Outspoken, hardworking and intense are just a few ways to describe Anthony James “AJ” Fratto, frontman for Pensacola, Florida rock group Lugosi.
One week before their slot as the “Metal” for Don Jamieson’s Night of Comedy and Metal at Vinyl Music Hall, Fratto answered a few questions about the event and his band Lugosi for my music column in the Pensacola News Journal.
*** AJ Fratto Interview ***
MS: Tell me more about your role in next week’s show at Vinyl with Don Jamieson?
AJ: We’re providing all the music. We’ll do a couple of our own tunes, but we’ll do old school heavy metal, we’ll do a little Van Halen and KISS, but we’re going to do some Slayer, some Anthrax, Motorhead, you know stuff like that here. Really dirty, we’re even going to do some old school Misfits, “Where Eagles Dare” which is going to be a trip. Kind of underground New York City, circa 1970 something or other. Obviously very punkish, but still Danzigish. It should be a lot of fun. Hopefully we get a lot of people to come out and Bubbs (Harris) is trying hard trying to build a comedy following in town and we’re here to provide the metal and tear it up.
MS: For those people who have never experienced the AJ Fratto experience, what are they in for?
AJ: A real treat. Get ready to get your eyelids peeled back.
MS: With the show next week, what else do you having coming up in town?
AJ: July 7th, we have a show at Castaways out at the beach. It will be our first show on the beach. And people are really starting to enjoy…sometimes we play a show, where there are a ton of people, sometimes it’s hit and miss. That one time at the inaugural game of the Blue Wahoos and then last week was Hangout Festival, we did our first show at Seville and it went over really well and the people were really digging us and we did everything from 60’s soul to “From Who the Bell Tolls” from Metallica. A lot of people, the sound guy and all the people that run the joint, everbody was like, “These guys are pretty fantastic.” It’s always been that me being the giant Magilla Gorilla, the monkey in the middle, they always see me and my bands always been kind of hermogenous, just kind of really, really good, but they don’t really know who they are. Well, now people are starting to know who the rest of the band is and that really makes me happy because it makes it more of a team thing than more of an AJ thing.
MS: Who are your band members that are playing next week?
AJ: My guitarist is Chris Osbourne and we call him “Oz”. And then we have Chris Weaver who is our bass player. And then we have Michael Lukers who is our drummer. He is pound-for-pound the best drummer around here. There’s nobody around as good as him. I don’t care who it is. I’ve got the best drummer in town and if anybody’s got a problem with that, they should come let me know to my face.
MS: I don’t think you’ll have any takers for that. They’re going to stand down.
AJ: That’s right, they know who daddy is. He rocks.
MS: When you’re onstage, you’re so intense. What is the coolest part about performing for you?
AJ: Whether there’s a million people or one person, to me, if they’re there to watch us perform, I’m going to give them a hundred and ten percent of blood sweet and tears, heart and soul. Because that’s what it’s all about. If you’re having a bad day and I can make you feel good about yourself through the power of music, then I feel ten times better about myself as a human being. Because music is the soundtrack of our lives. Good, bad or indifferent, whether you like it or not, the first time, your first kiss, what you were doing, what you were wearing, what was on the radio, you remember these things, these precious moments in your life. And if I can make an impression on you or on anybody else who’s having a rough time and I can make you feel good or motivate you or make you want to live or make you want to do great things in your life, it’s a beautiful thing, I’ve been given a God-given talent not just to sing, but to provide a heart and a soul that evokes that emotion and hits you right in the heart, hits you right in the face. And there’s no denying it. There are people out there that are 10 times better singers or prettier than me, or whatever you want to call it, but they ain’t got the soul that I got. They ain’t got the heart that I got. They ain’t got no soul. God gave it all to me. (laughs)
AJ: I just want people to be really aware of who Lugosi is and what will be coming. Don’t be afraid of the name because it comes from an old school monster in 1939 circa you know actor Below Lugosi, don’t be confused by the name, we’re not a hard punk band. We are a band of the ages. We are Rock of Ages. We do a little bit of everything. We want to keep you on your toes. We want you to say, “Holy Shit! They did that! Are you kidding me?” I love that! I’m never going to be a Steve Perry from Journey. I’m never going to be Jeff Tate from Queensryche, but you know what? I don’t have to be, baby! I’m AJ Fratto. I used to be conscientious about not being able to hit the pristine high notes and this and that. But then I realized that if the good Lord wanted me to do that, I would have done it. But he gave me soul and that’s what I got. Being this heavy, heavy metal guy, this heavy set dude, whatever you want to call it, pumped up, what comes out of my mouth is what they think is going to be a lot screaming and a lot of crap. But, “Holy shit! That guy can sing.” Damn right I can sing. So that’s the only thing that I don’t like. When people just assume that I’m going to be “ARRRR! ARRRR! RAW!”
- Michael L. Smith