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Hold The Laughs: Comic Tim Heidecker's New Album, In Glendale, Is His Most Serious-Ish Work Yet 

Wednesday, Jun 1 2016

Tim Heidecker has funny down. Watch any episode of Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!, the surreal Adult Swim sketch comedy show created with longtime writing partner Eric Wareheim; On Cinema, his parodic film review web series; or Decker, his satirical online political thriller, and you'll be hard pressed not to laugh.

But can Heidecker be not funny?

In Heidecker's latest album of music, In Glendale, the comedian-writer-actor-director is trying to do just that. Unlike his previous spoof albums, which have parodied soft rock, Herman Cain's presidential campaign, Bob Dylan, and the Titanic, In Glendale is — surprisingly — rather sincere. In straightforward singer-songwriter fashion, Heidecker — who doesn't sound like he's trying to mimic anyone — carols about life in the City of Angels, drinking too much on a weeknight, and being flat broke.

Then again, he also sings about ghosts in his bed and good-looking babies, so the album is not entirely serious. But still, it's a good effort for someone who's made a living being one of (if not the) funniest guys in the room.

Speaking from his home — in Glendale — Heidecker chatted with SF Weekly about the album's name, finding time to work on side projects, and how videogames quell productivity.

This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.

SFW: Can you describe what Glendale is like?

Tim Heidecker: Glendale is very normal and the opposite of what you might think of, if you think of Hollywood or Beverly Hills or Santa Monica. It's a little more suburban, but it's very close to L.A. You can hop into downtown quickly and all the cool-kid neighborhoods. It also feels like it's where a lot of the people that make stuff live and go home to get some quiet time.

SFW: Other than the fact that you live in Glendale, did you also name your album after Glendale because no one else has done that yet?

TH: Yeah, I'm pretty good with titles, and when I come up with a good one it feels right. And that usually happens even before the album is finished being written. I knew it was going to be called In Glendale and that [the album] was going to piss people off because it's not funny.

SFW: In Glendale is your most sincere and least satirical and comedic album yet. Was that a goal going into it, or did you find yourself just naturally writing more genuine songs?

TH: I'm always writing music and little ditties and making voice memos and singing into my phone. So I think the first couple songs on the record were both written without any idea of what I was going to do with them just because I like writing music and it's kind of what I do when I'm sitting around the house. Then I was looking through my folders of other songs and realized, 'Oh, there's some songs here that aren't really that funny. Maybe I can put out a not-funny record? Maybe I can put something out that's straightforward?' So it was a little bit of both. Once I had a couple of these songs, that encouraged me to write more songs in that style.

SFW: The fact that you write songs in your free time makes me think you're not someone who spends his free time binge watching Netflix and playing videogames.

TH: Number one: If you want to do anything creative, limit your video-game play to very few hours a week. But I don't know, I can be incredibly lazy and my wife would attest to that. I procrastinate. But I do have bursts of work periods where I'm working a lot and making a lot of stuff. I don't consider it work because it's fun to do and I enjoy doing it. I prefer to be busy. Idle hands ... whatever the quote is.

SFW: Because you're also an actor and director, among other things, how do you find time to work on side projects?

TH: It's always something that I have to find time for amongst the other things I do because the other things I do provide me and my family a living. Those are the TV shows, the acting jobs, the directing gigs, and they all have to take precedence. So when I'm not busy with that stuff, I try to find time. Like, if I have a week available in April that's a good time for me to just try to knock out this record.

SFW: How long were you working on In Glendale?

TH: It was over the course of a few years in stops and starts. I think two years ago I was writing the music and building the demos and working with my collaborators and getting the actual thing made. And then it kind of sat around and I had to figure out how it was going to come out. And, luckily, Jagjaguwar Records came in and were like, 'We want to do this.' And then when that happens, it's like the clock goes back to zero again because they have their own timeline of when stuff's going to come out. And that's a long process. It's crazy. We agreed on something last summer and that took forever. It all eventually happens but when you're in the middle of it, you feel like this is never going to happen.

SFW: Even though In Glendale is a more serious album for you, there are still songs like "Cleaning Up Dog Shit" and "I Saw Nicholas Cage" that are impossible not to laugh at.

TH: Yes, absolutely. I like to say it's not an album without humor. But it's not ironic that I made it. It's not a joke that the record exists. It's not a parody of anything. But I think it can still be funny and you shouldn't feel weird laughing at certain things or smiling at least.

SFW: A lot of the record talks about L.A. What kind of image do you think you put forth of L.A. for someone who's viewing it through your eyes?

TH: This might not be apparent, but there is this arc. I start out in the beginning with the very positive, optimistic standpoint that L.A. is a great place. It's like, 'Why would anyone want to leave? The weather is always great and it's got culture, and it's got nature. It's really great!' And then by the end of the album with "Ocean's Too Cold," I'm singing about the people that come out here and fail and how you're by an ocean, but you can never use it because it's too cold. L.A. is such a complicated, dense subject to talk about, and it can be a sad lonely place, too. But at the same time, it's like I don't know where else I'd be. I wouldn't be in San Francisco, I'm sorry to say. Tim Heidecker and His Ten-Piece Band


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Jessie Schiewe


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