October 13th, 2014
Yes my excitable friends, it’s that time again already! It’s time to meet another awesome 311 fan!! I hope you all had an excellent weekend, and oh yeah, Happy Columbus Day! Whether you are off enjoying a Monday holiday or stuck at work like me, let’s get on with it and meet Mr. Frank Fratto!
High school is where Franks story of his love for 311 begins. It was a time where alternative rock was becoming the music to listen to and Frank was in to it. His local station in Chicago, Q101, would play “All Mixed Up” and “Down” constantly, so he first discovered them thanks to the airplay. He bought the Blue album as a freshman and while he loved the sound, it wasn’t until college that he really, truly began his relationship with their music. He met a guy during that time that he says “re-introduced him” to 311. Frank only owned the Blue album and Soundsystem at the time, so his new friend played Grassroots, Transistor, and From Chaos for him. He immediately fell in love with all three albums, and he and the guy became great friends, remaining that way to this day.
From Chaos had a different impact on Frank. He spent a semester in California and bought the album while away, listening to it for what he says was “almost an entire month straight.” He says it’s, “The perfect mix of funk, rock, punk, ska, reggae, and hip hop influenced beats.” One of his favorite quote comes from the song “Full Ride” – “Livin’ my life nice in pursuit of grooveology.” Frank says, “It’s a motto I try to live by. I’m sure there’s an alternate meaning to the guys in the band, but I’ve always looked at it as living life the way you want to live it. Enjoying life, taking it for what it has to offer. Being happy.”
While From Chaos is his favorite album as a whole, his favorite song, the one that means the most to him, is “Strong All Along.” Frank didn’t go into detail, but he mentioned he’s been through some rough times in his young adulthood battling depression, anxiety and loneliness. That is where “Strong All Along” comes in. “No matter what happened, any time I listened to this song I immediately felt very happy. Very fortunate to live the life I have lived. This song reminds me of how music transcends the instruments, vocals, and musicians and makes the listener actually feel something. It’s a simple, upbeat, catchy, poppy sing a long reggae song but to me it defines 311. It’s why they are my favorite band, why they put out great music, why they connect with their fans. The positivity. Believing in yourself. Believing that you can do anything you want to do.”
Since he fell for the awesome talents of 311, Frank has attended 16 shows and is grateful for every one of them. “I know some people have seen them a whole lot more and probably have done a lot more traveling than I have, but I’m pretty happy and consider myself very fortunate to have seen my favorite band multiple times in different places.” Frank has seen the band play in Chicago, St. Louis, Philadelphia and Las Vegas, and then last year in International waters on the cruise. Of all the shows and events he’s been to though, it’s 311 Day 2012 in Vegas that takes the top prize. “Epic is just one of the many words I would use to describe this experience. It was my first major 311 related event outside of concerts that I attended. I’ll be honest, I’m not much of a Las Vegas guy, I don’t gamble, and it just never really appealed to me. I had to make an exception for 311 and I’m glad I did. I’ve been to several concerts, so I know the feeling of being with hundreds of other fans and feeling connected but the 311 day experience is beyond that. It’s the mecca of 311 fans, I’ve never seen anything like it. Getting off of the plane people were greeting me instantly with high fives, commenting on my 311 shirt, just making me feel very welcome. I met so many other fans that weekend in Vegas that I never thought I’d meet in my life.”
One of the fans he met was Michelle Roche. He made the decision to attend a fan party after the show on 3/11/2012 and while at first he had reservations about going because he is pretty shy and reserved, he’s glad he did something he doesn’t normally do. “During a random conversation at the party, I was briefly introduced to Michelle, a fellow 311 fan and Familia group member. I have to be honest, I don’t exactly remember everything that was said, but I do remember her eyes looking directly into mine. I left the party that night feeling more happy than I have felt in years.” After the party Frank and Michelle kept in touch, talking pretty much every day. Then Michelle went to visit Frank in June of 2012 and after that weekend he said he knew his life was changed forever. “We’ve been dating for over two years now, and I consider myself a lucky guy every day. I think you can understand why the 311 day 2012 experience was my favorite of the two events I’ve attended.” Yay 311 love!
