The End: The Epilogues Call it Quits

Twelve years, in the life cycle of band, is practically an eternity. This summer, the Epilogues' celebration of their twelfth year as a band will be a bittersweet one, as singer/guitarist Chris Heckman recently announced on his facebook page that he will be leaving the group to attend Berklee College of Music in Valencia, Spain, and that the Epilogues would subsequently be breaking up. 

The Epilogues, fleshed out by Nate Hammond (keys/synth), Jason Hoke (drums) and Jeff Swoboda (bass), certainly saw their share of successes and challenges in their twelve-year run. The band, which plays post-punk "synth pop" in the vein of the Killers, the Faint and the Photo Atlas, will play a series of shows before its demise —  including a set at this Saturday's 2016 Westword Music Showcase. The run will culminate August 19 at the Summit Music Hall, where the band will release its fourth and final album, OK, OK. 

The Epilogues were a constant and compelling act in a rapidly changing Denver, and their talent, supportive personalities and overall presence will be sorely missed. 

We caught up with Heckman and Hoke and asked them about the end of the Epilogues. 

Andy Thomas: How are you feeling right now? 

Chris Heckman: It's hard to answer. I know the band is something I am going to miss for the rest of my life. But at the same time, I feel that we're at a point where change is necessary. I'm happy we're leaving on good terms, and I'm excited about this next year at Berklee. I'm grateful that we still have five shows left to enjoy and really reflect on the time we've spent together as a band.

Jason Hoke: Honestly, it's difficult to articulate the array of emotions I'm feeling about Chris leaving. It really depends on what day you ask me. Chris has been one of my best friends for over a decade now. We shared a bunk bed for the majority of those years, lived in a cramped van together while traveling the country, and shared some of the highest and lowest moments of our lives together. We've always joked that as individuals we're fairly unimpressive, but when you combine the four of us, we actually make a pretty well-rounded individual. 

Chris, how long have you planned on going to school in Spain?

Heckman: I've always wanted to score for films, but I didn't know how I was going to get the opportunity. So about six months ago, I was up late looking at graduate programs and decided to apply. I ended up getting a scholarship to my dream choice, Berklee School of Music. And to make things even better, their master's program happens to be in Valencia, Spain. So to answer your question, less than six months.

What will you miss the most about playing in this band?

Hoke: I'll probably miss touring the most. I always really enjoyed touring with these guys, as it felt like a road trip with my friends. We were fortunate enough to really grow as musicians on the road, meet tons of interesting people and see some pretty amazing places. Even the worst days on the road, when we were sick and sleeping on floors or fighting in the street in Boise, somehow felt valuable. Perhaps I'm glamorizing a shitty situation in hindsight, but for some reason even those days have stuck with me. 

I will miss the guys. I was basically married to Nate, Jason and Jeff for ten years. All of our experiences, good and bad, were shared with my best friends. I guess I'm sad that our time together is coming to an end. I know that we'll still work together in the future, but it most likely won't be the same as it was when we were all living in our tour van.

Recount your favorite Epilogues experience.

Heckman: There are so many experiences that will stick with me for the rest of my life. The first time on a sold-out tour, I can remember thinking it was exactly as I imagined it would be as a kid. I remember the first time we heard our song on the radio, and how important that moment felt to each of us. I can remember playing for over 10,000 people, and the sound of the applause. You could almost hear it in waves, and I don't think I'll ever forget that feeling. I remember all of our accomplishments and all of our failures, all the sold-out shows, and especially all the shows we played for the bartender. I don't think I have a favorite moment, because I genuinely loved it all. I suppose there are some things that I would have done differently if I had the chance, but I really am grateful for everything that we were able to do, and I wouldn't trade it for anything. 

Hoke:  One that really stands out is when we played to a sold-out Gothic Theatre in early 2011. "Hunting Season" was in heavy rotation on 93.3 at the time, and when we played that song, we could hear the crowd singing over the sound of our instruments (and we tend to be way too fucking loud). Chris turned away from the crowd midway through the song and just had this look of astonishment on his face that echoed what we all were feeling. Also, it was pretty awesome that time Chris slipped on his spilled beer and landed on his back at 1STBANK Center.

The Epilogues play the 2016 Westword Music Showcase this Saturday, June 25, at the Church at 4:35 p.m.

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Andy Thomas is a music journalist who hopes other music journalists write nice things about the music he performs. He lives in Denver with his wife, their two cats and a massive pile of unfinished projects.
Contact: Andy Thomas