Andy Frasco has always been a go-getter. Before his 18th birthday, he had already faked his age to work at multiple recording studios in Los Angeles. After realizing he was meant to be on the other side of the glass, Frasco quickly taught himself how to sing and play piano, bought a van, and hit the road - only to never look back.
Fast forward to 2019, where Andy Frasco & the U.N. are rocking 250 shows a year across multiple countries. His rotating band welcomes ultra-talented musicians to join the "circus" to laugh and dance with crowds all over the world. Andy's infectious music ranges from soul/gospel to blues and boogie, and his live performances constantly draw raves from dive bars to festivals.
His genuineness - yes, that's a word - and love for music is clear as day. While packing the tour schedule to the brim, he simultaneously runs Andy Frasco’s World Saving Podcast. Not only does the show give fans an authentic peek into the life of a musician, but it also provides fellow artists an outlet to share ideas, struggles, and friendships.
Fresh off the band's release of their third studio album, Change of Pace, I was able to catch up with Andy to talk about the new project, stories from the road, and what drives him to be...well, a go-getter.
Congratulations on the new album my brother! The album is such a feel-good tribute to your musical experiences thus far. What all went into the production of Change of Pace, and how do the songs reflect that title and theme?
I’m glad you dig it! I really wanted to make a soul record with lyrics that hit home to what I’m thinking about at this point of my life. I was partying too hard, going on bender after bender...until one day I had a huge anxiety attack during a one-night stand. From that day on, I quit all the hard drugs and tried to focus back on the thing that made me love the road in the first place - my music. This is why I called the album "Change of Pace". We’re all fighting battles in our head, and I wanted to make a record that made people feel they weren’t alone with mental health.
Speaking of home - can you tell us a little about growing up on the west coast and how you discovered your love for music? Was the switch from music promotion to composition always the plan?
Man...I fell in love with the music industry when I was a 12 year-old DJ at bar mitzvahs and faking my age to work at Drive Thru and Capitol Records. I always wanted to be a musician, but I never had the patience to sit back and do it. Then one day - when I was 19 - I saw a concert by Damian Rice, and it changed my life. I bought a van, cold called 2,000 venues, and told myself I’m not coming back until I inspire people like Damian Rice inspired me in that moment. Now 13 years later I’m still doing it. I wouldn’t want it any other way.
I recently suggested your show at the Barrelhouse in Savannah to my bud living down there – his glowing review involved you doing the Hora and getting lifted in a chair to "Hava Nageela". As someone with some Jewish blood myself, this was quite the live show recap.
[Laughs] I love that. I love doing all those Jewish dances in my show - they are all so fun.
Do you maintain your Jewish roots?
I would say nowadays I’m more like....Jew-ishhhh - but I still keep the faith. My mom would give me the worst guilt trips I didn’t [laughs].
How does the theme of diversity flow through your work, from your music style to the rotating band members to even the name “& the U.N.”?
This band is kind of like a revolving door... we add people from all around the world to come join this circus for a couple weeks or a year. I love traveling with people from around the world. It makes you feel less alone in your thoughts because no matter where or how you grew up, we all still deal with the same pain - just in different themes.
I’ve had the same core guys for about close to ten years now. I’m a pretty A.D.D. person in general. I love all these different cultures' dance songs. By the end of my career, I would love to write a song in every genre to show that I’m not just a one trick pony.
How in the world do you find time to write and record new music while seemingly always on tour?
Man, it’s fucking tough. You have to force yourself to sit down in your hotel room and write how you feel. We play 250+ shows a year, so I try to write music on my time off. But if I don’t have time off we will try to write a song during set break or in the van when we do those 20 hour drives across the country.
You’ve spent a good bit of time touring overseas (including the 2016 German Tucher Blues and Jazz Festival that led to the live album/DVD Songs from the Road). How did you develop this international fanbase?
I’ve been hustling in Europe now for about eight years. I used to use Google Translate to write pitches to promoters outside of America when I didn’t have an agent. My European fans are so appreciative. They want me to play the soft songs too. They just appreciate every part of my songwriting and not just my party songs. I am forever grateful for that, and I thought doing our first live record in Germany was the right thing to do. It’s been so nice to see them singing along.
As if you have too much time on your hands on top of everything else, you recently started Andy Frasco’s World Saving Podcast last year. The show is as refreshingly authentic as it is entertaining. What led to you starting this podcast? How have you chosen your guests (Marcus King, Dave Schools, Keller Williams, and Rayland Baxter, among others), and who are some folks you’d love to have on the show?
I’m glad you dig the podcast! It has been so fun to get to know all these musicians and hear them open up about their lives to me. I started this podcast to show our listeners what musicians go through on a day-to day basis off the stage. We go through shitty breakups and possibly addiction. We are no different then our fan base.
I try to find artists who want to talk vulnerably on a safe platform like my show, because I’m dealing with the same things they are. It’s nice to see them open up so that we can relate and become closer friends than we ever were. We've gotta have each other’s backs in this - the road is too hard sometimes not to.
I think it would be great to get athletes, comedians, and big company CEOs to talk about how they accomplished their dreams and how they keep feeding their soul - even if they might already have everything.
For those of us that are planning to see a live show for the first time in the near future – what are we in store for?
Organized chaos while living in the moment through dancing and laughing - all wrapped in a heartfelt theme!
I can't wait! Thank you so much for taking the time and effort. I look forward to continuing to follow your success, and I’ll see you with The Revivalists at The Filmore in New Orleans in a few months. Beers on me then.
Dude! Let’s grab a drink for Jazz Fest!
If you haven't already started your day off with Change of Pace, the brand new album is available wherever you get your music fix.