Frank was born and raised on the south side of Chi-town in the Bridgeport neighborhood and now resides in the southwest suburbs of the city in Tinley Park (about 30 minutes outside of Chicago). He is the oldest of five children in his Italian family (he has two sisters and two brothers). He now lives with one of his brothers and is very close with his entire family. “I come from an Italian family, so we are very close, we are very vocal, we enjoy spending time together, we love each other, and we love talking with our hands (haha). I’m the only real 311 fan in my immediate family, and although some of my family doesn’t understand it, they certainly can respect it.”
While not an athlete himself, he is a dedicated Chicago sports fan. “Growing up on the South Side, I was raised a Chicago White Sox fan, who are still my favorite sports team to this day. My dad used to take me to old Comiskey Park when I was younger to watch players like Harold Baines, Frank Thomas, Robin Ventura, and Ozzie Guillen. I can’t go a year without going to at least a few Sox games and I enjoy watching them on TV too.” He’s also a big fan of the Chicago Blackhawks, Bears, and Bulls.
Frank’s funded his passion for 311 by working hard at his job at the Illinois Tollway and has been there for almost 10 years now. He began his career in 2005 in the traffic operations center “working long and unusual hours.” He was just promoted last year to the engineering department and he says it’s definitely helped contribute to his concert fund, as well as that he lives with his bro and isn’t married (yet!!).
Frank claims he isn’t really an interesting person and doesn’t believe he has anything unique about him, but I say F that, because we are all amazing human beings! He’s had the opportunity to go on a couple of fishing trips in Canada that brought him once in a lifetime experiences. The first trip he jumped off of a cliff 40 feet high into a lake. Then his second trip, which was with his dad, he was lucky enough to catch a 46 inch Northern Pike that weighed almost 30 pounds! “Took both me and my dad to get it on the boat. For someone who doesn’t fish often, I’d say that’s a pretty cool thing to happen.” Frank also has a photographic memory which makes him have a really great knowledge of movies, actors, musicians, athletes and sports. “I can remember things that many people may have a hard time remembering themselves. For example, you probably never knew that the lead singer of a punk rock band called Pulley (a band i listen to) also used to be a starting pitcher for the Chicago White Sox, named Scott Radinsky. Scott Radinsky still has ties to baseball as a coach, and still rocks out with Pulley at shows.”
No matter what anyone says, every one of us has a guilty pleasure. For Frank it’s that he’s a closet fan of bad 80’s music. “Everything from hair metal to contemporary. My girlfriend isn’t thrilled about it but I don’t care. I can’t help it.” He also loves John Mayer’s music. “It’s funny because I used to bash him and wrote him off as another pop garbage singer when in reality the man can play the guitar and sing like no one I’ve ever seen.” Aside from some of his guilty pleasures, Frank says he really listens to a wide array of music genres. He credits dad for getting him into older bands like Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin. He said it was when he was as young as 10 that he was exposed to the world of rock music. A few other bands he listens to often are the Foo Fighters, Pearl Jam, Linkin Park, Incubus, Less Than Jake, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Green Day, The Offspring, Rise Against, and Chevelle. Along with 311 Frank says, “These are the bands that make me who I am.”
Frank met 311 just once and it was very brief so he didn’t get to say as much as he’d like to them. “If I had the chance to sit down with them for a few minutes and actually talk to them, I would thank them first off for taking the time to meet and talk to me and thank them for their music and continuing to put on amazing live shows. Chances are that I would be extremely nervous and probably wouldn’t remember what it is that I wanted to say to them though, haha. I am curious to know when SA began to incorporate the use of turntables and what his influences are as far as records to mix in each of the songs. I also would like to know when the band started the applied science drum solo routine.”
And now his words for all of you awesome excitable people:
“I just want to thank everyone who has ever introduced themselves to me at shows, shook my hand, bought me beer, sent me posters, sent me music, and just acknowledged me as a person. I’m a genuinely nice guy, if you approach me at a show and say hello, I’ll say hello right back to you.”
Well my friends, that is our brother Frank! I hope you all enjoyed his tale of his 311 love. Thank you, Merci, Gracias, for reading once again. It is my pleasure to introduce you all to each other and to learn more about each and every one of you! Until we meet again… “It’s alright…wherever you are right now…”
Much love – The Runt