In Pop Shop, we support the dying art of physical shopping by visiting independent record and book stores with some of our favorite actors, writers, directors, and musicians.
The shopper: Comedian Eric André, host of the phantasmagorical Adult Swim “talk show” The Eric Andre Show, is combination anarchist, performance artist, and pop-culture deconstructionist. Essentially the product of Tom Green-styled pranks and Jackass’ self-masochism, André belies the buffoonery with smarts, providing a subtle biting satire on our gabfest, TMZ-addled culture. The day after Lou Reed’s death, we went to Origami Vinyl, one of the hippest record stores in Echo Park, CA. With a little help from owner Neil Schield and The A.V. Club, André navigated crates that seemed, at first, a little baffling.
The A.V. Club: You definitely support up-and-coming bands. You had Killer Mike on the show. Do you make the music discoveries on the show?
Eric André: It’s a combination of people we want, people who reach out to me on Twitter, and friends of my producers. I have a karaoke punk band called The Ungrateful Dead, but we don’t exist yet. We had Curren$y on the show and he smoked weed like cigarettes. The stage manager came out and was like, “Is someone smoking weed out here?” You can’t stop Curren$y from smoking weed. But he killed it. He sang an opera song. We had Jonwayne on the show this year, and he’s friends with one of the producers. We had him perform unplugged, which was really stupid. We just had a sampler, not plugged in, and he played it for a really dumb bit. Dead Can Dance. My friend’s hippie mom was really into this band. I forget what they’re like. Aren’t they like Enya or Enigma? Or maybe they’re more experimental. What is Dead Can Dance?
Neil Schield: They’re sort of like a world-meets-goth ethereal vibe.
EA: Is it like Enigma?
NS: No, Enigma is more electronic. These guys are more like huge orchestras and tabla players.
EA: Oh, that actually sounds cool! Never mind, I’m talking shit.
AVC: They toured last year.
EA: I had the wrong impression of them. Can is good. My friend just got me into them.
AVC: What kind of stuff did you grow up with?
EA: Mr. Bungle. I was a big Mr. Bungle guy.
AVC: So you were a bratty kid back then?
EA: Yeah. Mr. Bungle and a lot of Wu-Tang Clan. Frank Zappa. A lot of jazz stuff. A lot of boring jazz stuff like Mingus. I grew up in Boca Raton, Florida—the worst place on earth.
AVC: Was there ever a scene there?
EA: There was a ska revival scene! A fuckin’ third-wave ska scene! It was so lame where I was from. I think it’s what made me the man I am today. It makes me fucking appreciate the big cities. Then I went to Berklee, a music school in Boston, and then New York. When I was finishing college, I was like, “Man, fuckin’ upright bass is not gonna pay the bills. So I switched to comedy.” So I did stand-up for about 10 years. I started doing that in Boston, and that’s how I got into all of this. Boston is a pretty stand-up-rich town, so I was doing that full time. I sold my bass. [Scans rack.] Man, I don’t know anything anymore. Is this good? A Place To Bury Strangers? It looks cool!
AVC: The latest one, Worship, is okay. The band’s older stuff was better.
EA: I think there should be some regulation, like your cover can only look as cool as your music. There needs to be someone regulating these album covers, saying, “You gotta tone it down. Put some shitty clip art on the cover.” I don’t know anything anymore. I used to be so up on my shit.
(At this point in the interview, Mr. André regrouped and spent five minutes browsing, selecting five records to discuss, with limited recommendations.)
Various Artists, The Ecstasy Of Gold: 22 Killer Bullets From The Spaghetti West Vol. 2
EA: I’ve been listening to a mix Josh Fadem made for me of all these Italian composers, and film scores from the ’70s. The shit is awesome! It’s basically like prog-rock with an orchestra, or progressive, David Axelrod-style funk. So this one sounds fucking awesome. I’m very excited about this.
AVC: Are you a big movie guy?
EA: No. You know what? I’ve never seen The Goonies. I’ve never seen Indiana Jones. I watched UHF over and over again when I was little, and that was it. I had no time for any other movies. I watched Naked Gun, UHF, and Airplane! over and over.
