None of Those Things
Andy Frasco gets around. He’s a former talent scout for Capitol Records, host of an insanely popular podcast (“Andy Frasco’s World Saving Shitshow”), outspoken mental health advocate and raucous bandleader. The City Paper recently caught up with this energetic entertainer to discuss his growth as a songwriter, his enthusiasm for psychedelic science, and his current tour that lands him back in the Lowcountry this week for two sold-out performances at the Charleston Pour House.
City Paper: When did you sense that you had a musical vocation?
Andy Frasco: It was definitely early on because I can remember driving around with my mom listening to the oldies station and hearing Sam Cooke, Wilson Pickett and people like that who had these giant personalities. I knew then that I wanted to be that, even though I’m this white Jewish dude from the suburbs. Well, I guess I would call myself, like, “Jew-ish.” I still hold the guilt, I have a neurotic stomach and I was bar mitzvahed. But, that’s about as far as it goes.
CP: You got started playing an instrument relatively late, but you’ve been at it a while now. How have your techniques as a music-maker evolved over the years?
AF: I feel like I became a better musician after I stopped being so self-absorbed. At first, I was all about partying and being a showman. I wasn’t concerned about listening to or communicating with anyone else and that really held me back for a long time.
CP: What sort of self-correcting measures did you implement?
AF: I went to therapy. I stopped taking coke. I stopped having one-night stands. I also started microdosing [mushrooms], which is primarily what helped me to get over my addictions and to re-think who I am as a person.
CP: Have you read Michael Pollan’s book on the new science of psychedelics, How to Change Your Mind?
AF: Yes! And like he says in the book, the beauty of psilocybin is that, no matter what has been programmed into your brain since childhood, it allows you to take a step back and see what changes need to be made.
CP: In the midst of that transformative process, did you find that you were better equipped to piece together weightier lyrics, like the ones that turned up on [the 2020 LP] Keep On Keepin’ On?
AF: Yeah. I mean, that record was a cry for help in a way, but for the first time, my mind was clear and my addictions weren’t controlling me. So, I found that I could actually talk about those things and how I was trying to secure my own mental health, without feeling insecure.
CP: Is there a particular song from that batch that holds special meaning for you?
AF: “Animals” is a really special song to me because it is like taking the microscope away. You know, we all tend to zoom in and analyze ourselves until we begin to hate ourselves, but when we take the microscope away, we realize that we’re all just fucking animals. We don’t need to overthink our happiness.
CP: Why did you decide to enlist Dave Schools [of Widespread Panic] as your co-producer for the last two albums?
AF: I got connected to him initially sort of as an intervention, I think. I was way too crazy at the time and so my manager, who also represents Dave, sent me off to meet with “the Buddha.” I quickly discovered that Dave is the sweetest gentle giant on the planet. Beyond that, he was the guy who inspired me to start taking myself seriously, to focus on being more of a team player within my band and to really start listening during my podcasts.
CP: Season 2 of the “Shitshow” is underway, and you’re currently out on the road for a handful of long overdue tour dates. What comes next for you?
AF: Hopefully, two weeks of hanging out in Charleston, once the tour is over. But, the floodgates are opening for real now in terms of live music. So, who knows? I try not to have too many expectations anymore. Too many expectations will kill a man.
Andy Frasco and the U.N. play the Charleston Pour House on Sun. April 11.
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City Paper has been bringing the best news, food, arts, music and event coverage to the Holy City since 1997. Support our continued efforts to highlight the best of Charleston with a one-time donation or become a member of the City Paper Club.