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‘Parks and Rec’ Co-Star Adam Scott Was a High School Deadhead

Adam Scott

This fall, actor Adam Scott will lead a stacked cast in the film A.C.O.D., which features Richard Jenkins and Jessica Alba, among others, while also eliciting awkwardly endearing laughs as Ben Wyatt on NBC’s Parks and Recreation. Scott, 40, hopped on the phone while driving in Los Angeles to gab about his life in music. But don’t worry: He pulled over to talk.

Were you listening to anything in your car?
I took my daughter to school this morning and she loves Katy Perry. We listened to the new single, “Roar.” It’s not something I’d listen to without her but that chorus is amazing. I love a good poppy chorus. Then we listened to Perry’s “Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)” and the moment my daughter is old enough to piece together what that one’s about — getting fucked up and having sex with strangers and feeling pretty good about it — I’ll need to get it away from her as soon as possible.

I guess that’s something you have to think about once you have children.
Oh, for sure. Then I played her “Stiletto” by Billy Joel. I always try to sneak in something of mine with my kids in the car.

What was the last concert you went to?
The last concert I went to was a Phish show. Some of my friends do a podcast called Analyze Phish and I was just on it. I used to be into the Grateful Dead so I understand the Phish thing. It was at the Hollywood Bowl and ended up being super fun. It reminded me of Dead shows I used to go to when I was a teenager. You can’t really go wrong with the general vibe of happy and stoned people listening to music they love.

Did your parents object to anything you were listening to when you were growing up?
My parents were pretty cool about letting me listen to whatever I wanted. The only objection might have been playing music too loud. They were into Jimmy Buffett, Cat Stevens and, of course, the Beatles. My brother really shaped my musical taste when I was younger. He turned me on to classic rock like Led Zeppelin and then he got me into R.E.M. and U2.

You mentioned listening to the Grateful Dead. When did your Deadhead phase start?
When “Touch of Grey” became the big hit I kind of rode that wave and started digging deeper and getting into their older stuff. I think Workingman’s Dead and American Beauty are both perfect records. They aren’t really known for their studio records but I actually prefer them. The long jams have never really been my thing.

Did you get a dancing bear tattoo or anything?
[Laughs] No. It was all pretty rudimentary. I probably went to like 10 Dead shows and wore it as my identity for a while. I had the tie-dye and grew my hair long. I had a peace sign earring.

What’s the name of a mix or playlist on your phone?
I tend to attach dates to my playlists so that I know what phase of my life I was in or where I was when I made it. Really, I just keep the titles easy so they aren’t hard to search for. One I love is called “Live Athens ’92” which is a show R.E.M. did in Athens, Georgia in 1992. It comes from a period they were not playing live. It’s a nice little time capsule.

Are you down with the entire R.E.M. catalog?
I think there’s a lot there that’s really great and people tend to overlook those albums. I think Up is a great album, but if I could shave just a couple songs off it would be even greater. I also think Accelerate is amazing. Did you like Accelerate?

I’ll have to go back and listen. I would always just ask my dad if one of those last records was worth listening to.
Can I just say: Go fuck yourself.

My dad’s got good taste!
How old are you?

I’m 26.
Well, that makes sense. You don’t give a shit about R.E.M.

There’s a Parks and Recreation scene where Aubrey Plaza’s character is stuck in your character’s car with you and your entire musical collection is soundtracks. Do you have a favorite soundtrack album?
I love the Life Aquatic soundtrack with Seu Jorge doing the David Bowie covers. The Grosse Pointe Blank soundtrack is another good one. Cliff Martinez’s Solaris score is totally great. His Drive soundtrack is incredible.

Do you have a go-to karaoke song?
I have a terrible singing voice. I usually do “Rhinestone Cowboy” for some reason, probably because of my range, which doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.

Whose music has got you through a breakup or dark time?
Well, I got to meet Beck a couple years ago and he was really great to talk to. I was MCing a Hurricane Sandy relief benefit he was playing and I got to introduce him. 20 years ago I was so into his album One Foot in the Grave, which was before he hit big. I listened to that record so much when I was living in a hot little studio apartment in Hollywood when I had no work and no money. It was really tough, but that album makes 20 years ago feel like two weeks ago. It’s so crazy.