Father John Misty's Josh Tillman on Fearlessness and the Human Condition
Josh Tillman sighs into the phone, taking a breath before launching into a personal sentiment that's a signature of his tell-all take to his music -- something he's fond of exploring rather than simply talking about his inspirations. As the man behind Father John Misty, the psych-folk act that's followed his work with both Fleet Foxes and his previous solo project J. Tillman, he's no stranger to plumbing the depths of philosophy to create his own narrative.
Courtesy of www.fatherjohnmisty.net
At the moment, we're talking about his approach to his songwriting, often laced with Tillman's off-center and sometimes absurd sense of humor. "I think all humor is rooted in tragedy, and it is rooted in sadness, and it's rooted in the deficit of the human experience," he says. "There's this deficit where what we expect out of life and what we get, and the remainder there is the thing that comedy addresses. If you touch on topics that are sensitive enough, people are going to laugh whether it's funny or not. I think that that's a lot of what I'm doing with the music."
Whatever it is, it's working.
Fear Fun, Tillman's debut as Father John Misty, was released last April on Sub Pop, and it's proven to be the personal hallmark of Tillman's career, most indicative of his persona outside of his music. It's also been the catalyst for national attention via Conan O'Brien and David Letterman performances, both of which were noted for Tillman's breezy, referential throwback sound and stage presence.
"People that I knew kept saying was that it sounded like me, that it really sounded like me, because I've been making these J. Tillman records for a really long time," he says. "My friends were supportive, but there was a pretty big difference between the person that they saw and knew and the music that I was making."
Finally, Tillman seems to feel at the point where he's at his creative best, working on a yet-to-be-titled Fear Fun follow-up that's his most exposed work yet. While watching him in interviews, or making note of his tongue-in-cheek perspective of popular culture, there's the sense that Tillman can be willing to say what others aren't. In the case of his latest, forthcoming offering, he's revealing things even he wasn't quite willing to say before.