Tim Heidecker is going back to Philadelphia in two weeks – for one night only, anyway.
Why is this important: You probably know him (alongside Eric Wareheim) as part of the absurd comedy duo Tim & Eric, who got their start after meeting at Temple in the 90s.
- Heidecker’s comedic presence remains truly expansive — there’s a massive universe around his “On Cinema” series — but he’s also made a name for himself with sardonic yet earnest indie rock in the vein of Randy Newman and Warren Zevon.
State of play: Heidecker, now based in Los Angeles, brings his “Two Tims Tour” to the Fillmore on July 29: half stand-up of his crude comedy persona; semi-independent jams, backed by his latest album “High School”, inspired by the nostalgia of growing up in Allentown.
- We made nostalgia the focus of our conversation with Heidecker earlier this week.
Q: Even if it’s only for one night, what’s it like to come back to Philadelphia? Does he even fit in with such a grueling touring schedule?
A: “There’s a property this audience has of knowing that I’m coming home. Especially with the new record, I sing a lot about that era. I think the audience is proud that I’m successful and successful. I think there’s a bit of bitter anger because I don’t cheer for the Phillies anymore. I mean, I’m not saying I don’t cheer for the Phillies, but I kind of became a Dodgers fan.
Q: You played shows at places like Khyber Pass Pub and North Star Bar as you were going up. Now you’re playing in a 2,500 seat venue at The Fillmore. What does it do?
A: “The last time Eric and I were in town we played at the Met, which was ridiculous. It was like Carnegie Hall. It’s a place to see Mahler’s 9th Symphony – not jokes about diarrhea. It was like a full house opera. It was just absurd. It was golden and totally too good for our material. So yeah, it’s kind of weird. …
- “The idea of scaling up and playing bigger places, I think, was gradual and slow and happened over the years. This tour is actually a bit of a step back from the tours from Tim & Eric because they’re usually bigger places. …There’s always something fun about playing in a sweaty little rock club, that’s for sure. But it’s hard to do that every evening.
Q: What do you miss about your days in Philadelphia?
A: “I talk about that a lot on the record – the idea of downtime, not having a lot of responsibilities, not being addicted to our devices and distracted by screens. Just like going to the river and f-king or go out and play pool at a South Street bar, or go to Dirty Frank’s and have a glass of Jim Beam and a can of beer for three bucks.
- “It was considered doing things. It’s just very simple.”
Q: You have a song with Philadelphia indie legend Kurt Vile on the new record. How did it happen? Was it a Philly thing?
A: “I’m trying to think of how we met, but sort of via Instagram. Maybe a few DMs here and there, like mutual appreciation. I like to call that little thing that’s happening ‘frands ‘, as we’re friends who are fans of each other.
- “We just started talking. I sent him my latest record ‘Fear of Death’, an early mix of it, and I was like, ‘Hey, I want to see what you think.’ He said how much he loved it and was really, really supportive of my music, and we just stayed in touch.
- “I had this song on the record that I thought was reminiscent of his music. I said I’d like to have it somehow, like do a guitar solo – and he was depressed and so happy to help.”
Q: Your hometown of Allentown is another big presence on the record. How important is the concept of home in your music?
A: “I think the older I get, especially during the pandemic, I just had a kind of self-therapy – a thought experiment – to reflect on what I was at the time, what I wanted to be and what I was in. Am I different from what I was?
- “My childhood was very normal, and looking back now, things are so grounded and chaotic and unstable in the world that there is a nostalgia for that time in my life. It was simpler and more grounded. seemed more stable and happier overall.I know it seems dangerous to say things were better back then, because in many ways they weren’t.
- “But certainly in the 90s, it felt like there was a strain of liberalism running through the culture that felt pretty sheltered and safe – like, oh yeah, Michael Stipe is on MTV talking about the environment and gay rights. It was important, and I kind of miss those days.”
Q: Are there any other albums or songs that evoke the concept of home that mean a lot to you?
A: “There’s certain music that I think will forever take me back to a place. Sometimes it’s weird stuff, like Weezer’s blue album. I don’t think I could ever hear that without thinking about freshman year of college because it’s basically one of four records I’ve listened to. It sounds like a weird record out of nowhere, but it’s nostalgic in a very, very, very specific way.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.