I first discovered the Epilogues in 2007 when they took the stage the same night as a friend’s band. Their high-energy performance and alternative rock sound (à la the Killers) made for a fun—if slightly ear-piercing—show. I followed them on and off, and was pleasantly surprised to hear their single, “Hunting Season,” on the radio last year. Turns out, the Denver-based group (Chris Heckman, vocals/guitar; Nate Hammond, keys; Jason Hoke, drums; and Jeff Swoboda, bass) has been busy. This week, they’re releasing an emotionally charged, 13-song album, Cinematics. Its success stems from the band’s more grown-up, subdued style, which is less about mimicking other bands and more about placing the spotlight where it should be: on the group’s infectious, guitar-heavy tunes. I caught up with front man Chris Heckman to chat about the new album—and what it’s like to be in a rock band.
5280: There were lots of ups and downs in the process of releasing Cinematics. What happened?
CH: I think initially we just wanted to try to get something on the radio. That’s where “Hunting Season” came into play. Luckily, Channel 93.3 picked it up. In the meantime, we were talking to labels. We had a deal on the table; we were ready to go, ready to just pull the trigger and start writing for an actual album to be released. Then Sony had a change of house and dropped the label entirely, and everyone else just kind of pulled their offers off the table. So we took another year to write the album, to make it a more cohesive unit versus just a collection of singles thrown onto the CD. It’s been about three years of the writing process.
It all seems to have worked out in the end. The band is now with a local label, Greater Than Collective. What’s it like to work with them?
It’s really, really great. Their office is right down the street, and we pop in like kids coming home for the weekend, raid their fridge, and talk to them. Every other label that we’ve worked with, it’s been a really impersonal kind of relationship. This is like family.
How do you describe the Epilogues’ sound? It’s certainly matured and changed with Cinematics.
I always fall back on alternative-indie, but I don’t even know what that is anymore. We pull influences from so many different things. Some days I feel like writing a grunge song, and some days we’ll be listening to Radiohead and Other Lives and you want to be a little bit more theatrical with it. Up to this point, we’ve always tried to keep things pretty high energy because it’s more fun to play live. But as we’re getting older and want to play those slower songs, we want to do something a little more complex.
Your inspirations are pretty varied. Has anything consistently influenced you and the group?
Throughout my career, Radiohead and Nine Inch Nails have always been big. Those are my influences that will probably never change. And then every year or so I find another band. We also take [inspiration] from film scores and video games. We’re kind of dorks.
It’s hard to describe Colorado’s music scene because it’s so eclectic. What’s your take on the culture here?
There are so many different genres—and that almost makes Colorado what it is. It’s all over the place. More importantly, you have really, really supportive fans. That’s what has helped make this scene thrive. When we go to other places, we don’t see that camaraderie. It’s a really competitive nature, and there’s a huge negative aspect to that. I can see how that would be stifling, and it wouldn’t make it as validating in the end.
So what’s next?
Supporting the album is going to be the next move; touring as much as we can this next year, trying to grow as much as we can, using this album as a platform. I’m sure we’ll record by the end of the next year. We don’t want to wait another two to three years to start recording again.
—Image courtesy of Randall Paetzold of R! SERIES PHOTOGRAPHY