Interviews

From Party Boy to Community Maker: Andy Frasco Seeks Authenticity

Frasco hosts a podcast, talk show and internet dance parties in addition to his music.
Frasco hosts a podcast, talk show and internet dance parties in addition to his music. Nikki A. Rae Photography
Andy Frasco bought a home in Denver in February 2020, and a month later, the pandemic forced him to stay inside it. The musician, who was used to playing around 250 shows a year, now could play none, and he found himself facing depression brought on by the isolation.

Still, he continued to work on his music, releasing an EP titled Keep On Keepin' On in April 2020, and forged ahead with his World Saving Podcast, which he started in 2018. He also started two new projects: Andy Frasco's World Saving Shitshow, a YouTube talk-show series, and "I Wanna Dance With Somebody" dance parties, which he livestreamed on various social media platforms during the pandemic.

Now he and his band, Andy Frasco and the U.N., are on a tour that will end on New Year's Eve in Florida. Afterward, he'll have a three-month break that he says he's surprisingly looking forward to. He plans to learn to cook, and has decided that it's time to begin supporting Denver basketball.

"I'm a Lakers diehard, but I did get a bunch of tickets to the Nuggets games this year, so I will be rooting," he says. "I'm adapting to Denver, that this is my home. I can't just be an asshole and root for the Lakers all the time."

After being away from the road for so long, he's also found new meaning in touring.

"I'm starting to fall in love again with music. I was burnt out at the start of quarantine. I was doing shows every day, and I wasn't appreciating that I was on the road anymore. It was really hard," Frasco admits. "Now that I took that year and a half off...I've been appreciating all the shows I've been doing. I found out I still love art, writing songs and being on stage — and I'm grateful for that."

Months ago, Frasco had an alarming revelation: He was going on tour but had no new material to perform. "I panicked and...I wrote a song a day for 25 days and forced myself to get back in that mode," he says.

Frasco worked in three two-hour sessions per day, usually cranking out a rough draft one day and coming back to polish it the next. Some sessions took place with his bandmembers, others with musicians from Nashville; four of the songs were written with Leftover Salmon frontman Vince Herman. Frasco selected eleven songs from those sessions for his new album, Wash, Rinse, Repeat, which he hopes to release in March 2022.

The pandemic, fast-paced writing sessions and his side projects have led to more honesty in his lyrics, Frasco says. "I think doing these podcasts — and when I'm high on mushrooms doing these dance parties and I'm talking honestly to the screen — it's also made me more honest with my songwriting," he says.

For much of his career, his music reflected what the public saw him as: the party boy. "They thought I was a raging alcoholic. I'm not a raging alcoholic. I might be a little bit of an alcoholic," he confesses.
click to enlarge Andy Frasco & the U.N. performed at Red Rocks in 2021. - NIKKI A. RAE PHOTOGRAPHY
Andy Frasco & the U.N. performed at Red Rocks in 2021.
Nikki A. Rae Photography

Frasco offered a taste of his new album on Wednesday, December 8, releasing the single "Spill the Beans." The honesty that he's been striving for is evident in the lyrics, which profess his love for drugs and alcohol while shifting at the chorus to a message about being a friend under any circumstance.

The forthcoming record and season four of his podcast, which kicked off Tuesday, December 7, will focus on community in the wake of the coronavirus, Frasco says. His podcast will also include more Denver natives discussing the struggles of independent art in a pandemic, and he has plans to open a studio space in the city for his YouTube show.

Frasco was not always so interested in the concept of community, which he attributes to growing up in Los Angeles, a city where he says "people fucking hate each other, are jealous of each other."

"I was always a lone wolf. I left L.A. when I was eighteen, and I lived in a van for fifteen years and played 250 shows a year and lived in bars and ran away from the idea of community because I was scared of it," he admits.

His new commitment to community was reflected in season three of his World Saving Podcast, which centered around mental health, a struggle for Frasco during self-isolation. The pandemic caused some to shy away from community, and he felt that it was the time to bring people together, even if it was virtually.

"God, if I feel lonely and I'm 'Mr. Happy,' think about people with severe loneliness and depression and anxiety," he recalls telling himself ahead of the season. "That's the reason I started doing all the dance parties and podcasts on a regular basis, and not just when I could get an interview. I wanted to build a community again."

His "I Wanna Dance With Somebody" livestreams invited fans from around the internet to join him, DJ Sleepy and his friends while they partied and danced at his Denver home. "I am a musician," Frasco says, "but I also think of myself as a glue for the community. I want people to come together. I want people to feel like they're not alone."
click to enlarge Frasco became a Denver resident weeks before the pandemic shut the city down. - NIKKI A. RAE PHOTOGRAPHY
Frasco became a Denver resident weeks before the pandemic shut the city down.
Nikki A. Rae Photography

His message apparently clicked, as he's received an outpouring of support from his fans. With an array of projects now all carrying the same theme of community, it's trickier to label his occupation. Is he a DJ? A talk-show host? A podcaster? A musician? Frasco likes it that way.

"Art doesn't need to be put in categories," he says. "You don't need to be just a songwriter, or a podcaster or an athlete. All of that is art. We don't need to put ourselves in genres. I can't stand when we put artists in boxes. That devalues the art in itself. The great art is when you develop and explore. My goal is to not put art in a box and let however you want to express art be that for that moment. You never know: Maybe tomorrow I want to be a painter or you want to be a radio DJ. We can't be afraid to explore new avenues for the sake of art."

As his day begins and he starts on his third cup of coffee ahead of an evening show at Washington, D.C.'s Union Stage, he knows he's on the right track.

"I'm 33, I've been doing this for fifteen years, and I'm still in a cracked-in motel," he concludes. "If the hotel ain't changing, at least my heart's gotta be changing."
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