For Father John Misty, self-actualization’s a dish best served satirical

Monday 18th, May 2015 / 14:57
By Kristie Sparksman
Photo: Father John Misty

Photo: Emma Tillman

VANCOUVER — If you’re looking for advice on becoming a better person, then you’ve come to the wrong place. Additionally, if you are seeking solace in an artist with their shit together, you have definitely come to the wrong place. However, if you need a reminder that artists are not to be placed upon pedestals, and that they too are human in their faults and accomplishments, then let me introduce you to Josh Tillman.

Photo: Emma Tillman

Photo: Emma Tillman

“I have what could be called an artistic temperament,” Tillman coyly remarks, “which means I can be really moody, and I spend a lot of time terrorizing [my wife] Emma and cannibalizing our lives for my music.” He laughs bitterly, before continuing. “It’s like, I’m sitting with the guitar, and a line comes out of me that doesn’t make me want to puke, and then once that line is down, then I do whatever I can to avoid finishing the song. That usually can last somewhere between a few months or a few years.” This method of sabotage-esque writing is nothing new to Tillman, who used most of 2012 to ramble down the West Coast in a van, whilst hallucinating melodramatically to create Fear Fun, his debut entity under the moniker Father John Misty.

Being that he has a particular fondness for the crass, he set out to destroy the institution of love by his own means; taking the piss out of it with his new album, I Love You Honeybear. What Tillman failed to realize before it had already gripped him, was that love was coursing through his wary veins. He met Emma in a parking lot in Laurel Canyon, thus beginning their near-inseparably intertwined lives. Even on his tours, Emma stays by his side, as both a loving partner and sometimes prop assistant. For his new love – even though it probably feels contrived – Tillman picked up his guitar, and allowed himself to open up. “In a lot of ways, the propertied success…it just raises questions for me, which I don’t mind confronting, but it’s like, yeah it’s an exploitative album, and people love exploitation!” Tillman quips. “It’s a fucking spectacle but it does have a lot of heart. It does address some of these very common issues, from a bit of a deranged perspective. Maybe it’s a little deranged to be this forthright and be willing to border on misogyny at times.”

Though his cathartic honesty might seem misguided in its intent, Tillman won’t stop trying to express himself, although maybe next time it will leave him less exposed. “I am ready to creatively close that channel, to put that rest or whatever, but I don’t want to think, in terms of as a human being, that now I can dust my hands off and be like, ‘Well, I figured that all out.’ Like, I was very much going around talking like I had it all figured out, which is repulsive,” Tillman scoffs, “I think that’s one of the main occupational hazards in this industry, thinking that there’s some correlation between an album wrapping up, and your own work as a human being [being done].” It doesn’t matter if you’re convinced Father John Misty is mocking you or if you truly believe he is sincere. In the end, he is unsure himself, a vital bit of fun we should revel in, and most definitely fear.

Father John Misty plays the Commodore Ballroom on May 24th.

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