Interview Done By Mike Wilkerson
MW: Please introduce yourself?
TC: My name is Tim Cord, and I am the lead singer, piano player, and rhythm guitar player for American Hitmen.
MW: What made you want to try out for America’s Got Talent season 8?
TC: Our friend John Farmer, who runs the Utah Musicians Network, called me and said his friend was a casting director for AGT. They were holding auditions at a hotel in Salt Lake and he suggested that we go. We showed up with a DVD of a live performance and music video from the band. They asked us why they should pick us and our response was “Pick us if you want, or not. Either way, we’ll keep rocking out.”
MW: Take me through the first round?
TC: They flew us out to Chicago and told us to hang out in the lobby the next morning until an AGT rep came and picked us up. We weren’t really nervous because it was less of a band battle, and more of a variety show. We were driven to the theater and that’s where we met the producers and crew of AGT. We basically waited in a holding room all day with all the other acts, while they set up the stage. Around noon, they brought us onstage for a sound check. Since we’re a rock band that is used to playing in dive bars, we were very easy to work with as far as sound and gear was concerned. The stage crew loved us because of it. Anyway, we had still not really chosen a song yet. They had to approve songs through licensing, so it was between “House of the Rising Sun” and Skynyrd’s “Simple Man”. We sound checked both and our producer said “Simple Man” was a home run. Also, a little girl, who we ended up losing to in New York, had played “House of the Rising Sun” for her initial audition, so they figured the judges wouldn’t want to hear it twice. The time came to perform in front of the judges, as well as the 3000+ people in the audience, so we took the stage. It wasn’t nerve wracking simply because we were used to being in front of crowds. It was cool seeing my idol, Howard Stern, though. Anyway, we rocked the 90 second version of “Simple Man” and got a standing ovation from the judges and the crowd. It was cool! Then we flew home the next day.
MW: Take me through the Vegas round?
TC: We played a 2 hour show in Utah on Thursday, and two back-to-back 2 hour shows in Idaho on Friday and Saturday, so we ended up leaving straight from the Idaho venue and drove through the night to the SLC airport to fly to Vegas. We were pretty exhausted, as you can imagine. The flight to Vegas was over in about an hour, so none of us got any sleep. When we arrived in Vegas, they brought us over to the Ballys Casino to check in. As soon as we checked in , they put us in buses and drove us all around Vegas with a film crew, filming our what they call “B-Roll”. We were in the bus for hours having to act like we were just now arriving in Vegas. It was…interesting. After that, they dropped us off at the hotel and put us up in a conference hall, where we basically just waited as each act was interviewed. They would place us in the background of certain interviews to fill in the shot better, so we couldn’t take a nap. When it was our turn to go in front of the music production team to show them our act, we were all pretty spent. We jammed our 90 second version of “House of the Rising Sun”, listened to a little feedback from the producers, and went back to the holding room. For three days, we sat in the holding area. It was brutal! Finally, we went over to the Planet Hollywood Casino to hear our fate. The judges called in a third of the acts and sent them straight home. They called in another third of the acts and sent them straight through to New York. The last third, which we were in, went in front of the judges and were told we had to audition again. We were fine with it. We knew we had a solid song and that we would bring it 100%. We were the first act to perform in front of the judges. There was no audience, just the judges. We jammed out and then stood there for a few with no applause, no commentary, and no idea what the judges thought. Then Howard Stern asked us if we had slept at all, and we said we had actually. Then he told us thank you and we left the stage. We had to wait 24 hours to hear whether or not we made it through to New York or not. Needless to say, it was a long 24 hours. The next day they pulled us on stage, told us we made it, and that was that. Turns out Vegas is really hot and dry, by the way. 🙂
MW: Take me through the live round?
TC: They flew us to New York and drove us to the Hilton, right across the street from the Radio City Music Hall. We met with the crew the next morning at Radio City, and started preparing for the live show. The producers brought in 3 backup singers and a keyboard player for us, to help make the stage performance a little “juicier”. We rehearsed with them and basically made the producers giddy, because they thought we had a home run song. On the Thursday before the show aired, we flew out to Des Moines, IA to play a few shows that we had booked months before, and the producers were cool with us leaving for a few days. We played in Des Moines on Thursday, Hannibal, Missouri on Friday, and then finished with a show in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. We flew back to New York on Sunday and went right back to rehearsal. They dressed us in cooler clothes than we brought with us and had us rehearse over and over again. Tuesday came and it was a madhouse. There were so many moving parts to prepare for the live show! It was nuts. Anyway, we did a red carpet press line before the show started and then went backstage to get our stuff ready to rock. We were the first act of the night so obviously there was a lot of pressure. The time came and we took the stage. I counted in the band and we rocked one hell of a 90 second version of “With A Little Help From My Friends”, Joe Cocker style! We had the audience standing and swaying their arms with the beat. It was awesome! Then the judges told us they didn’t really like our song and wanted to hear something a little harder. I told Heidi that we did too, but since we didn’t pick the songs, it wasn’t really up to us. It wasn’t a big deal for us because we knew that America had just seen the American Hitmen perform live at the Radio City Music Hall. It was a win-win for us.
