The musical comedy team makes sweet honey from AM
BY RANDY HARWARD
Once music reaches a
popularity apex, it wears out its welcome and becomes lame. In time, it sneaks
back into our good graces in stages: ironically cool, retro cool. Finally, it
reaches a level just north of cool, but perhaps south of its original esteem, where
irony and nostalgia factor in, but not guilt. See: 1980s pop and hair metal.
And now: AM-radio gold, aka 1970s soft rock, recently championed by the likes
of David Vandervelde, Rilo Kiley, and now Heidecker & Wood.
Heidecker is the Tim in Tim and Eric, Awesome Show Great Job!,
and Davin Wood is the show’s composer. Fans of the Adult Swim comedy see where
this is going. “[1970s soft rock] is kinda fun, trying to figure out how to make
all those sounds and that mood, that vibe,” says Heidecker. “But you can laugh
at it and love it at the same time.”
So on Starting From Nowhere (Little Record Company), the duo-joined by
Rilo Kiley’s Pierre de Reeder and Jason Boesel-weaves a smooth soft rock
tapestry, using natural and romantic wonders, fretless bass, major seventh
chords. And, of course, they gently apply the absurdist humor that fuels Awesome Show. Heidecker agreed to do
some breezy soft rock free-associations on the genre’s musical and metaphorical
charms as well as its noteworthy hits.
What constitutes a good soft rock tune? “Obviously, there’s a good side to being technically
proficient… A great vocal that’s possibly a high, angelic, male voice, and a
good rhythm track that just feels like sitting in a comfortable chair.”
Christopher Cross, “Arthur’s Theme (Best That You Can
Do)”: “Oh, yeah. Just saccharine-y.
Great tune, great song. It’s so caught in its own arrangement. It’s so dated by
the way it sounds.”
Steely Dan, “Hey Nineteen”: “Steely Dan’s great ‘cause they have this funky, ‘70s
Fender Rhodes kinda sound. It seems like it could really be pussy music, but
lyrically it’s always really kinda snarky and smart.”