Fans loved Adam Devine's character Bumper Allen in Pitch Perfect so much that he won the Teen Choice Award for Best Villain, beating out Tom Hardy's Bane. But in Pitch Perfect 2, out today, Bumper has changed his evil ways and become a doting romantic love interest to Rebel Wilson's Fat Amy. Devine's rambunctious singing skills are on display again, reminding us that the Workaholics star has some impressive pipes. Devine, who also has The Intern with Robert De Niro on deck for later this year, called us to discuss his love of singing, his hatred of karaoke, and why the Wizards, a band that seemingly consists of him and his Workaholics co-stars, may or may not release another album.
What was the first time you ever sang in public?
I had to do an alphabet song when I was a little kid. I was supposed to step down to the microphone and say the words. I was letter "I," as in "VIP," and I had to say, "I'm very important, especially to me." And then I would sing a little song. But instead of singing into the microphone I kicked over the microphone stand, jumped into the crowd, and started singing it. That was my first taste of pop stardom.
That sounds about right.
Yeah, I was a real monster.
Did you always know you were good at singing?
No. Only because my dad definitely didn't ever support that. He thought I sucked. He still thinks I suck—I don't get it. I'm like, "The world doesn't think so Dad so obviously you're wrong." He's like, "You don't sound good." I'm like, "I'm on the soundtrack! People like my singing voice." He's like, "Don't get it. Not a fan." So he was never supportive of me singing so I didn't really know. But then in high school they wanted me to be in the choir because I could sing well. I was pretty preoccupied with having girls let me touch their breasts so I figured choir wasn't the right spot to feel the boobs that I wanted to feel.
You know there were probably a lot of girls in choir, right?
I kind of blew it. I think that was the spot because I had little else going on—no real athletic ability. That could have been my in.
Has your dad seen Pitch Perfect?
Yeah. He gave me a "You didn't suck half as bad as I thought you would."
If someone was nervous about singing in public, what advice would you give them?
The thing about singing is that if you're having fun while doing it then people will have fun watching you do it. Like in karaoke if you're like "I don't think I can do it" and then you sing a song and you look terrified people will say, "Poor guy or poor girl, get offstage. You're killing us." But if you get onstage and you don't sing that well but you give it your all, people will be like, "Yeah, I'll chug beer to this!"
Do you go to karaoke?
I don't. Truthfully, I don't love it. Actually, I hate karaoke. Karaoke sucks. But some people like it and more power to them.
I was going to ask if you have a go-to karaoke song, but...
I usually just sing a classic to get the crowd into, like "Sweet Caroline" or some bullshit. Just so everyone will sing along with me. But mostly I just go to drink beer.
When Pitch Perfect blew up and everyone bought the soundtrack, do you think any fans discovered your group the Wizards?
I don't know if that really drove people to the Wizards or not. If so, I wonder what 13-year-old girls we scared. Just terrifying them. But I don't think we saw a huge uptick in sales. It wasn't like we were all of sudden Billboard's Hot 200 or whatever.
Do you think the Wizards will make another album?
Well, I can't speak for the Wizards. As you know, we are not the Wizards. We are just friends of theirs. They open up a portal from another realm and sometimes they let us take a sneak peek. So they're in a complete other realm, living their lives as gangster-rapping wizards. But we hope so because quite frankly we're all huge fans.
Sorry, I forgot that it's a very complicated narrative with them.
Yeah, it is. People are like, "Oh no, that's you guys." And yeah it's weird that there are people that look almost identical to us with awesome beards and cool outfits who sing as gangster-rapping wizards. Just because they happen to look like us doesn't mean that it's us. They came from another dimension and opened up a portal and have become friends with us. They reached out to us, which was very sweet of them because we're such fans. And they're fans of Workaholics, too, so it's mutual love.
Do you have a musical idol?
I like rock stars, like Iggy Pop or David Bowie. Someone that's so weird that you're like, "What an alien!" I feel rock stars should be weird. They should be aliens. Where did this person come from, he's not normal! It's either Iggy Pop or David Bowie or R. Kelly. They're all insane. R. Kelly is the best. He does not get as much love and respect as he deserves. He deserves all of it. He's a genius.
When you knew you were going back to do the Pitch Perfect sequel did you have something you wanted for Bumper?
I got exactly what I wanted. I wanted to go down the road of the love interest with Rebel Wilson's character Fat Amy. When they asked if I'd be willing to come back I was like, "Yeah, what if we get them together?" And they were like, "That's what we were thinking!" And then we high-fived over the phone.
How does that work?
It's a lot of "What are you doing?" They're like, "I'm high-fiving the air!" I'm like, "Oh good I'm high-fiving the air too!" You can't see or hear it.
I really felt for Bumper in the scene where he makes a grand romantic gesture. Have you ever done anything like that?
Yeah, in high school, for my 16-year-old girlfriend. I made her a song. I sang it to her a capella in a video I recorded and then gave it to her. She thought it was sweet. It was an insane song. It was an insane thing to do. She liked it because we were so young and naïve that we didn't know it was an insane thing to do. And then she showed all of her friends and they all made fun of me for two years. That taught me to never be romantic ever again.
Could that video end up on YouTube?
It sure could. I don't know where it is. I hope Chelsea doesn't up and release that. I haven't talked to her in a few years. Chelsea, please destroy the tape.
Chelsea, if you're out there, let's get this online. Esquire would be happy to premiere it.
Yes, let's get that tape—and then destroy it.
Are these movies making a capella cool?
No. It's not cool. But what's cool about it is that I think it's making it so that people who want to a capella can. People like me. In high school I was worried about it not being a cool thing, like "I want girls to like me so I don't want to do something that's not cool." But, in fact, if you do something you like to do and you're good at it, you're going to find someone who will like you for that reason. Which is a better reason than not making the basketball team every year because you suck.
Are you saying you tried out for the basketball team a lot?
Every year! I never made it.
That's kind of sad.
It was. They just wouldn't put me on it. I would plead with the coach. He's like, "You're just not good enough." I'm like, "It's because I haven't practiced enough." He's like, "You're not on the team." I'm like, "Exactly. If I was, I would be better." He's like, "This isn't how it works."
Have you started working on the next season of Workaholics yet?
No, we start up in about a month. We're excited to keep it moving and shaking. I'm leaving on Monday to go shoot a movie called Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates. I play Mike and Zac Efron plays Dave. We shoot in Hawaii until August. I'm really excited. It's going to be the best.
When you stand next to Zac Efron and you see his body, how do you feel?
Horrible. I am literally going to an appointment right now with a nutritionist. I hired Chris Pratt's personal trainer and his nutritionist to get in shape. I've lost 15 pounds. I went from 18 percent body fat to nine percent in a month and a half. I'm doing it!
Emily ZemlerEmily Zemler is a freelance writer based in London.
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