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Music

Bill Hader and his first musical love, Frank Zappa

The 21st century has been blessed with a plethora of great comedians, and Bill Hader ranks at the very top of the pile. The actor, comedian, filmmaker, and impressionist has remained one of the most instantly recognisable figures in Hollywood for the better part of two decades.

His raspy voice and sharp, surreal form of comedy have combined to create a character that is certain to be celebrated in the future in the same way as other veterans of Saturday Night Live, such as John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd, and even Chevy Chase. 

Although he cut his teeth on SNL, following in the footsteps of some of America’s greatest comedians, after he had established himself as one of the funniest men out there, Hader made his segue into the film industry. It was here that he truly made his mark. To date, he has starred in some of the most iconic comedies of the modern era, including SuperbadTropic ThunderPineapple ExpressForgetting Sarah Marshall, and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. 

Hader is of the most prominent names in the ‘Apatow Mafia’ due to his links to director Judd Apatow, and in this group of figures, he is connected to the likes of Seth Rogen, Danny McBride, Jay Baruchel, Jason Segel, Jonah Hill, and Craig Robinson. Together, they are the current generation’s version of the ‘Frat Pack’ and the ‘Brat Pack’ that came before.

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Given that he is such a colourful character, Hader has a variety of exciting tastes, from books to music. During an interview with Pitchfork in 2019, when discussing the music that “made him”, Hader revealed that his first musical love was Frank Zappa. For anyone familiar with his work, this will be unsurprising, particularly when you note his involvement in the stoner classic Pineapple Express and the fact that Zappa is a favourite of stoners worldwide.

At only five years old, Frank Zappa’s 1974 record Apostrophe (‘) changed Bill Hader’s life. He told the publication: “The first time I ever put a needle on a record, it was Frank Zappa’s Apostrophe.”

He continued: “I remember hearing the wind starting on ‘Don’t Eat the Yellow Snow’ and being mesmerized. Also, to a 5-year-old, that song is hysterical: Don’t eat snow that dogs pissed in? My dad would play this album a lot in the house. He just loved Frank Zappa, and my parents were pretty young when I was born, in their early 20s, so they were like, ‘We’re going to just listen to what we want to listen to.'”

Looking back on that time and the realisation that Zappa was a required taste, not to mention for a child, he said: “It wasn’t until I started going to school and seeing what everyone else was listening to that I realised, ‘Oh, OK, no one listens to Frank Zappa’. It’s a super acquired taste. And while making my list of albums for this interview, I told friends that this was the first record I remember playing, and they were like, ‘Frank Zappa? Give me a fucking break.’ And I was like, ‘I’m serious, man!'”

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