“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.”
It makes sense, then, that Frasco’s rousing new LP, ‘Keep On Keepin’ On,’ lands somewhere between an emotionally raw therapy session and a rowdy house party. Produced in part by Widespread Panic’s Dave Schools and in part by former Awolnation keyboardist Kenny Carkeet, the collection finds Frasco digging deeper than he’s ever dug before, fusing ecstatic rock and soul with infectious pop and funk as he grapples with the kind of demons he’s spent the better part of his adult life running from. The songs here are blunt in their honesty and unsparing in their self-examination, but they remain, at their core, works of great hope and promise. They’re the work of a man who’s been through the darkest part of the night and, now that dawn is finally breaking, is ready to share his story.
“Making this record helped me accept that I needed therapy in my life,” Frasco explains. “I always used to think I was too proud or too strong to have a therapist, but I realized that was all bullshit. I’m not always the fun, wild guy people see onstage, and it felt like time to talk about who I really am.”
Born and raised in California, Frasco’s first exposure to the music industry came not onstage, but rather in an office. As a young teenager, he worked with legendary indie label Drive-Thru Records and helped book bands like Hellogoodbye, and by the time he turned 18, he’d already moved to New York City for a gig with Atlantic Records. When the job fell through, though, Frasco made a leap of faith and decided to launch his own career as an artist, taking everything he’d learned working with other bands and applying it to himself.
“I figured I could teach myself an instrument, book my own tours, and try to write some songs that’d help make the world go round,” he says. “I bought a van with my bar mitzvah money, called about 3,000 venues, and managed to book myself 200 shows in that first year alone.”
Initially, Frasco hired local pickup musicians off of Craigslist to back him for gigs, but soon he put together a steady(ish) lineup, and Andy Frasco & The U.N. began taking the world by storm. Since its inception, the group would release a series of acclaimed records, share bills with the likes of Leon Russell, Galactic, Gary Clark, Jr., The Revivalists, and Marcus King among others, and slay festival stages everywhere from Mountain Jam in the U.S. to Rock am Ring in Germany and COTAI Jazz & Blues in China (this summer, Frasco will appear at both Bonnaroo and FloydFest). NME hailed the constantly evolving group as “party-starting touring stalwarts,” while Relix praised their “raucous energy,” and Clash lauded their live show as a “nightly high-octane experience that doubles as a celebration of life and music…energized by a powerfully entertaining multi-cultural soundtrack that will shake the foundations of all nearby structures.”