Jul 15, 2022 - Things to Do

Tim Heidecker talks Philly, nostalgia and coming home

Photo illustration of Tim Heidecker with Philadelphia and abstract shapes.
Photo illustration: Maura Losch. Photo: Sean Mathis/Getty Images for SXSW.

Tim Heidecker is coming home to Philly in two weeks' time — for one night only, anyway.

Why it matters: You probably know him (alongside Eric Wareheim) as part of the absurdist comedy duo Tim & Eric, who got their start after meeting at Temple in the '90s.

  • Heidecker's comedy presence remains truly vast — there's a massive universe around his "On Cinema" series — but he's also made a name for himself with some sardonic yet serious indie rock in the vein of Randy Newman and Warren Zevon.

State of play: Heidecker, now based in Los Angeles, is bringing his "Two Tims Tour" to The Fillmore on July 29: half stand-up from his boorish comedy persona; half indie jams, backed by his latest album "High School," inspired by nostalgia from growing up in Allentown.

  • We made nostalgia the focus of our chat with Heidecker earlier this week.

Q: Even though it's only for one night, how does it feel coming back to Philly? Does it even register with such a punishing tour schedule?

A: "There's ownership that that audience has knowing that I'm coming home. Especially with the new record, I sing a lot about those times. I think there's pride from the audience that I'm doing well and succeeding at this. I think there's a little bit of bitter anger because I no longer root for the Phillies. I mean, I don't say I don't root for the Phillies, but I've kind of become a Dodgers fan."

Q: You played shows at places like Khyber Pass Pub and North Star Bar as you were coming up. Now, you're playing at a 2,500-capacity venue in The Fillmore. What does that feel like?

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 diarrhea jokes. It was like a full-on opera house. It was just absurd. It was gilded and totally way too nice for our material. So yeah, it is a bit weird. ...

  • "The idea of scaling up and playing bigger places I think has been gradual and slow and just happened over years. This tour is actually a bit of a downgrade from the Tim & Eric tours because those are generally kind of bigger places. ... There's still something fun about playing a small, sweaty, s--tty rock club for sure. But it's hard to do that every night."

Q: What do you miss about your Philly days?

A: "I talk about this a lot on the record — the idea of idle time, not having a tremendous amount of responsibility, not being addicted to our devices and distracted by screens. Just like going down to the river and f--king around for a while. Or going out and playing pool at a bar on South Street. Or going to Dirty Frank's and having a shot of Jim Beam and a can of beer for three bucks. And that was the day.

  • "That was considered doing things. They're just very simple."

Q: You have a song with Philly indie legend Kurt Vile on the new record. How did that come about? Was it a Philly thing?

A: "I'm trying to think of how we actually met, but sort of through Instagram. Maybe a couple of DMs here and there, like mutual appreciation. I like to call this little thing that happens 'frands,' like we're friends who are fans of each other.

  • "We just started talking. I sent him my last record 'Fear of Death,' an early mix of it, and was like, 'Hey, I want to see what you think of this.' He raved about how much he liked it and was really very supportive of my music. We just kept in touch.
  • "I had this song on the record that I felt was evocative of his music. I said I'd love to have him on it in some way, like do a guitar solo — and he was down and so happy to help."

Q: Your hometown of Allentown is another huge presence on the record. How important is the concept of home to your music?

A: "I think the older I get, especially during the pandemic, I just had sort of self-therapy — an experiment in thought — to think about what I was like back then, what I wanted to be and what I was into. Am I different than I was? It just unlocked a bunch of thoughts about those times.

  • "My childhood was very normal, and thinking about it now, things are so unmoored and chaotic and unsettled in the world that there's a nostalgia for that period of my life. It felt simpler and more grounded. It seemed stabler and happier in general. I know it seems dangerous to say things were better way back when because in a lot of ways they weren't.
  • "But certainly in the '90s it felt like there was a strain of liberalism running through culture that felt pretty protected and safe — like, oh yeah, Michael Stipe is on MTV talking about the environment and gay rights. That was important, and I miss those days in a way."

Q: Are there any other albums or songs that touch on the concept of home that mean a lot to you?

A: "There's certain music that I think will forever bring me back to a place. Sometimes it's weird stuff, like the blue Weezer album. I don't think I could ever hear that without thinking about freshman year of college because that's basically one of the four records I listened to. That feels like a weird record to bring out of nowhere, but it's nostalgic in a very, very, very specific way."

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

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