Interview: Andy Frasco

Andy Frasco is one of the hardest working musicians in the business. He has spent most of the year for over a decade on the road performing for fans with his high energy shows. He is not even slowing down in quarantine as he entertains fans from home with DJ sessions and lip sync videos with many of his musician friends joining in the fun.

Andy released his newest LP today Keep On Keeping OnThe album has some serious tones as Andy openly discusses mental health issues. He has been open about his struggles with addiction and depression and the toll that the road has taken on him.  “We’re going through a mental health crisis right now,” says Andy Frasco. “Loneliness, depression, suicide, it’s all on the rise. When you’re struggling in the moment, it can feel like you’re the only one, but that’s just not the truth. I wanted to make a record to remind you that you’re not alone.” After hitting a breaking point last year, Andy started writing poetry and those poems have been transformed into anthems. This record is the perfect sound to provide some uplifting songs while we are all staying at home. With this pop funk collection, you can definitely tell that Frasco loves the music and we are so happy he is continuing to find his happiness.

I first met Andy years ago on The Rock Boat and was happy to catch up with him at home in Denver last week to discuss the new album, mental health and his podcast for our interview.

I want to talk about the new album, Keep On Keeping On, it is definitely fitting for the current times. Obviously, you didn’t plan on this pandemic situation happening when you were recording but one of the things you talk about is mental health and your struggles. How are you staying healthy and do you have advice for people during this “stay at home” time?

I am not forcing anything right now. We are in a position right now where it is ok to think about ourselves. Granted, I am in a situation where I don’t have a nine to five. I lost all my gigs until August. I think it’s important to focus on living for today and not tomorrow, not thinking about if you are going to lose your job or not thinking about what happened yesterday. It’s going to keep your mentality rockin’.

One of the singles you put out was “None of Those Things.” I love that song and it is more relevant now than ever because we are seeing none of the stuff you have really matters.

It is funny like we are still surviving and not spending any money. 

Your fancy car doesn’t matter right now.

Yeah it is parked in the garage. You can’t use it. That is the beauty of this quarantine. You can see the downside with the people dying and it is horrible. But the upside, we are having a change of mind status and we don’t need all these things to live. All we need is companionship, love, and staying present.

You have been staying busy. I have been keeping up with your videos online which started with you lip syncing classic songs from your “Naked in the Kitchen” sessions to enlisting all your friends to sing Whitney Houston and Pointer Sisters songs. How did you come up with this idea?

I was stoned at 2 AM and I started texting all my friends to lip sync so we Zoomed a lip sync party. It was just so fun to watch all my friends just scream Shania Twain. I said I am going to do that. We are going to make a video with all of us in it. I started making it and the response is great and I have kept going with it.

I was just talking to Maggie Rose the other day in another interview and she said she had to do her Andy Frasco video after she was finished talking to me.

Yes, I am posting that tonight. We are doing “Man! I Feel Like a Woman.”

How did you organize all the video? Did you just text your friends?

It is the first time all my musician friends aren’t doing anything and we can talk for 40 minutes and get to know each other.

I feel like this year started really shitty when Kobe passed away and that was the beginning of a lot of really bad stuff. I know you are a big Kobe fan, you wear the Lakers jersey every time I see you. You were really upset when you did the podcast tribute to him. Have you had time to reflect and what is the biggest thing Kobe imparted upon you?

I think work ethic. Kobe never gave up. He was the first one in the gym and the last person in the gym. He taught me to never give up. I am proud that I am working as much as I work and doing 250 shows a year for 13+ years and making all these videos, just staying busy. I know Kobe would want that. 

I have been digging deeper into your podcast. The thing that impresses me the most about the interviews is that you are talking to people musician to musician. Do you ever get nervous for it? How do you prep for it? Do you just talk to them like they are your friends?

I talk to them as if I am just a peer. We tour. I am doing the same thing they are doing. Maybe they are doing it on a bigger level, maybe they are doing it on a smaller level. At the end of the day, we are just trying to make music our living and it is hard. I want the listener to see the other side of music when the lights are off and the artists have to deal with themselves again.

I feel like you ask the tough questions I would wonder but never ask. I was impressed with that as you get personal and they are always open and honest and you make them feel comfortable.

I appreciate that. Howard Stern is an idol.

He is the best. I dread the day he’s not going to be in the car with me driving. Howard can make someone seem more human than they are with their persona. 

A lot of times you talk about being sad and struggles on the road. What does it mean to be happy to you?

I think being happy is being present. I keep on saying that but I realize it more and more. With this quarantine you could go real down the deep end if you don’t stay present. It is hard to stay happy thinking about our jobs and our emotions and stuff. It really is hard. Just staying present, trying to see what makes you happy right now, not what is going to make you happy tomorrow and live by those laws.

When I saw you perform, you always seem energetic and happy on stage. It shocked me when I heard you talk about the depression and the flip side to it because I feel like with your music you are the most joyful person.

That is the problem I have with social media too. Everyone just shows the one side of people, like the happiness side. We don’t show the darkness at all. It gives the illusion that everyone is happy right now when they are not.

Part of the proceeds from your merchandise is going to help Backline. I love that charity. Can you tell us about that charity and why you chose to support it?

Backline was created because Neil Casal and Jeff Austin passed away. I believe in this organization. We don’t know who is sad and who’s not and who is going through shit because we have to be turned on all the time. Like you said, you have always seen me as happy because we are always turning it on. It is really important to give the resources to musicians to get therapy and get focused on themselves. Maybe it is time to start helping all the musicians and crews. 

I think it is coming to light right now more than ever that there is this huge group of people that make the music and shows happen behind the scenes. They are gig workers who don’t have health insurance and can’t just go to the therapist when things get rough. Providing resources for them is very important.

I agree 100%.

Every Thursday you are doing a live stream. I call it a mix of quirky songs and DJ set.

Yeah! Have you watched it yet?

I have. I actually really enjoy the DJ part of it. I think you are playing really fun songs. I love you are playing the most upbeat tracks.

I am trying to pump them up. I am trying a little wedding DJ vibe, not the hip shit, not I heard this from a Vinyl in 1971 track. I don’t want to dance to that. It didn’t even make the record.

Please keep playing the upbeat tunes.

I was worried because, last night I DJed for an hour and a half. I was like WTF Frasco, you need to calm down.

Have you found any quirky or hidden gem locations on tour you have stopped into?

I have a few cities that I love and keep thinking about. One is in Europe, Utrecht, Netherlands next to Amsterdam. It is local Amsterdam. It is where tourists go but keep the Amsterdam vibe. I also love Savannah, Georgia. I love Bend, Oregon. That is a fun town.

I met you guys for the first time on The Rock Boat. Have you done other cruises over the year?

Yes, Jam Cruise. It is so fun to be in that setting with other bands and fans.

Do you have a message for fans?

Keep on Keeping On, that is so cheesy. I think stay focused on today. Don’t focus on tomorrow. Who knows when we are going to be out of this? If we can just improve the people we are today then we are doing our part to be better people.

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