by Corey H. Jones
Josh Tillman is a changed man. Or, at the very least, a changed musician. After operating as a solo artist under the name J. Tillman for years and also drumming for Seattle's Fleet Foxes from 2008 to 2011, Tillman escaped his own reality. And he returned. Transformed and liberated. With a new pseudonym and a new voice.
The song "Every Man Needs a Companion" serves as an exclamation mark to the overall rousing statement that is Father John Misty's Sub Pop Records debut, "Fear Fun". On the album's final song, his lyrics affirm: "Joseph Campbell and the Rolling Stones couldn't give me a myth. So I had to write my own. ...I never liked the name Joshua, and I got tired of 'J'."
It is, seemingly, a very real moment on an album full of vivid imagery, folklore and, as Tillman says, mischief. With previous material, Tillman has utilized his songwriting as a vehicle for truth. As Father John Misty, the musician loads humorous tales into his storytelling canon and takes aim.
This attitude and direction are a refreshing change of pace from the sometimes stale nature of your typical singer-songwriter. As Father John Misty, Tillman unveils a newfound swagger. He has an unmatched moxie. And it's elevated him as a performer, which he proved on stage at Denver's Bluebird Theater on July 5, 2012. It's rare to see one man, alone with an unplugged acoustic guitar, energize and entertain a crowd the way Tillman did. His flippant remarks and digressing diatribe act as a natural extension to the engaging narratives he has written.
OpenAir spoke with the man behind the Father John Misty moniker before his recent live set. "It's interesting to see people responding to the humor and the humanity in the music," Tillman says during the interview, which you can access below. "I feel, in a certain way, infinitely more vulnerable on stage than I ever have before." His disposition: "You can only be that vulnerable if you really don't care anymore. So it's a really interesting cross-section of sensations."
Tillman is a new man. His own man. And while truth does surface within Father John Misty's messages, indoctrination is not his objective. The musician has chosen description over scripture. And while he's encountered--and created--many characters throughout his adventures, it seems Tillman's greatest consoling "companion" is Father John Misty himself.
Hear Josh Tillman talk about his new project, the novel that led to the album, his favorite Colorado memory, and more HERE.