Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Not suffering silently

Andy Frasco puts his heartbreak into music

Express Staff Writer

Andy Frascoís heartache is the listenerís luck. Courtesy photo

His first soul mate was a piano. The second shut him down after he proposed. So Andy Frasco went back to the former and wrote a song about the latter.

"Love, You're Just Too Expensive" is his sweet revenge. And while the story behind the tattered love songs compiled on the album currently touring could be depressing, his mastery of the blues and jazz take you on the journey in a bouncy, hurts-so-good way.

The 23-year-old musician from Southern California counts Tom Waits, Sam Cooke, Professor Longhair, Van Morrison and Damien Rice as his influences. He's jammed with Leon Russell, Jakob Dylan, John Mayer.

Andy Frasco and the U.N. will play at Whiskey Jacques' in Ketchum on Friday, Dec. 30, at 9 p.m. Find out more about him or listen to his music at He answered a few questions from his van floor late last week.

Q) Where are you right now?

A) Well ... kind of embarrassing, but I'm sitting in my van somewhere in California, eating Greek food waiting for my band to wake up and let me into the house they are sleeping in because the van sounded much nicer then a dirty floor space.

Q) If you haven't done so in a while, could you take a look at your 2008 interview and tell me what would you tell your 19-year-old self about dreams and risks today?

A) Where can I find that?

Q) On your web page, under "Media."

Mission accomplished, he gave this answer:

A) How badly do you want it? If you're willing to sleep on 600 couches and live on peanut butter sandwiches and Taco Bell for years just so you have enough gas money to entertain another crowd, then you'll have an amazing time. I know I sure did.

Q) How has the game changed for you since you started as a music producer? Are we over the technology hype-and-hump part and getting back to the musicians?

A) For an independent band it's way easier now to book and market shows around the country with Facebook, etc. Even when we started four years ago, it was so tough to find the right venues with built-in crowds to play. You would have to come to the town a couple times and play for nobody at a bar two miles outside of the downtown area just to find out where to really play in the city for the next tour. With the Internet and social networks now in place, you can really see where people are going out to see new music. You know what you're getting yourself into now when you come into a new town.

Also, the Internet to me is kind of like a double-edged sword. It's wonderful how easy you can receive and send information to each other, but because of that, now there's too much information. This makes it tougher for new talented musicians to come up virally because the listener is cutting through the fat to get to it.

Q) Did you run away from home to pursue music or were your parents supportive?

A) My parents have always been super-supportive, even when I left school to pursue this thing. They always told me to follow my dreams and make my soul happy because when it comes down to it, you never want to regret anything. This support is what made me give up everything to buy a van and start playing music.

Q) You tell the story of an "ah-ha!" moment at a Damien Rice concert, but surely you had an inclination before then, right? Or at least, a genetic predisposition?

A) Not really, musically. Business was always in my head. I always thought when I was I younger I was going to run a label and manage a couple of bands when I was 24—not sleep in a van outside the bartender's house. I started a booking agency, Lifeline Promotion, when I was 14 and faked my age so I could work at labels like Capitol Records and Drive Thru Records until I was 18. That Damien Rice concert was the first time I experienced that epiphany toward playing music, so I started playing the piano right after that.

Q) What's the new album expressing for you? Do you have a pricey mate?

A) I met a girl in Oklahoma that I was absolutely in love with. After two years of trying to love on the road, she moved to Italy to start a new job. I had this crazy feeling that she was going to find some Italian stallion to fall in love with and I would be left high and dry, so I flew to Italy to propose to her. She waited for me to come there to say that she doesn't love me that much. She would have saved me a couple bucks if she would have just told me on the phone.

Q) Where's Christmas?

A) Hanging out with the fam in Los Angeles. I was on the road for 10 months straight this year. It'll be nice to see my mom.

Q) Do you have any New Year rituals?

A) I'm working on being a better friend and not being so selfish. It's all about giving as much as you're taking.

Q) Is there one thing you want to nail in each performance that keeps you moving forward? Is there a moment?

A) I'm here to build an experience. If I can get people out of their heads or their lives for a couple hours so we can all laugh, dance and forget about life for a little bit, then I've done my job. I'm a lucky man.

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