MW: What did you think when you were voted off?
TC: Obviously it would have been cool to go through at least one more round, but we were actually relieved to a point. We had been catching a lot of flack online from people saying we were a cover band. We take pride in the original music that we write, so that was a hard pill to swallow when we found out we couldn’t play our own music on the show. Our drummer, Phil, and guitarist, Dan, are both insanely talented musicians and they were never really able to do much on AGT other than be background music for my singing. When we first went on the show, we knew we would never win the show. We had no intention of winning either. All we wanted was exposure. We wanted the name “American Hitmen” to be heard in places that would normally not know who we were. Mission accomplished! Our Facebook page likes went from 1,831 to over 9,000 in less than a month. Our website (www.americanhitmen.com) received over 1.5 million hits in July alone. It’s been awesome! Now that we have the exposure, we can show people what we really do, which is rock out nightly for hours on end!
MW: How far did you think you would go?
TC: We figured we would make it through the first round. After that was really unknown. We’re not cocky guys so we were very level-headed about the whole thing. We were the only rock band so there wasn’t really any comparison between us and other acts. Knowing that, we were able to just do our thing as best as we could. If they wanted a rock band to go through, then we would. If they didn’t, it wasn’t for a lack of trying on our part. Everyone around us was always saying “Man, you guys are going to win!” but we never bought into it. We took it one show at a time. I do know that we had most of the military bases, the religious folks, the South, Utah, Texas, and every biker across the nation voting for us, so they were all pretty confident that we were going to make it through the first live round. We ever once planned on making it. We just did our thing and hoped America and the judges would dig it.
MW: How upset are you that you did not go to the semi-finals?
TC: It would have been cool to go through one more round, but the doors that were opened for us from just being on the show, were flying open left and right. We saw being voted off the show as the true beginning of our music career. Our name was out there, and now we were able to tackle all the offers that started pouring in. So, yes, it would have been awesome to go to the next round, but none of us even batted an eye when we didn’t make it.
MW: What did you think of Howie Mandel?
TC: Howie Mandel was cool. He always thought we were awesome and was a big reason we kept going. Also, he has a lot of pretty ladies that follow him around. Not a bad life, if you ask me.
MW: What did you think of Mel B.?
TC: Mel B. was funny. She liked our music but hated the way our bassist and drummer dressed during the first round. She seems like the kind of girl that could hold her own in a bar fight.
MW: What did you think of Hedi Klum?
TC: Heidi is one of those people that, when you see them in person, look airbrushed. She is a fine specimen of a human being. I remember seeing her Sports Illustrated Swimsuit cover when I was a kid and thinking she was the greatest thing since sliced bread. Now that I met her, hit on her on national television, and was greeted by her backstage, I can die a happy man.
MW: What did you think of Howard Stern?
TC: Howard Stern is awesome! I have been a fan of his for as long as I can remember, so being able to talk to him, be judged by him, and hear him talk about us on his show is a dream come true. I love the fact that he has no reason to be nice to us or tell us we’re good if he didn’t think we were, so when he said we were awesome for the first two rounds, that was amazing! Everyone is pissed off because he didn’t like our song in the live round, but we’re all totally cool with it. We didn’t have much control over the songs we did so I know it wasn’t a direct reflection on us. Plus, I got to meet all his crew from the show, so it was awesome putting faces with the names I have come to know and love over the years. Howard is still the man in my book.
MW: What is in store for American Hitmen now?
TC: We are going to hit the road, and try to make it to every city that wants to see us. We’ll be hitting the studio to record some new jams so stay tuned for that. On October 5th, we’ll be returning to our home base, Camp Pendleton, CA, for a really big rock show! If you can make it out, it will definitely be worth your time.
MW: How can your fans reach out to you?
TC: We are ALL over the internet. Our websites are:
http://www.americanhitmen.com; http://www.facebook.com/americanhitmen; http://www.twitter.com/americanhitmen; http://www.soundcloud.com/americanhitmen; http://www.youtube.com/americanhitman or http://www.youtube.com/americanhitmen; americanhitmen.bandcamp.com; http://www.sonicbids.com/americanhitmen
MW: What would you like to say in closing?
TC: I just want to say “thank you” from all of us in the American Hitmen! That was one hell of a cool experience! It’s only the beginning for us so be sure to stay tuned for upcoming shows in your area! Rock ‘n’ Roll!