suggested she try out for the inaugural season of "The Voice."

"Since it was the first season, we just didn't have anything to put it up against," Frampton said. "I was like 'The Voice? What do you mean? Who's coaching what?' And he was just like, 'There are four coaches.' I'm like, 'Who are they and what do they mean?' (And he said) 'Like they haven't picked them yet. The show is being put together.'

"I could have been flying to L.A. to try out for, I don't know, a karaoke party," she said. "That was as much idea as I had about anything."

Frampton, though, didn't have much to lose at that point. What once looked like a promising career co-fronting the rocking pop group Meg & Dia with her sister, Meg, had gone off track.

The band had built a nice buzz with its second album, "Something Real" (2005) and had been signed by major label Sire/Warner Bros. Records. The group went into recording its debut for the label feeling a commercial breakthrough could be at hand.

Instead, "Here, Here and Here" fell off of the radar soon after it was released, and in 2010 Meg & Dia was dropped by Warner Bros.

The group hung together and pressed forward, releasing an EP, "It's Always Stormy in Tillamook," in November 2010 and a full-length album, "Cocoon," in April 2011. But the group's future was cloudy at best.

"Meg & Dia, we were together. We were trying to do things, but really we were kind of struggling through everything. We were broke," Frampton said.

So Dia Frampton took a flyer on "The Voice" and saw it pay off. She finished second to Javier Colon in that inaugural season, and was introduced to a host of new fans who undoubtedly were unaware of her Meg & Dia history.

Even better, her showing on "The Voice" earned her a second shot at major label stardom when Universal Records signed her to a solo deal.

That 2011 album, "Red," had all the hallmarks of an attempt by a major label to break an artist with a big hit single. Frampton was paired up with an arsenal of hit-making songwriter/producers and the album was cranked out in time to be released in December 2011 — less than six months after Frampton finished her run on "The Voice."

Looking back, Frampton sees that the urgency to get "Red" released did her no favors.

"It was so rushed," Frampton said of "Red." "For the 10 songs that are on the album, there are like 15 producers, and it was just so, a little bit scatter brained.

"I didn't have time to really work on it ("Red") or construct it as much as I would have loved to," she said.

Frampton watched the album tank upon its release and her time on Universal come to an end when she was dropped by the label.

So as Frampton heads out on "The Voice" tour this summer, she is once again pushing the reset button on her career.

Almost as soon as she finished recording "Red," she put her nose back on the grindstone and continued writing songs. As time went on, Frampton realized she didn't want to be concerned with trying to write hit singles or working with high-powered hit-making producers on her next project.

Instead she teamed up with a producer she already knew, Joseph Trapanese, who up to then had worked strictly on movie soundtracks.

With that background, Trapanese wasn't oriented toward trying to create concise, radio-ready pop music. He encouraged Frampton, to let the songs go in whatever directions seemed natural.

They pursued an organic sound for the songs, bringing in a string section, horns and percussionists to play on various tracks. Many of songs clock in at five minutes or more — which in itself is major difference from Frampton's earlier work.

The music prompted Frampton to release the EP under the "Archis" name — not as a Dia Frampton solo record.

"Because it ended up being such a different project and so different from my last album the producer and I decided hey, let's just make it its own thing," she said. "So it's Archis now."