"More or less, as a kid, I was this hyperactive, merciless little clown-demon," says Josh Tillman. This would explain the wry sense of humor and dry, introspective and brutally honest point-of-view behind the latest solo release by the ex-Fleet Foxes drummer.
This isn't Tillman's first foray into solo work, however. It is, though, the first he's released under the moniker of Father John Misty. Fear Fun, released this past May, is an artistically refreshing venture into Tillman's psyche and his current – and incredibly honest – perception of what he's currently doing, both from an artistic standpoint as well as from a perspective on life in general. But, all that existentialism and heavy shit aside, what the hell is with the name Father John Misty?
"It comes from my natural, abiding instinct to mislead people," says Tillman. "I made seven or eight albums under my own name, yet they didn't represent me as a person. At some point, it didn't feel honest. But this patented, misleading name seems more true, altruistically. I came to an understanding that my conversational voice and world point of view is more interesting."
It took, literally, dismantling his life and career trajectory to strip things down to the point where he was able to create music that he feels encompasses where he's at – while inadvertently providing a proverbial nod to his past. "My natural gifts were not conducive to what you're being told you should do and how you should live," says Tillman of his upbringing.
"I had to tear down some distortions around myself before I could get to this," he says, neither hinting at nor hiding the fact that his departure from one of this generation's most critically acclaimed indie folk acts has afforded him a golden opportunity at self-rediscovery. And with that freedom of self, Tillman has obviously experienced an outpouring of beautiful artistry. Fear Fun is a gem of an album, one of those musical masterpieces that is so multi-layered that it's both easy to listen to and entirely difficult to digest at the same time.
"The biggest inspiration for Fear Fun was myself and my experiences," he explains. "That was kind of a new big one for me. I had never been inspired by myself or my life before." See what I mean about honesty?
"It was kind of an identity thing," Tillman continues. "It was like, 'Am I going to live like an ape-man or not?' And I decided to live like an ape-man. I always kind of suspected I was an ape among men."
The aforementioned creative floodgates that have been busted open certainly don't stop there. "I have, currently, so much new material backed up," he says. "I have to seriously just not write. I have the theoretical second album done."
And that, folks, is maddening in itself. Based on the sheer talent and enjoyment of Fear Fun alone, the unnatural level of impatience that will be experienced in waiting for Father John Misty's sophomore release will be nothing short of excruciating. | RDW
Youth Lagoon with Father John Misty • 7/13, 8 p.m. • Crofoot Ballroom • 1 South Saginaw, Pontiac • 248.858.9333 • thecrofoot.com • $13 advance, $15 day of