After suffering marijuana-induced psychosis, the Mad Fanatic got high on the Denver Broncos
Meet Andrew Young, aka the Mad Fanatic, Denver Broncos superfan.
Andrew Young loves the Denver Broncos. A lot. No, seriously, he's a fanatic. Literally. Broncos football is what this guy lives for. He says it saved his life and gave him purpose. After being hospitalized for marijuana-induced psychosis, his life lost much of its color, but orange and blue never faded. Now, you've heard sports songs, and you've seen superfans, but Young, better known as the Mad Fanatic, occupies both of these spaces like no one you've ever seen before.
Oddly, Young's not even from Denver. He's from Connecticut, and he still lives there, in fact. Minor detail. As the Mad Fanatic, Young is soundtracking this historic season, one track at a time. And in case you're wondering, it doesn't sound like it's just a novelty to promote his "other" music. This is his music, he insists. All he writes about is the Denver Broncos. What's more, even if it were merely a gimmick to gain notice, talk about painting yourself into a corner. That sort of typecasting shadow anything else you might do in the future. We caught up with Young to hear more about his story and learn precisely how a kid from the East Coast developed an undying devotion to our beloved Donkeys.
Westword: Tell me how you got so interested in football.
Andrew Young (aka the Mad Fanatic): I'm not even really sure. I started watching football in middle school. I just, I don't know, all of my friends started playing football and stuff like that, and I started watching the Broncos because I liked the new jerseys when they switched to the dark blue jerseys in like 1997. And then they ended up winning the Super Bowl that year, and I fell in love with the team, especially when the "This one's for John" moment happened.
I followed them that whole season though, so it wasn't like I became a fan after they won it. I just happened to become a fan at the perfect time. And then they went and won it again the next year. And then I just started loving football. I mean as soon as I watched football I started loving it, but I guess I got into football from seeing my friends playing Pop Warner and stuff like that.
You're from Connecticut, right?
So even when the Broncos play the Patriots, you're still a Broncos fan?
[Laughs] Absolutely. I'm a fanatic for the Broncos. I can't stand the Patriots.
And you think it's just because of the jerseys they wore that you happened to pick them up?
Yeah, originally. My favorite color's orange, so when I was young I wanted a John Elway jersey. When they got the new ones, the dark ones, I just liked how they looked. I was like, "I want that jersey." And then once I had the jersey, I was like, "I might as well watch them and root for them now." And then I started really following them, and then I, like, loved the team. But my other teams are the Knicks and the Mets, so blue and orange are my colors, for real.
So do you live in Colorado now?
No, I still live in Connecticut. I just went to Denver for the first time a few weeks ago. A bunch of my supporters helped send me out there. I had a Kickstarter campaign, and that failed, and then the people that were trying to support it still did it, and we kinda made it happen in a grassroots kind of way. Somebody was like, "You don't need to get a car. I'll just bring you everywhere you gotta go once you get here." And then somebody just gave me a ticket to a game and an on-field pass. It was crazy.
Wow. You've got some dedicated fans.
Yeah, they're pretty cool.
So it's funny because there's a lot of music about sports teams, but most of it's really kind of gimmicky and pretty much about name dropping. But you obviously have a deeper passion and understanding than the ordinary fan, and I was wondering if you could talk about what makes your fandom different than your everyday fan
Well, first and foremost, I don't know about the everyday fan. I really love my team. Like, I live Denver football when it's not football season -- like I'm following who's doing well in the offseason... and who's dropping balls, and who's showing up out of shape, and who we're drafting. The draft, to me, is the best time of the year.
So I really know the team, the insides and outs. And I like their stories. I like knowing about their backgrounds -- Trindon Holliday almost not going to a D1 school and the coach coming to see another player and... You know what I mean? Especially if you're going to do what I'm going to do, it's better to really know what you're talking about than to just kinda know who the players are and, like, a little bit about them.
And then as far as how my music is a little bit different than most people that just name drop and kinda do the regular stuff; I feel like their approach is different than mine because I was always a singer-songwriter first -- like an R&B singer-songwriter -- so I write songs. I pick a concept and I stick with the concept and I kind of build around that.
But the reason why I even started making music about the Broncos is because I went through this traumatic experience where I had to be hospitalized for a while, like in a psych-ward -- that's where I got the "Mad" part of the Mad Fanatic. I was smoking way too much marijuana, and I just went off the deep end, like I had a mental break.
And after I came out of the hospital, I realized that I can't smoke anymore. It's not good for me. But I used to think that all of my creativity came from me smoking. So, for a while, I was crazy depressed; I didn't want to do anything because I couldn't create, and, I don't know, I didn't know what I wanted to do with my life, and I was just... I was really almost close to not wanting to live at all.
Then I found that the only thing I still had interest in at all was the Broncos, was being on the Broncos Country forum and just talking about the draft and studying players. And I was like, "I still have a passion for one thing." I didn't even have a passion for my wife at the time, like, I was just so miserable. But I still got a lot of fulfillment from talking with other fans about the Broncos, which may sound silly to some people, but to me it was like my saving grace. It was the only thing that kept me sane.
And then Lil' Wayne did that song, the remix to [Wiz Khalifa's] "Black and Yellow." And then I was like, "Maybe I should make a song about the Broncos," because I was inspired by his song or whatever. And I think a lot of the reason I didn't have creativity wasn't because I wasn't smoking, it was more so because I wasn't doing anything, so I didn't have anything to inspire me to talk about. But the one thing I was doing was still watching football. So I was like, "I got tons of stuff to talk about. I got all these new draft picks to talk about. I'm excited for the season. I think Tebow's gonna get a shot." Blah, blah, blah.
So I went and recorded this song, "Blue and Orange," a remix to that same "Black and Yellow" song, and I put it on YouTube -- the first song I ever put on YouTube -- and it got like 100,000 views, and, like, 27 players retweeted it or tweeted me and said, "Oh my God. This song is sick," like Julius Thomas, Eric Decker, Brian Dawkins, D.J. Williams, like, tons of players started showing me tons of love. The joy I got from that I was like, "Wow!"
I don't know, that was an experience. It kind of trumped doing R&B stuff, and I was like, "You know, I wanna do another song." And then I did another one. And then I did another one. And then I did another one. And I started feeling like... once I heard somebody say that -- Julius Thomas said it first -- "This is my new junk. I'm gonna listen to it all summer." He's gonna listen to it in the locker room.
I'm like, "If a player can listen to my song before they go play, you know what I mean? I could be having some sort of impact on the game." And then I was like, "Wait, what if I get the fans more fired up for the game?" And then they're in the crowd yelling louder, you know what I mean? I started feeling like it mattered. So then I just wanted to do that full-time. So now that's what I do.