Tillman performing as Father John Misty at the Fuji Rock Festival in July 2017
|Joshua Michael Tillman|
Father John Misty
|Born||May 3, 1981|
Joshua Michael Tillman (born May 3, 1981), also known as J. Tillman or Father John Misty, is an American singer, songwriter, guitarist and drummer. Maintaining a steady output of solo recordings since 2004, Tillman was a former member or toured with Demon Hunter, Saxon Shore, Fleet Foxes, Jeffertitti's Nile, Pearly Gate Music, Siberian,Har Mar Superstar,Poor Moon, Low Hums, Jonathan Wilson, Bill Patton, The Lashes, Stately English, and has toured extensively with Pacific Northwest artists Damien Jurado, Jesse Sykes, and David Bazan. He has also made contributions to albums by popular artists, including Beyoncé,Lady Gaga, and Kid Cudi, and has produced one album for Matthew Daniel Siskin, known as Gambles.
Tillman grew up in an Evangelical Christian household in Rockville, Maryland, a suburb of Washington, D.C. The oldest of four children, he has a brother and two sisters. His father was an engineer at Hewlett-Packard. Before Tillman settled on a career as a musician, he briefly had ambitions of becoming a pastor because of the performance aspect when he was approximately six years old. He comments that his parents focused on the spiritual aspects of his upbringing, which he describes as "culturally oppressive". They were estranged for many years, but they reconciled. After learning drums at a young age, Tillman learned guitar when he was 12.
Tillman was raised in a Baptist church, attended an Episcopal elementary school, then a Pentecostal Messianic Jewish day school. Tillman said he was naive when he was growing up because there was almost no cultural influence and no secular music allowed. Around the age of 17, there were new stipulations from his parents - he was allowed to listen to secular music that had a "spiritual theme". So his early purchases included albums like Bob Dylan's Slow Train Coming as he was able to establish that Dylan was classified as a "Christian artist".
After attending Nyack College in New York for a year, Tillman moved to Seattle when he was 21. He found a job there working at a bakery, which allowed him to record at night before his 4:30 am shift began. A demo he made eventually found its way to Seattle singer and songwriter Damien Jurado. A year later Tillman started opening for Jurado. At shows Tillman would distribute CD-R copies of songs that would later become his album I Will Return. During the tour, he also struck up a friendship with Eric Fisher, who produced another CD-R album, Long May You Run. Both albums were later released on Keep Recordings. Tillman and Jurado both later signed on for a U.S. tour with Richard Buckner.
In 2006, the independent label Fargo Records released Tillman's first properly distributed solo album, Minor Works, and reissued I Will Return and Long May You Run as a two-disc set the same year. In 2007, Yer Bird Records released his more elaborately arranged fourth album, Cancer and Delirium.
After signing to independent record label Western Vinyl, Tillman released two albums in 2009, Vacilando Territory Blues and Year In The Kingdom. Tillman said he wrote the title track of Vacilando Territory Blues to describe imagery he associates with his move to Seattle. His brother Zach subsequently moved there as well and is now in the musical group Pearly Gate Music. The following year Tillman released Singing Ax.
On May 1, 2012, Tillman released the album Fear Fun under his new moniker Father John Misty. A couple of months prior to the release of the album a video was released for the song "Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings" starring Parks and Recreations Aubrey Plaza. The album was a dramatic departure from any of Tillman's former releases.
Tillman wrote an essay about Damien Jurado's recording, Brothers and Sisters of the Eternal Son (Secretly Canadian, 2014). He also wrote the soundtrack for a short film called The History of Caves, directed by his wife, the filmmaker Emma Elizabeth Tillman.
The "Limited Run Promotional Poster" was available at the artist's website, and promoted a purported release called New Winter, described as a "Christmas Neu-Jazz Double Album", and quoted several paradoxes and reviews (for example, from The Wall Street Journal, calling it the "new standard by which all seasonal music must now be measured", or from Spin, giving the release 10 out of 10 points and calling it an "[e]ssential year-round [sic] listening"). The poster text further states that the release will be sold as "compact disc" as well as "[l]imited edition prismatic hologram 6xLP on merlot and emerald semi-translucent 180 gram vinyl with original alternate-side etchings by Josh Tillman available till supplies last". The poster names five songs that are part of the track list: "Gesture I: Inoculation (Mother And Child)", "Gesture II: Feast Of Spirits", "Anacrusis Future Seed", "Naked Fire/The Fifth Season" and "Gemini".
