Even as young as 14, Fredo Fosco had a bit of rock star in his veins.
A few years ago, Fosco and his Downers Grove bandmates in Clear Confusion were already working audiences like pros. They played the Illinois State Fair after winning the 2015 Illinois State Battle of the Bands. They opened for a White Sox game, warmed up the crowd for Drake Bell and entertained at the Taste of Chicago with their punk-influenced alternative rock.
Now on a cross-country tour with the band’s current incarnation, Fredo Disco (so named because of a recurring auto-correct glitch), Fosco comes home Wednesday, March 11, for a stop at Chicago’s Subterranean on Have Mercy’s “Farewell Tour” with Glacier Veins and Young Culture.
Joined by former Clear Confusion bandmates Colin Riordan and Max King and newer bandmate Aidan Cada, Fosco’s route to tour life came from firmly planting seeds in DIY territory.
“I was literally taking an iPhone, putting it on a pillow and doing a recording in one take sometimes,” Fosco said.
Fosco’s skills are in writing simple and catchy songs loaded with clever lyrics and witty turns of phrase — indie bedroom pop, he called what he was recording at the time. His delivery is warm and personable, like chatting with a friend about the future, the struggles of self-expression and relationship issues.
“We’re a full band now,” he said. “We kind of mess around with punk beats and rock beats and all that stuff. There’s influences from all over right now.”
Building up an engaged fan base on social media — “It’s all about being active in the right places,” he said — and using online music sites such as Spotify and SoundCloud led the band’s charge to grass-roots popularity. Hitting a personal goal of pumping out a song a week in 2017 didn’t hurt either.
“We just released everything, and it leaves a trail. Like a breadcrumb trail for people to follow,” Fosco said. “And that gets people way more invested in your project when they can follow and make connections from day one. People get a lot more emotionally attached.”
“It’s the way for people who are young and don’t have the means to tour,” Fosco said. “You have to grind out on the internet. You can get to just as many, if not more, people who aren’t just your family and friends from high school. You can get your music to people all over the place.”
It wasn’t until Fosco started a short stint as a DePaul University student that all the work paid off.
“I sent out like 250 emails to every single booking agent, record label, venue, manager, anything I could think of,” he said. “I didn’t get a single response to anything at all. I started feeling pretty discouraged about it. I slept through my first two days of college. … I started out the semester with a 50% in attendance in two or three of my courses, which is most of your grade. So that’s terrible.”
One night, Fosco followed booking agent Jason Parent on social media, and woke up to a follow back from him. “‘Good (expletive), Fredo,’ it said,” Fosco said, laughing.
That connection led to an offer to tour with Michigan pop-punk band Hot Mulligan and fellow Chicago band Belmont. And then the reissue of the Fredo Disco’s debut full-length “Very Cool Music for Very Cool People” after signing with Public Consumption Recording Company. And then the current tour with Have Mercy, plus two more tours coming up this year.
Fredo Disco also has a new EP planned for release this summer, with another album on the calendar for next year.
The path to this point might not have been planned for the band, but the future has some clear steps ahead.
“The three of us have been playing together for a very, very, very long time,” Fredo said of bandmates Riordan and King. “We grew up together, and now we’re out here trying to be adults together, too. … I’m sitting in a van right now with five of my friends and driving to San Francisco. It’s been a hard goal to get to this part of it. But now that we’re here, it’s made it all worth it.”
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Have Mercy “Farewell Tour” with Fredo Disco, Glacier Veins and Young Culture
When: 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 11
Where: Subterranean, 2011 W. North Ave., Chicago, (773) 278-6600 or subt.net