Sugar High Podcast: Two Hours with Tim Heidecker

Tim Heidecker © 2015

Atwood Magazine is excited to announce a new partnership series, Sugar High, formerly known as The Tour Manager’s Guide, a podcast by Danny Carissimi featuring various musicians and industry professionals as they talk about their life and career. The next episode features Tim Heidecker, originally of Tim and Eric fame.

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Philadelphia has produced many great things — one of which is not cheese whiz on a steak sandwich, that’s disgusting. Cheese Whiz-covered steak-bread aside, Philadelphia spawned Iverson (so Post Malone), Rocky, Atwood Magazine, and Tim and Eric. Tim and Eric met at Temple University in the late 90s. Originally they were there to make serious films, but their required short films turned into bizarre sketch comedy.

After college, Tim and Eric settled into normal jobs until Bob Odenkirk got his hands on a short they’d made and helped them land a development deal. Eventually they pitched The Tim and Eric Awesome Show Great Job to adult swim., and soared to comedic success. But that’s not the whole story. Prior to pursuing comedy Tim Heidecker wanted to be a musician. He even went so far as to start a band called the Tim Heidecker Masterpiece. It involved large props and an unpaid crew that built stages across NYC. Obviously, it was an expensive endeavor, and fell by the wayside when comedy came calling. But once Tim achieved success in comedy, he decided he wanted to continue making music.

He’s released albums under different monikers, one of the best being his Yellow River Boys, a Lynyrd Skynyrd-type cock rock group that wrote songs exclusively about their love of urine. It’s all been silly until his album In Glendale was released on a subsidiary of Dead Oceans last year.  In Glendale IS funny but it’s also serious and finds Tim coping with fatherhood and middle age. It’s also a fucking good record and leaves the listener wondering whether they should laugh or feel bad for Tim.

But where is all this coming from? It can’t ALL be a joke. Or is it? Is the joke on us? Is the joke on him? These questions have always consumed me as I’ve consumed Tim’s work. The more I watch the more confused I get (in a good way though; it’s still fun). So when my friend over at Secretly Group, Chris Swanson, asked if I wanted to interview anyone on his label I LEAPT I immediately said Tim Heidecker. Of course I assumed it wouldn’t happen. When he’s not acting in actual movie, movie’s he’s running a production company, writing sketches, performing around the country and raising a family. Why would he set aside an hour to hang out with a dumb shmoe like me. Well, whatever Chris said to him worked. Within an hour of Chris texting him he agreed and invited me to his house.

I learned about the interview when I was buying drinks at an over priced bar in Los Angeles and immediately changed my order to two overpriced beverages. Even then I was nervous. Would he be cool? Would he fuck with me? Is the joke on me? Is the joke on him? Is there even a joke at all?

When I drove up to the hills of Glendale to meet him at his house, the tension increased. All of which dissipated the minute he opened the door and explained he’d just burned his hand cooking lamb. He then proceeded to ask me if I liked lamb and strongly suggested I get the lamb at Trader Joe’s. He offered me whiskey and explained that he normally didn’t drink but he needed something to sooth the burn.

His in-laws were present and we said hi then he took me down to his man cave / studio. Tim lives an extraordinarily normal suburban life; albeit in a cool house — but it’s very normal. He helped me set up the gear and showed off his guitars. I was stoked. Normally I write my interview questions down the night before, bring them, and then don’t use them at all on the spot. It’s all just part of research so that I can guide this thing into something worth listening to. But with Tim I knew my time was limited and I needed to get to the good stuff so I actually memorized my questions. It had a positive and negative affect. I feel it reduced the amount of sincere conversation we were having like most my episodes, but on the positive side it focused things into a tight interview.

When we finished he popped up, said he had to put his kids to bed and let me show myself out. As with every interview I conduct I walked away wishing I’d asked this or that, but all-in-all I was happy with what I got. He was subdued and sincere. So much so that at times the interview was veering towards stale and I had to change the subject. I guess the Jekyll and Hyde nature of most comedians certainly applies to Tim.

Either way, he’s an incredible guy and prolific. Listening to how he structures his day and dedicates his time to projects he knows not many people will even check out is inspiring. He works because it’s what he loves but he also approached it all with a clear headed, sober mentality.


I hope you enjoy the episode. Next week is Jen from Bleached. We discuss women in punk rock, Mika Miko, and what it’s like to pursue punk as a profession. Here’s a hint: it’s fucking hard.

 

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