Discover more from Volatile Weekly
Interview with Tonight's Hero
What got you into music, and if you had not gotten into music what would you be doing today?
ALEX: For me, it was the movie School of Rock. No joke. That is 100% true. I saw that movie and thought, “I have to be doing that.” So I got a cheap starter acoustic guitar for my 14th birthday and never stopped playing. If it weren’t for that 2003 Jack Black cinematic masterpiece, I would probably sell umbrella insurance like my father and his father before him.
TIM: Similar sentiment, but for me it was the 1996 Tom Hanks film “That Thing You Do!” I was super into early 60s music as a result of my parents, and this film and the accompanying soundtrack were a big influence on me. But along with Alex, “School of Rock” was a big moment. I had just gotten my first electric guitar at my Catholic Confirmation when that movie came out, and was listening to a lot of the hard rock featured on that film’s soundtrack. The rock and roll history montage scene set to The Ramones got scratched into my soul. If it weren’t for music, I’d probably either be an astronaut or chef on TV.
What do you like to do when you are not playing music and how does that influence your creativity?
ALEX: We’ve always been film buffs. We’re constantly sharing movie and TV recommendations. There is so much amazing content out there and not nearly enough time to take it all in. When you see something so masterfully crafted, it ignites that thing inside that forces us to pick up the guitar and write something down. Tim always seems to find great reads as well. Often, characters and situations from books make it into our lyrical themes. Tracks like “Ask Me If I Care (’79)” and “________” are heavily inspired by books. Even our band name comes from a book! We’ll leave it to you to figure out where they come from.
TIM: I don’t spend nearly as much time reading as I should, but when a book takes me over, it’s just about the best feeling in the world. I love books that either incorporate music and musicians into the plot, or just greatly inform the author. Lately, I have been enthralled by the world of Adam Gnade.
How long has your band been around?
ALEX: Technically, we were established in 2009. But there was a solid decade of inactivity for this project. We weren’t really seriously making music until 2021.
Where are you based out of and how did that influence your music?
TIM: We first met and began playing music in Bloomington-Normal, IL, but life has taken us in several directions since. I have been in Sacramento for the past decade, and Alex moved to Nashville in 2021.
How did you come up with the name of your band and what does it mean to you?
ALEX: It comes from a book. There was something about the idea of a “hero,” which we think of as a permanent fixture in society, but marking it as only temporary. Like it’s disposable. It’s like we’re saying, “this one is tonight’s hero, tomorrow there might be something else.”
TIM: “Single-serving hero” didn’t have quite the same ring to it.
Tell me about your most memorable shows.
ALEX: I’ll never forget the first time we heard audience members sing our own lyrics back to us. Granted, the audience was family and friends. But it was moving nevertheless.
What is your favorite venue to play at, and do you have any places you want to play that you have not already?
TIM: If I could play the San Francisco Fillmore at some point in my life, I would be a happy man. I’ve seen a lot of great acts there, and it is just filled with so much rock and roll history. Any time that I go, I try and get there early enough to grab a beer and stare at the posters in the upstairs lounge. I never get tired of it.
ALEX: Exit/In in Nashville is my favorite. It’s a really cool venue with such rich history. There are some legendary acts who’ve shared that stage.
If you could play any show with any lineup, who would be on the ticket?
TIM: It’s hard to not pick something like The Beatles or The Clash or Nirvana just because they won’t ever play a show again, but I think a really fun lineup for us would be to join would be Weezer, Green Day, Oasis, blur, something of that ilk. I think we would fit nicely with those mid-to-late-nineties groups, not because we’re aiming to rehash what those bands have done, but more to put music from the past that we love through a more modern lens.
What is some advice that you would give to someone who is just getting into playing in a band and some advice that you would give to your younger self?
TIM: If you want to do this, do it. Don’t hold anything back, devote yourself to your craft and do what you need to do to make it happen. Don’t let your life be ruled by “what ifs.”
ALEX: Stop being your harshest critic. Just enjoy the process and absorb as much as possible along the way.
If you could go back in time and give yourselves advice, what would it be?
TIM: Don’t go see Spider-Man 3.
Of your songs which one means the most to you and why?
ALEX: When we finished “Nothing New Under the Sun” it felt like a new creative bar had been set for us. That one really had us motivated. I got chills when I heard the final mix for the first time.
Which songs are your favorite to play and which get requested the most?
ALEX: One of my favorites is “Why Panic?” Those choruses are are so much fun to hear the whole band on. It’s got a great energy and let’s us show off our dynamics.
What is the creative process for the band, and what inspires you to write your music?
TIM: For the most part, I’ll get a melody and some lyrics stuck in my head and ignore the whole world until I can _______
ALEX: I just wait until Tim gets that melody out of his head and sends me another 30-second voice memo. I add fluff. He adds fluff. And suddenly we’ve got a fully-realized song.
What kinds of messages do you like to get across in your music?
ALEX: Human emotion is such a complex and beautiful thing. This concept of a shared human experience fueled by love, regret, fear, and envy. And unavoidable crippling nostalgia. Memory can be a fickle thing. With each passing year we lose more of what made our youth so memorable. We are all on this terrifying ride, but at least we’re all together. Time is the biggest goon of all.
TIM: Despair, mostly.
Do you ever have disagreements in your band, and how do you get past them?
ALEX: Do we ever not have disagreements? As with any creative and collaborative endeavor, there will always be disagreements. We often try to take some time to sit with the controversial changes and see if we can compromise. It’s all about learning to pick your battles and when to let things go. But in the end, the song is better for it.
TIM: I disagree with everything Alex just said.
What are your plans for the future, and do you have anything that you want to spotlight that is coming up?
ALEX: We always have a million things want to work on. The hardest thing is finding the time. We have a new single we’d like to wrap up. And a couple EPs and an album in the works. So definitely follow on Instagram for updates there! Tons of new stuff on the way. As well some shows we’re in the process of booking.