Eric Andre on the Upright Bass: "Don't Play It. Pick Another Instrument"

The comedian advises you "run for the fucking hills" before bowing the strings in a new interview

Photo (right): The Loft (Facebook)

BY Calum SlingerlandPublished Apr 27, 2023

Years before considering a career in comedy, discovering photocopier life hacks and having his acclaimed talk show air for six seasons, Eric Andre was an upright bass-playing major at Berklee College of Music in Boston. Now, the comedian and actor has delved into his relationship with the "fucking demanding instrument" in a new interview.

In conversation with Interview, Andre called enrolling at Berklee "the biggest mistake of my life," explaining, "At one point I almost went back to Florida and joined a band, which would've been a fucking nightmare decision. My mom talked me out of that, thank god. I finished a four-year program in three years."

Continuing to humorously shatter any notion of prestige an institute like Berklee may carry, Andre shared of his higher education, "It's music school, man. Anybody can go. You can handcuff a chimpanzee to a saxophone and it'll graduate with straight A's ... I think they just want your money. [Berklee] had an 85 percent acceptance rate when I was there. You put yourself on tape, write an essay, and get letters of recommendation. But they don't care. They just want to dupe teenagers into thinking they're going to rock-n-roll school."

All this time after graduating, Andre revealed that he still picks up the bass on occasion, having bought a new instrument in recent years: "I was like, 'I finally can afford a bass that sounds good and isn't a shitty piece of plywood.' And so I was like, 'Fuck yeah. I'm buying a bass. That actually sounds fucking rad.'"

Asked for any playing tips, Andre answered, "I don't know if you want to do head movements or rock back and forth. You can if you're feeling it, but you want to be efficient and conserve all your energy for playing, so it's not good technique. You want to take a deep breath before you play, you don't want to be tense. It's hard to stay relaxed, but that's crucial if you can. You got to play the bass, you can't let the bass play you."

Did he ever consider comedy when playing music? Andre shared, "I was always a class clown, but I never thought of pursuing comedy as a career. I was very intimidated by even the idea of it. I had stage fright and anxiety.

"Then as I was finishing college, I was like, 'Well, music is not the move for me, and the music I make is not good.' So I was like, 'I'm not going to make any money doing this. This is a terrible idea.' Also, in Music History we studied this 20th-century composer Charles Ives, who said, 'Never make money making music. You'll always compromise your artistic integrity.' For some reason, that resonated with me."

Ultimately, Andre advises, "Don't play it. Pick another instrument. Run for the fucking hills." You can read his complete chat with Interview here, and can revisit some of the more memorable moments of bass from The Eric Andre Show below.

Last year, Andre appeared in Season 2 of The Righteous Gemstones, Guillermo del Toro's Cabinet of Curiosities and a short film with Toro Y Moi.

As previously reported, Season 6 of The Eric Andre Show premieres Sunday, June 4, on Adult Swim.

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