Last year, Andy Frasco hit a breaking point. Sitting alone in his van, he felt alone and was not sure who his friends were, all the while battling addictions. At one point, he was on a 20-day bender of booze, coke, and one-night stands. Sleep deprived, Frasco was also dealing with people telling him how to perform and live his life. Overwhelmed by all the voices in his head, for a long time, Frasco felt “too proud” to go to therapy, until he couldn’t hold it all in anymore. As he started writing his upcoming album Keep On Keepin’ (SideOneDummy Records), out April 24, he realized it was time to get help.
“I just got fed up with suppressing my feelings, so I picked up the pen and started opening up,” he tells American Songwriter. “When I reread my inner notes, I realized that maybe it’s time I talk to someone other than my manager. Therapy put me on a path that has truly saved my life.”
Written in six months, the album’s title, Keep on Keepin’ On, says it all. Clearly uplifting from beginning to end, the singer wanted to write about his ongoing struggle with mental illness but make it more a universal message of perseverance and that no one is alone.
Luckily, Frasco has this natural knack for blending danceable funk-rock and soul into songs that are actually fun to ingest, even if the subject matter is depression. “I feel like this whole record talks about optimism through loneliness,” says Frasco. I just want people to know that they are not alone with these feelings. We’re here feeling the same. Life can’t always be happy, and that’s the beauty of living. We get to feel things.”
Kicking things off with title track “Keep on Keepin’ On,” Frasco sings Don’t think too much / It just complicates things / No room for judging, to heal me — and sets the tone through the album, and the track, partly inspired by comedian Gary Gulman’s own struggle with depression. Frasco even scored HBO’s The Great Depresh, the Judd Apatow-produced documentary about the comic’s story, directed by Mike Bonfiglio.
Frasco admits that he’s still dealing with depression and even contemplated suicide at one time but realized that he still had something to leave behind. “I didn’t want to be remembered just as some good-time party guy,” he says. “I wanted to show people that I’m more than the crowd-surfing, Jameson-drinking maniac they see onstage.”
A rabid performer, Frasco, tours voraciously. Desperate to get on stage and perform, when he was starting out he used his bar mitzvah money to buy a van, cold called thousands of venues, and managed to book 200 shows for himself. “I was so determined to be in this industry because I loved every inch of it so much from an early age,” says Frasco. “Even if the industry wasn’t going to accept me at first, I didn’t take that as an excuse to sit around and wait for these guys to do the dirty work. I was going to learn to book tours, market shows, and do it myself.”
Believing in yourself is half the battle, he says. “Don’t wait for someone else to believe in you if deep down in your gut you know this is what you want to do,” says Frasco. “Go out there and get your hands dirty.”
His podcast, “Andy Frasco’s World Saving Podcast,” has also been another form of therapy for Frasco and has taught him to never give up, because the alternate isn’t that much fun—especially to the ones who love you.
A recent interview with Dead & Company bassist Oteil Burbridge helped Frasco put his ongoing struggles into perspective. “[It] really opened my eyes to this ‘you are not alone with how you feel’ theory,” says Frasco. “He’s such a beautiful soul who has gone through so much death in his life. And the way that he stays so optimistic through all the heartbreak is inspiring.”
Frasco is still working through his own mental illness today and hopes his music reaches anyone else who is struggling. It helped him to keep on keeping on—and still is.