Andy Japan Oct 2013.JPG

Andy Fraser: Make Some Noise

Rock Against Trafficking

Words Paul Watson

The human trafficking global statistics make staggering reading. Believe it or not, twenty-seven million people are slaves today, eighty percent of which are women and girls, and fifty percent of which are minors. Every year, two million kids are exploited to the global sex trade; it's the largest criminal enterprise after drugs, and the fastest growing.

To attempt to combat this through music, renowned record producer, Gary Miller, created Rock Against Trafficking (RAT). He has already rallied together a phenomenal collection of internation artists and musicians, all of whom are doing their bit to raise funds and awareness for this horrific global problem.

I caught up with the influential Andy Fraser, former bassist for Free, who was responsible for penning the group's world-famous hit, All Right Now. To say Fraser is behind this cause is an understatement; he lives and breathes it.

What does it mean to you, and how did you get involved in RAT?

The whole RAT thing – we’re very excited about it – but it’s like herding cats! [smiles] And most of the managers we deal with have bigger egos than their artists, but that’s a whole other story! But seriously, when I became aware of the numbers, and the reality, and that human trafficking is actually going on in your local town, I was just staggered. I’ve heard horror stories about places just a couple of villages away, and I think it’s our job to raise awareness and funds to fight this. Let’s create a public demand, and let something be done. Right now, it’s so under the rug, it just continues. It truly is a world problem.

I’ve known Gary [Miller] for about a year now, and when I met him, his enthusiasm and his commitment for the cause was so strong, I just had to get onboard. Apart from the fact that he’s a great guy, and an unbelievably talented producer, we get on well, and we share the same commitments.

You’ve had a phenomenal influence in music, especially during your time with Free; and there are so many eclectic and influential artists already involved in RAT: Joss Stone, Slash, Julian Lennon, just to name a few...

Yeah, it’s a great start, and we’re now looking for country artists and Christian artists, too. We wanted it to be well rounded, you know? Music covers the whole sphere, and for a cause like this, I don’t think it matters what you play, you’ve just got to get behind it. I have to say though, I do wish there were 36 hours in a day rather than 24! I have to be very disciplined with my time as far as sleeping regularly, eating properly, and exercising at least two hours a day, so really it’s a case of cramming everything into fuck all, basically. I keep a laptop in the bathroom, so I don’t waste a minute!

RAT has partnered with IJM (International Justice Mission). That sounds like a nice fusion..

Oh absolutely. They’ve definitely been the most successful at clamping this down. We’re also in with the Kennedy Foundation, as it’s important to have a good presence in Washington, But IJM really are the leaders.

The first RAT music project involves the creation of a double album, which is a series of Sting & The Police cover versions, right?

Yeah, each artist chooses their favourite track from the catalogue, and records that, with Gary producing each one. I’m doing Every Breath You Take, but I’m not opposed to playing on anyone else’s track, either – I’m quite up for that, in fact. So basically, I’m doing whatever I can to make this happen. My neck is on the line as much as Gary’s is here.

And the end goal, at least for this chapter in RAT, is to hold a big concert in London next year, on the 30th Anniversary of Live Aid

That’s right. I’ve brought in a company that will not only put the concert on, they will simulcast it to theatres globally. We intend to run it through live streaming on a pay-per-view basis around the world, and then we will take footage of that concert, add behind the scenes footage of that concert, and what have you, and there will be a DVD available shortly thereafter. The album comes out in the Spring, and on Grammy night, we intend to have an album launch in LA, with a number of artists present. We have also approached the Grammys to try and organise a wrap charity bash with some more artists, and we’re awaiting the decision, so potentially, that could be a great night for RAT.

And you’ve still managed to find time to record your own new album, too

[laughs] Yes, somehow! I’ve just released On Assignment, and I expect to be in England next month to sort out all manner of things – one being the promotion of that album; and two being the motion arm of our label, McTrax, releasing a movie called Tears of a Mermaid, and NBC Universal are very interested in doing a 90-minute global theatre release on it, so I’ll be tying all of that up, and cramming in as much as I can when I’m over there. My daughter, Hannah, is in it – she dances with sharks, which many people assume is CGI, but I can assure you it’s not! I’m the official producer; I do the music, kick ass, and pay the bills! Her commitment is perfectly on show, so mine has to equal it! [smiles]

RAT sounds like it’ll also have to be an ongoing commitment, considering the height of the trafficking problem around the world..

It will indeed. Once we’ve done this album, Set Them Free, the next album will begin; and the album after that might be world music, or we could do an opera album. What I’m trying to say is, it’s a total ongoing commitment, and we’ll keep it in your face until the authorities that are supposed to be taking care of this get off their duff. And the only way to do that is to keep making a noise, and keep the public aware. It’s our job to continually raise awareness and funds.

RIP Andy Fraser, and thank you for the music.