By Mike Ryan
CALGARY — Comedian and musician Tim Heidecker is infamous for his surreal satire, most notably as part of the duo Tim & Eric. But on May 20th he’ll be releasing In Glendale, a much more relatable, human work showing Heidecker at his realest. BeatRoute had the rare opportunity to speak with him out of character on the subject. Read on for a side of Heidecker that’s remained largely unseen. Questions and answers have been truncated for brevity.
BeatRoute: You’ve made this album available through Rado Records, with Jonathan Rado of Foxygen playing in your live incarnation. How did you guys link up?
Tim Heidecker: Jonathan is on Jagjaguwar and Chris Swanson (the label’s head) is a friend of mine who financed The Comedy amongst other things. He took me out for coffee one day and said, “What are you doing musically? It seems like you love to make music but everything you’ve done has been in the comedy world and satirical, and it would be interesting to hear something from you that was more serious.” I’d been thinking about doing that for a while and at least doing something that wasn’t sort of masked by a persona or a fake character. He threw out Rado’s name because he was interested in getting into producing more and working with other people. He and I met and we really clicked with similar tastes. We’re both huge fans of Warren Zevon, Randy Newman and other eclectic, kind of weird ‘70s singer-songwriters.
BR: They have a unique slant on storytelling.
TH: Exactly. But with a real love of melody and harmony and arrangement. So we connected on that and I said I’d love to make a record that’s really straight forward and well produced with these songs I’d been working on that are not necessarily all that funny—some of them are, some of them aren’t—and that’s how we kicked it off… He got it right away that I’m not an artist who’s very comfortable staying in one lane for too long, and the excitement about doing something that was gonna be murky and confusing was something that we embraced as not something to be worried about.
BR: So how long had you been sitting on this idea that you wanted to do a more serious album?
TH: I moved to Glendale about two and a half years ago and I was sitting in this house, a little bit bigger of a house than we had before, a sort of real ‘adult’ house with my baby who was a few months old and as I was sitting writing songs, I was just writing material that was more personal… [Glendale is] really where you go when you’re an adult. It’s like an adult city [laughs]. We moved there because the schools are good and there’s a yard and all that kind of stuff, so it did feel like it captured this growing up vibe that I’m going through.
BR: Are you feeling like it’s a challenge to show this side of yourself and have people accept it as such?
TH: Um, I knew it would be a problem and I’m happy to do my best to clarify it. I understand the confusion. I love playing with reality and will continue to do that. I guess this is the opposite of that… I think most people know that I’m a guy that makes stuff and it comes out in all different forms, and I’m hoping that maybe there’s a group of people that aren’t familiar with my comedy and come upon the record like any other musician and takes it for what it is. It doesn’t have to be this big backstory to it necessarily to access it.
BR: You worked with really talented musicians on the album. How did you all come together?
TH: Funny enough, it’s a good story. Most of them are in a band called City City. I met them a few years ago when they had sent Eric [Wareheim] and I a video of them covering a bunch of Awesome Show songs. They were really funny, really well done, technically accomplished versions of some songs. I wrote them a note saying how cool it was and ended up running into them at a show. I had been writing some songs for The Yellow River Boys, and I was thinking, I’m never gonna get this finished because I am not capable enough to make this music sound the way it should sound. It should sound like a really professional, glossy studio album. So I just asked Jeff in the band if they’d take my demos and arrange and produce this ‘90s Lynyrd Skynyrd rock group. They killed it and delivered in spades. I just kept in touch with them and they became my go to band.
BR: In support of this material, you have five dates so far. Are you planning to announce any more dates?
TH: We’re gonna do these initial dates to see if it works. I’d love to play more live because I love doing it and I think we put on a really good show. I mix in all different things from my back catalogue, and the band is really good as you can tell from the record. I was thinking this morning, ‘jeez, maybe I should advertise it as a podcast taping and we’d sell more tickets’ [laughs]. It’s a great show. We’re not fucking around on a couple of folding chairs with microphones [laughs]. It’s a professional show with a 10-piece band. It’s a pretty dynamic experience.
In Glendale comes out on May 20th through Rado Records. Tim Heidecker will play select West Coast dates including a stop at Sasquatch in support.AB, Alberta, In Glendale, Sasquatch 2016, Tim Heidecker