AVC: That comes through in your comedy aesthetic.
EA: Yeah, I just wasted my time watching the same three movies over and over again. I’m super movie-illiterate. I just saw The Shawshank Redemption for the first time.
AVC: Maybe growing up in Boca Raton, there were just too many outside activities.
EA: No, I was bored as shit. I should have been watching those movies.
Naughty By Nature, “Everything’s Gonna Be Alright” 12’’ Single
AVC: Is this a later release?
EA: No, look at the shoes he’s wearing—classic Reebok Pumps. This is the single. I never owned a Naughty By Nature record, but they were in such heavy rotation on MTV that I knew I could always turn on the TV and enjoy them.
AVC: Do you remember the controversy growing up, where every kid would love to talk about what “O.P.P.” meant?
EA: Totally. That was big. And then somebody told me what it meant, and I was like, “No it doesn’t!” All I had to do was listen to the lyrics for five minutes, and he explains it really thoroughly. Back then I just didn’t pay attention. I was just jamming out.
AVC: Was hip-hop your first musical love?
EA: Honestly, this sounds like a cop-out, but it really was everything. My first cassette tape was Digable Planets. And my first CD was John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme. My first vinyl was the Ghostbusters II Bobby Brown single, [Sings.] “If it’s up to us we’ve got to take control / We got, we got, we got…”
Lou Reed, Metal Music Machine
EA: Lou Reed! I just found out he died, and that sucks. [Reading.] “This LP contains a stereo reproduction of the original quadrophonic master.” Wow, I got tempted to buy a quadrophonic stereo system on eBay, but figured that would probably be a bad investment, because nothing would play on it.
AVC: What has Lou Reed’s music meant to your life?
EA: Not too much. I really just like this album. I like Velvet Underground, but I was never really hardcore into them. I like them, and I like Nico, but I won’t front like I’m super knowledgeable. I just never got around to it. I heard this album when I was in college and was blown away. I think he had to put out four more albums to get out of his contract with his label that he didn’t like at the time, so he just put out this album, which is a four-disc set of layers of feedback. It sounds awesome! One of our monologues from this season is based on this album, so it’s tragic that he just died. They say that this is the first industrial record, this and maybe the fucking Eraserhead soundtrack.
AVC: This album seems like a perfect metaphor for your comedy: “We’re going to push you as far as we can.”
EA: Yeah, I know! It’s so noisy, but it’s so angelic. It’s a great “fuck you” album.
Boards Of Canada, Music Has The Right To Children
EA: I don’t know Boards Of Canada, but I was told they’re a mellower Venetian Snares. I also have faith in Warp Records. I dig this cover. Like we were saying, I get suckered into album artwork.
AVC: Metal records always up the ante on the covers.
EA: What’s your favorite metal cover?
AVC: Probably any Cannibal Corpse cover.
EA: Ever heard of the Mexican metal band Brujeria? The front cover was an actual picture of this guy that was beheaded by a train, and the cover was the severed head of the mayor of some town in Mexico who was tied to the train tracks and had his head ripped off. That cover would pass our music cover board process.
Reverend Douglas Bell & The Stage Cruisers, Nuclear Blast
AVC: I’m totally unfamiliar with this.
EA: Nuclear Blast is my porn name, so I figured I’d better fucking buy the record! I don’t know what this is, but it looks fucking awesome!
AVC: Is this funk?
EA: No, I think it’s gospel. Neil picked it out.
AVC: Were you a church-going kid?
EA: No, not at all. I was raised by atheists.
AVC: What do your folks do?
EA: I was raised in a lab. My dad’s a psychiatrist and my mom teaches computers and does bookkeeping and accounting. My dad listened to Lionel Richie and Dave Koz. Light jazz, or dad jazz. My mom fucking rocked Joan Baez.
AVC: You’re this weird microcosm of late ’80s and early ’90s, and then total throwback stuff.
EA: I think that’s five records. I’m going to reject your Superchunk recommendation, because I have nothing but contempt for you and really want to end the interview on an insulting note. [Laughs.]