TIM HEIDECKER Not joking around. CARA ROBBINS

WHETHER IT'S the jingoist sendup "Our Values Are Under Attack" from web series Decker or the bizarre and indelible Cinco jingles from the Tim & Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! universe, music has long been an important pillar of Tim Heidecker's Kafka-esque comedy.

The comedian and musician's first "real" musical release was 2011's Starting from Nowhere, a collaboration with Awesome Show composer Davin Wood that confused listeners with its subtle ironic humor and straight-faced yacht-rock references (remember, this was a pre-Mac DeMarco world). Follow-up Some Things Never Stay the Same was a more explicit parody (see lead single "Cocaine," which is thematically identical to Eric Clapton's "Cocaine"). 

Heidecker's new record, In Glendale, borrows from a familiar pool of influences—'70s soft rockers like Bread, Steely Dan, Warren Zevon, and Randy Newman—but unlike the Heidecker & Wood records, it isn't intended to be funny.

"People might think my music is funny because there are a lot of things about music from that era that haven't aged well," says Heidecker. "But I have a lot of love for this music—I sincerely love Randy Newman and Warren Zevon." In Glendale's title track is a sun-kissed tribute to Heidecker's home of Glendale, California, which brings to mind similar Golden State paeans like Newman's "I Love LA" or Joni Mitchell's "California"—it's completely devoid of irony.

Unsurprisingly, Heidecker says one of the biggest challenges with promoting this new, "earnest" music is combatting the preconceived notion that everything he does is inherently funny. "It's a weird feeling when people laugh when there isn't a joke," says Heidecker, who compares In Glendale to The Comedy—a 2012 drama starring Heidecker that critics and Awesome Show diehards alike desperately tried to find the funny in, despite the fact that there isn't any.

"I think by now most of my audience can understand that I'm not the guy you see in spandex jumping around with Eric [Wareheim], or the guy with Gregg [Turkington] in the movie theater seats—those are just characters I come up with," says Heidecker. "It's much easier and much more fun to hide behind a persona, but at the same time there's something interesting to putting something out there in this way, and to challenge my audience, who maybe have a specific idea of who I am."