Dancing to his own tune
Posted: 15 Jul 2013
Fraser – founding member and bass player of 1970s seminal blues-rock band, Free
– wrote the band’s mega-hit All Right Now and Robert
Palmer’s Every Kinda People as well as songs recorded by Joe
Cocker, Chaka Khan, Rod Stewart, Three Dog Night, Frankie Miller, Etta James
and Bob Seger among others.
Now he has his own Andy Fraser Band and is at
the helm of McTrax Records, which releases his own work and also spots and
nurtures new talent, such as British singer songwriter Tobi whose father hails
from the North East. You can see them along with guitar ace Chris Spedding at
the Park Hotel in Tynemouth on 2 August. For more details check out Andy’s
Andy, who has a new EP called Beautiful and a
new album called On Assignment spoke to ne4me about his past, his influences
and his current music ahead of the gig.
How would you describe your music now to that of Free?
My father was a descendant of slaves in what was British Guiana, sugar
plantations run by the Fraser clan, and though I can't say much good about my
father, the one positive thing I inherited was that calypso feel, which today
has evolved into reggae. Now that I am more true to my real self, I find that
influence coming out naturally. When I listen to Free I can hear it slightly,
and now it wouldn't take much for a lot of Free songs to have a reggae
inflection. So today I feel my music has the underpinnings of basic blues and
Rock, a touch of R&B, and a good dose of Reggae. Lyrically, "Naked...
and Finally Free" was like a very personal statement, a 'coming out'
album, and the current "On Assignment" is like "OK, I've got
that off my chest", can look outward, be more socially and politically
sensitive and express my concerns, opinions, call to action whatever in a
bigger sphere, and feel ready to make my contribution, and thankful for having
a second chance to do so. As most people know I was nearly a goner, so now I don't
want to waste a moment.
When will the new album be released?
Officially end of month in UK, but you can actually get it now at Mctrax.com
What is it about Tobi and Chris Spedding that made you decide to tour with
Tobi, being the first artist signed to our McTrax label, is the main reason for
the tour – a chance to showcase what we believe will be the 'next big thing'. A
very young, incredibly talented singer/guitarist/songwriter, who can also
bust a move, he’s in for a very long career. Although he can play all the
guitar on the recordings, even he can't play two guitars at once, so having
another great guitarist LIVE is a must. Chris Spedding fits the bill.
Do you find that touring, making films and writing music complement each other
or do you see them as separate?
They all come under the McTrax umbrella. They are all things I enjoy and feel
passionate about. I must say life has taken an unexpected turn with me now
running a label, producing and promoting other artists, making videos, movies,
and also writing and touring. I feel I need 36 hours in each day, but relish
the adventure I find myself on.
Are you still in touch with other Free members like Middlesbrough-born Paul
Simon and I stay in touch a little, Paul and I have a problem getting on the
same page. I suspect the underlying reason is, as personalities, we are polar
opposites. A and Z. When two people that far apart find common ground, I
believe it creates an all-inclusive space where it has appeal to the widest
range of people. Free had that. Lennon and McCartney too, if you think about
it. When you are young and hungry, I guess you put up with the differences. Now
I suspect both of us feel doing things our own way works, so why move back to
Do you recall playing in the North East in those days?
Yup – memory still intact. I remember some great times. There was a time when I
could remember all the gigs in order, how well we did, even how much we got
paid etc. Then as with any great marriage that ends in divorce, it is too
painful to retain, and one has to let go.
Do you have any connections with the region?
Strongest ones are the people I've met over the years touring through there. As
it happens Tobi's dad is from there, and I get a good dose of it from him.