“I think you’ve got the wrong guy…”
Tim Heidecker is talking to an unidentified journalist on a conference-call line. “Are you perhaps trying to interview Moshe Kasher?”
Heidecker is mired in the cycles of advanced press for the release of his new, “earnest” solo record In Glendale, an oh-so-subtle departure from the surreal, absurdist comedy he’s famous for by way of Tim and Eric’s Awesome Show, Great Job! But thanks to an unintentional gaffe by a publicist shared by both Heidecker and Kasher, as well as comedian Natasha Legerro, Heidecker can’t help but break the austerity with which he’s been decoding his more serious-minded new record.
When Kasher and Legerro call back into the conference line for their interview, Heidecker pounces, posing as an interviewer who doesn’t have a lot of time.
Natasha: Okay, so are we doing two interviews right now at the same time?
Unknown interviewer: I hope n…
Unknown Interviewer: ...ot…oh are we? Okay.
Tim: And I have the right of way here; I was the first person on this call…[long audible sigh]
Natasha: Okay, I’m happy to talk to both of you…[Moshe starts laughing]
Tim:....do you guys have like any aspirations to do Saturday Night Live?
Natasha: No, I don’t. I feel like I really love stand-up and I really love acting and…
Tim: [Long audible sigh]
Natasha: ...and people who are into sketch are monsters.
Moshe: She doesn’t really mean that. I don’t think either of us particularly have aspirations to do SNL. I…
Tim: Did you ever….um, like how did you get into comedy?
Natasha: I’m sorry, you’re asking us one question and then not letting us finish. Is this like a bad time, or what’s happening?
Heidecker finally reveals the goof, and Kasher and Legerro erupt into laughter. It’s a strange way to go into what is expected to be a pretty sincere, no-laughs interview with Heidecker, and a telling glimpse at the ease with which he is able to turn his comedic slyness off and on. Herein lies the quandary some fans of Heidecker’s have had since tracks from In Glendale first surfaced.
“Talking about it, promoting it is always a little painful,” explained Heidecker. “It’s not that I don’t enjoy talking to you, but I think this record has tended to get overanalyzed a little bit.”
It’s a forgivable sentiment. In Glendale sounds in equal parts like a ‘70s juke-joint send-up on the title track—a song in reverie of his suburban empire outside Los Angeles—muted work-a-day balladry on “I Dare You to Watch Me Sleep” and Bob Seger-esque on the standout track “Cleaning Up the Dogshit.” Yet despite the occasional, almost coincidental humor evident, Heidecker did not set out for this collection to live within his already teeming canon of comedic work, simply that it live alongside it.
“It could be interesting to me if people are wondering whether or not this is a joke, or if they’re convinced that it’s not a joke and that’s weird for them,” said Heidecker. “All that stuff seems consistent with my playbook anyway, so I’ll go with it, whichever way it goes.
“This will be something in my catalog that further colors the way people see the work I make. It’s interesting to have made a bunch of stuff now; people can start comparing it to other things, and what they prefer and what I should have done [laughs].”
It must be said that In Glendale is most certainly a passable, even oftentimes great album. And it’s also somewhat of a challenge if you’re at all familiar with Heidecker’s Andy Kaufmanisms. As tempting as it might be to apply an artifice of sneaky comedic sublimation to songs like “Work From Home,” it’s a stretch. The beauty in the song is the simplicity and universal understanding of the fucked-upedness of a mid-week hangover, which is funny at arm’s length anyway. Heidecker doesn’t supplant the inherent humor of that heavy-lidded scenario with unnecessary absurdist hyperbole.
Inspired as he is by songwriters like Van Morrison, Harry Nilsson, Randy Newman and Warren Zevon, Heidecker’s sonic homages were helped along by Foxygen’s Jonathan Rado, whose brand new imprint Rado Records—under the larger indie Jagjaguwar—is releasing the record. Rado performed on the album, as did Heidecker’s Heidecker and Wood counterpart Davin Wood and the LA-based band City City. A mean horn section and solid pocket-rhythm dot the musical landscape of In Glendale, which lyrically rarely deviates from the bold-but-banal subject matter of a 40-something writer—an Eddie and the Cruisers equivalent of reality rap, or at least a shout-out to bored new fathers in LA.
“There’s certainly going to be a segment of my audience that are in their 30s and 40s and are maybe having some of the same life experiences as me, so we can kind of all check in with each other a little bit here,” said Heidecker.
“It’s the kind of record that I hope you’d take a nice drive and listen to, or put it in the headphones. It’s not background music, you know? It’s meant to be a conversation, or at least a lecture from me to you.”