By Michael-Shawn Dugar
Andy Frasco, the front man for the party blues band Andy Frasco and the U.N., heads Fun Machine Records, his self-created label through which hes releasing the bands first album, Half a Man.
But thats not Andy Franco, really.
Hes a musician whos traveled the world and visited five countries, 40 states, 65 cities and slept on more than 600 couches and floors in seven years of touring. Regardless of where his hectic schedule has taken him, he still manages to pencil in trips to Moscow to rock at Johns Alley Tavern, where his band will be performing Suinday and Monday.
They go crazy, Frasco said of the crowd at Johns Alley via phone interview. Theyre crowd surfing to the bar and chugging Jagermeister. I just try and get people to live in the moment. Frasco, 26, from the San Fernando Valley in Southern California, sings and plays bass, guitar and piano. Saxophonist Ernie Chang and guitarist Shawn Eckles round out his U.N. Band. They traveled the country for years in a Ford E350 van named Goldilocks, until the wheels almost literally fell off at 300,000 miles.
Their new ride has the trio feeling like a group of rappers, an all-black Mercedes Sprinter that Frasco describes as a pimp-mobile that screams for authorities to pull them over. Theyve had no such misfortune, yet.
But thats not Andy Frasco, exactly.
Hes a man who gained a newfound respect for women after eating uncooked, unseasoned snails at a restaurant in Germany, claiming they felt like semen.
But deep down, Frasco is a heartbreak specialist, on both ends of the damage. He admits he has a tendency to fall in love with whoever smiles at him; certainly a recipe for trouble, and song material.
Its too much love, my man, he says.
Its those battles with love as a constantly traveling musician that he expresses on his new album.
Oh man, its a struggle, Frasco said. Women, theyre amazing creatures but theyre also extremely complicated creatures. They need to be loved at all times. When youre on the road and never there, they start thinking that you dont love them, and they start becoming crazy.
Frasco is single now, but not necessarily by choice. Not too long ago, he flew to Italy to propose to a woman. She declined, admitting she didnt love him that much, which wasnt exactly the answer he was looking for. His most recent girlfriend just broke up with him, mainly because of the distance between them. She just didnt like how I was never around, Frasco said. Its really hard being on the road and keeping people happy other than yourself, because youre doing something that, at the moment, is pretty selfish. Youre following your dream and trying to fulfill your soul instead of fulfilling both you guys souls.
If Frasco had his wish, hed be seeking advice on this topic over fried chicken and crawfish (not snails) in Louisiana with music icons Marvin Gaye and Otis Redding. Along with those soul-singing legends, the love-seeking Frasco is inspired by the sounds of Sam Cooke, Professor Longhair, Damien Rice and Van Morrison, which fuel his intense passion for bringing live music back, through good ol fashion freak-outs.
A good ol fashion freak-out is basically getting people wild and living in the moment, he said. Thats one of the reasons I try to preach live music. Live music is one of the only ways to live in the moment. People too much are worried about what their friends are doing on Facebook and not living their lives. Everyones so scared to live their dreams, they just want to see other peoples dreams through a glass phone.
Ironically, it was a group of fans on Facebook that ultimately altered his perspective on his life and his career. His bands 40-foot tour bus (they were in a rock star phase) broke down in the middle of Nebraska. After sending out an alert via Facebook, the band found a group of fans from Wyoming coming to their aid, packing all of them into their Prius and hauling the band and their trailer all the way to Salt Lake City to perform at their next gig.
That opened Frascos eyes.
I realized, how badly do you want this? Are you willing to go and risk your life and do whatever it takes just to make another crowd happy? We did it, and I realized, this is why we do it, he said. All our fans believe in us, I felt like Im doing the right thing.
That proved to me that my fans believe in me as much as I believe in my music, he added. Im not gonna stop.
Now we really know Andy Frasco, hes a heartbroken musician who was rescued by his fans in Nebraska, with somewhat of a distaste for snails, a plane ticket to Italy he wishes he didnt buy, and a new album all about the man hes become.
I still have my flaws, he said. Im not telling you Im perfect now, but Im half a man, thats what this album is all about. Im understanding my fault in life and Im trying to be a better person. Right now Ive accepted being half a man but the goal is to be a whole man. You want to give that to the world, you want to be confident in everything, not just my music. I want to be confident in my relationship, I want to be confident in having a family, I want to be confident in directing this group of people, who listen to me and believe in my work, in the right direction.
So now, who exactly is Andy Frasco?
Thats easy. Hes half a man.
If you go:
WHAT: Andy Frasco and the U.N. band
WHEN: 9:30 p.m. Sunday and Monday
WHERE: Johns Alley Tavern, 114 E. Sixth St., Moscow
Dugar can be contacted at (208) 883-4628 or email@example.com. Follow Dugar on twitter @MikeDelaphante