Archiving Andy

Talk shows, erotica, visual art and music make Andy Eppler Longmont’s Gonzo renaissance man

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Ando the Artist, Feb 16, 2022
MATT MAENPAA

On a recent trip to Texas, Andy Eppler found himself stoned and tripping on a small dose of acid at 3 a.m. in Denver International Airport. With an empty airport at his disposal and hours to kill before his flight, Eppler started filming at strange angles with an eye on sacred geometry.

Branching beyond the life of a working musician, as many around the county have known him, these days Eppler is embracing a holistic approach to art. While he still plays music, Eppler has delved into filmmaking, painting and hosting homespun talk shows to understand himself and offer his own brand of strange love to the world around him.

Eppler didn’t plan on making a movie, he was just flying back to Austin. But the pot, the acid and eerie solitude of DIA spoke to him. So, he got out his phone and started filming, capturing the moments when the airport started coming back to life in the early morning.

“There are beautiful little things lining up. That whole airport was built by the Masons, so everything is super geometric,” Eppler says over coffee at a cafe in Longmont, flurries swirling in the frigid air. “It’s super easy to set up these shots.”

Eppler’s art films are shot entirely on his phone and amount to more than a half-dozen shorts since 2018. The films are just another artistic exploration for him—raw, unapologetic a little surreal. The inspiration of an acid tablet and an empty airport is par for the course for a man who made more than 400 episodes of The Hippie Report, a stream-of-conscious one-man show often filmed naked in his bathtub with a joint on his lips.

The films—along with The Hippie Report and Boulder County Tonight, Eppler’s election-season late-night show—are an opportunity to put his whole self on display. For Eppler, there is no character to play, no persona, just one man continuously putting himself out in the world for all to see. That includes starring in several films with Denver film company Spark Erotic, as well as making the music for them.

“They wrote a film for me to be in, so I starred in an erotic film. I played myself—one of my only stipulations was no fake name. I’m not embarrassed of what I’m doing,” Eppler explains. “And I wanted to do the music. I’m not going to do a sex movie without also doing the music for it. I want to make sex music.”

MAENPAA Ando the Artist, Feb 16, 2022, photo by Matt Maenpaa

While he says it’s certainly fun to make an erotic film, it’s also incredibly challenging for him. 

After just over a decade playing music in Colorado, first as part of roots-Americana duo The Prairie Scholars and then as a solo act, Eppler’s spent the past few years exploring his other artistic interests. Paintings, film, photography and erotica are all just stones on the path that leads to “Ando the Artist”—it all comes from a place of vulnerability and a desire to put his whole self out there. But Eppler’s salacious and substance-infused ambling toward a strange future can’t happen without a sojourn to the past.

The flight back to Texas was more than just an opportunity for making a new film, but a homecoming for Eppler. His alma mater, Texas Tech University, is adding his music and art to their archives.

“Soon I’ll be the only person on Earth who has their art in the archives of Texas Tech University and their film purchased by the London Sperm Bank,” Eppler says with a laugh.

Eppler has been pouring through album art, handwritten lyrics and more, quite literally indexing his past for the archives.

“I don’t believe the universe is sentient, but if it were, the message I would assume it’s sending me is to expand and explore more,” Eppler opins. “It’s literally putting my music career in a museum.”

Eppler finds poignancy in the message, recalling feeling isolated and unappreciated in his hometown, musing that perhaps his absence has made hearts grow fonder. Eppler’s taking it as an opportunity for closure of a chapter of his life.

Eppler also acknowledges the honor of having his work added to the archives alongside esteemed alumni artists like Waylon Jennings and Buddy Holly. He’s not emotionally connected to the archive or his alma mater, Eppler says, but he’s proud to have his work there.

And Eppler isn’t giving up music. From writing soundtracks for his own films, as well as more work with Spark Erotic, Longmont’s renaissance man keeps writing and recording songs. His new project is more of an EP than Eppler’s 2020 Brokedown Deluxe, a 30-track project that took three years to come together. 

“I’m just going to do EPs from now on, I think. Just little bites,” Eppler says.

Like Eppler’s films, the new music is a brief exploration of mood and desires, born of a need to have his music grow alongside the rest of his artistic self. The five-track EP is titled Lonely Disco: Lust Letters to my Friends, a collection of songs about sex and relationships. 

One track, “It Rolls Like Thunder,” is a bombastic piece of ’70s soul with a throbbing bass line and an almost orchestral chorus. Eppler’s voice conjures a growling Tom Jones as he croons out an ode to worshiping a partner, rejoicing in the connection.

“You know I wish I could dream about you / Just about you / So I wake up every day just to touch you,” Eppler purrs through the opening of the track.

To celebrate the nexus of his past and present, Eppler wanted to throw a party. To ease the burden, Eppler brought in his friend AJ Foxx and her event planning business, Sobremesa Creative Solutions. Foxx, a professional model and event organizer, connected with Eppler a few years back, considering herself both a friend and a huge fan. 

“I’ve been Andy’s friend for a long time. This kind of work has a high turnover in friends, but we stuck it out,” Foxx says. “It’s great he’s expanding beyond the idea of being just a musician.”

Both Foxx and Eppler agreed the ideal venue for the show would be Longmont’s Abbott & Wallace Distilling. Eppler has graced the stage of the craft distillery on numerous occasions, often haunting it even when he isn’t playing. 

The pair want to be sure that it won’t be just a gallery showing, but a proper experience. Eppler’s erotica may make an appearance, as well as a few colleagues and friends from Spark Erotic, but he assured the public (and the distillery owners) that no sexual activity would be on display. 

True to his brand, the two-day art show offers up a sampler-pack of Eppler’s art, music and the debut of his latest efforts, Denver International Airport and Lonely Disco. Prints, vinyl, old Prairie Scholars merch and Andy’s new strange things will be offered up for sale before he sticks his Texas roots in the archive. 

ON THE BILL: “Ando the Artist: A Multimedia Art Show Weekend” runs March 25 and 26, from 5-9 p.m. at Abbott & Wallace, 250 Terry St., Suite 120, Longmont, with The Wolf Authentic Mexican Food truck parked both nights. Joining Eppler will be local musical acts Jackson Cloud on Friday, with Oopsie and the Daisies taking the stage Saturday.

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