Joshua Michael Tillman (born May 3, 1981), also known as Father John Misty and previously J. Tillman, is an American singer, songwriter, guitarist, drummer and record producer. 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, and 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 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.
In 2008, Tillman joined Seattle folk rock band Fleet Foxes as their drummer.
After extensive touring with Fleet Foxes, promoting their album Helplessness Blues, Tillman played his final show with the band in Tokyo on January 20, 2012.
Tillman released the album Fear Fun under his new moniker Father John Misty on May 1, 2012. 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 Recreation's Aubrey Plaza. The album was a dramatic departure from any of Tillman's former releases.
As Father John Misty, Tillman was featured on Kid Cudi's 2013 album Indicud.
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, 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 "ssential year-round listening"). The poster text further states that the release will be sold as "compact disc" as well as "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".
The album I Love You, Honeybear was released in February 2015 to widespread acclaim. According to Tillman, it is a concept album about himself and his personal life.
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. This was done in parody of Ryan Adams, who had released his own version of Swift's 1989, featuring covers of every song.
Tillman released a new song entitled "Real Love Baby" on Soundcloud on May 19, 2016.
Tillman appeared on the song "Saturday Night Inside Out" on The Avalanches's second studio album Wildflower, which was released on July 1, 2016.
Tillman gained media attention on July 22, 2016, 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.
Tillman released a cover of "Trump's Private Pilot", a song written by Tim Heidecker, on Soundcloud on November 7, 2016. On November 22, 2016, Tillman released a new song entitled "Holy Hell" on Soundcloud.
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 second single released off of Pure Comedy, "Two Wildly Different Perspectives", was released with another music video on January 30, 2017. The third single released was "Ballad of the Dying Man" on February 1, 2017. The fourth single, "Total Entertainment Forever", was released on the night it was performed on Saturday Night Live on March 4, 2017.
Pure Comedy was released on April 7, 2017. The Pure Comedy world tour began in April 2017 and will continue into 2018.
During this tour, Tillman has mixed the tracks for his next album produced with Jonathan Rado, revealing potential song titles "Mr. Tillman, Please Exit the Lobby" (later shortened to "Mr. Tillman"), "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 released the lead single, "Mr. Tillman," from his upcoming album on February 20, 2018. The album God's Favorite Customer was announced on April 18, to be released on June 1. Its track listing was shared, alongside two further songs, "Disappointing Diamonds Are The Rarest Of Them All" and "Just Dumb Enough to Try".
British screenwriter and film producer Drew Pearce, who had previously directed the music video for "The Night Josh Tillman Came to Our Apartment," sought out Tillman for his directorial debut Hotel Artemis when he wanted to cast a musician. Tillman has a small role in the film as a bank robber, and said that his character "gets his head blown off within, like, 30 seconds." Tillman also contributed to the soundtrack of Hotel Artemis with the song "Gilded Cage," which will be released on June 8, 2018, the same day as the film.
Tillman is married to photographer Emma Elizabeth Tillman (nee 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. She has done photography for Father John Misty albums.
as J. Tillman
• Untitled No. 1 (2003)
• I Will Return (2004)
• Long May You Run, J. Tillman (2006)
• Minor Works (2006)
• Cancer and Delirium (2007)
• Vacilando Territory Blues (2009)
• Year in the Kingdom (2009)
• Singing Ax (2010)
as Father John Misty
• Fear Fun (2012)
• I Love You, Honeybear (2015)
• Pure Comedy (2017)
• God's Favorite Customer (2018)
with Fleet Foxes
• Helplessness Blues (2011)
with Saxon Shore
• Be a Bright Blue (2002)
• Four Months of Darkness (2003)
Sources: Last.fm, Wikipedia
Father John Misty in the news
|Songs by Father John Misty|