When a singer-songwriter performs under his own name it usually suggests emotional honesty and immediacy. In Josh Tillman’s case, things didn’t get real until he dropped the J. Tillman moniker in favor of the cheeky pseudonym Father John Misty. “I was determined to omit my sense of humor from the J. Tillman music for a lot of reasons. I wanted my music to have substance. I didn’t want it to be clowning around,” says Tillman, who also used to play in big-time indie band Fleet Foxes. “But that was a very immature idea of what honesty looks like.” Anything goes on Fear Fun, Father John Misty’s well-regarded 2012 debut that’s built upon a foundation of folk-rock and takes off in kaleidoscopic directions. The 33-year-old found his narrative voice by writing a novel while road-tripping around the West Coast in a van full of psychedelic mushrooms. Somehow, he emerged with clarity—and good song material. It was, he says, “a very conscious process.” It’s definitely resonating. Father John Misty plays Bonnaroo, the Newport Folk Festival, and Lollapalooza this summer. Still, he’s not taking his music or himself too seriously. “The lyrics are 90 percent of what’s interesting about it,” he says. “The rest are just G-chords. The lyrics seem to have substance, but the delivery is just flippant. And that’s pretty emblematic of me as a person."
Tickets: $15 advance, $17 day-of-show. June 11, 20th Century Theatre, the20thcenturytheatre.com
Photograph by Emma GarrOriginally published in the June 2013 issue
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