Tillman made headlines by covering Taylor Swift's "Blank Space" and "Welcome to New York" in 2015. He claimed to have never listened to the artist prior to recording the covers.
On July 22, 2016, Tillman gained media attention after walking off stage at XPoNential Music Festival in Camden, New Jersey, after twenty minutes into his planned fifty-minute performance. Instead of performing his setlist, Tillman walked out and asked, "What the fuck is going on?" He then talked for six minutes about the "numbing" role entertainment plays in our lives and how "stupidity just fucking runs the world because entertainment is stupid." When the audience applauded him he asked them not to and responded by saying, "Maybe just take a moment to be really fucking profoundly sad." He finally played a thirteen-minute piece from his recent album Pure Comedy called "Leaving LA" which references the frustrations he spoke of during his speech. Tillman then covered Leonard Cohen's "Bird on the Wire" before telling the crowd he loved them and walked off the stage, cutting his performance short. The following day, Tillman explained his performance in an Instagram post, in which he called Donald Trump's speech at the 2016 Republican National Convention a "demonic clown pageant coronation of our next potential Idiot King", which took place the night before Tillman's performance.
So, maybe it's completely insane and wildly inappropriate to get in front of a battleship adjacent to Camden, NJ the day after the demonic clown pageant coronation of our next potential Idiot King and publicly despair on a stage contracted specially for the purpose an afternoon of delightful folk/blues/Americana/roots music and feel real fucking deep-down-in-your guts jeembles about entertainment, its narcotic properties and horrifying efficiency in elevating madmen to the heights of influence (ironic) - KNOWING all the while it's probably better to leave this kind of commentary to the professionals at Comedy Central- after a few days of politely shrugging and shaking your head in pathetic resignation with other polite, pathetic resigned people and asking "Wait, what the fuck is going on?" in to a microphone before playing a new 15 minute song that is almost obscenely vulnerable because it feels more honest to you than "Bored in the USA" but maybe it's not.
We really need to regain some perspective on what can be entertainment and try to be conscious of the ways in which we're viewing things as if they were entertainment. Things end up becoming really passive and we become powerless because we interact with it like it's entertainment. I just feel like I would be remiss if I didn't talk about that a little bit.
On January 23, 2017, the single "Pure Comedy" was released in the form of a music video and Tillman announced the arrival of his album Pure Comedy released on April 7, 2017. Through this album, he externalizes the stereotypical character of Father John Misty that he developed through the two previous albums in order to prevent himself from being constricted to the character's image, using his personhood and experiences to expose his outlook on life.
The third single released was "Ballad of the Dying Man" on February 1, 2017.
During this tour, Tillman has mixed the tracks for his next album produced by Jonathan Rado, with song titles including "Mr. Tillman, Please Exit the Lobby", "Ouch, I'm Drowning", "Well, We're Only People and There's Nothing Much We Can Do About It", and "Dum Dum Blues". The album explores heartache and was written during a six-week period where Tillman was living in a hotel.  It is expected for release in 2018.
Tillman is married to photographer Emma Elizabeth Tillman (née Garr). They met in Los Angeles at the Laurel Canyon Country Store and were married in Big Sur. They had lived in New Orleans, Louisiana, but have returned to Los Angeles. Tillman had previously lived in Seattle for several years.
as J. Tillman
as Father John Misty
with Fleet Foxes
with Saxon Shore
|2012||Helplessness Blues||Best Folk Album||Nominated|
|2016||I Love You, Honeybear (Limited Edition Deluxe Vinyl)||Best Boxed or Special Limited Edition Package||Nominated|
|2018||Pure Comedy||Best Alternative Music Album||Pending|
|Pure Comedy (Deluxe Edition)||Best Recording Package||Pending|