In a much less shitty epilogue than the Lost series finale, the departure of Fleet Foxes drummer J. Tillman is starting to make some sense… and that sense is AWESOME. “Back into the gaping maw of obscurity I go,” Tillman wrote a few mere weeks ago. “Tokyo is my last show with the Foxes. Sorry if I was distant and obtuse if we ever met. Have fun.” If his statement hints that Tillman was ready to pack in the ol’ drum kit and go on a vision quest in the desert, where he’d later assume a paternal, mystical-sounding name and then go on to lead an isolated sex cult that also records country rock-tinged, dark-hearted LPs, well, that statement would be in part right. Because lo! J. Tillman has been reborn as the Sub Pop recording artist Father John Misty.
Perhaps you’ve already seen the video for the haunting track, “Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings,” starring dour-faced awesome person Aubrey Plaza from TV’s Parks and Rec? That track will be on the upcoming Father John Misty album Fear Fun, out May 1. Tillman has been recording and releasing solo albums since 2003. The ideas behind Fear Fun started brewing during an especially tough period of depression for Tillman.
“I lost all interest in writing music, or identifying as a ‘songwriter,’” Tillman/Father John said. “I got into my van with enough mushrooms to choke a horse and started driving down the coast with nowhere to go. After a few weeks, I was writing a novel, which is where I finally found my narrative voice…. It was a while before that voice started manifesting in a musical way, but once I settled in the Laurel Canyon spider-shack where I’m living now, I spent months demoing all these weird-ass songs about weird-ass experiences almost in real-time, and kind of had this musical ‘Oh-there-I-am’ moment, identical to how I felt when I was writing the book.”
So, a long, strange journey for Tillman, and a long, strange journey for this album. It’s a distance from the sweetly yearning folk harmonies of Fleet Foxes, but that same melancholy undercurrent floats through the new Father John Misty jams. If “Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings” is any indication of the new Tillman direction, fans will be more than willing to follow the man down any spidery path.
Fear Fun tracklisting:
01. Funtimes in Babylon
02. Nancy From Now On
03. Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings
04. I’m Writing a Novel
05. O I Long to Feel Your Arms Around Me
06. Misty’s Nightmares 1 & 2
07. Only Son of the Ladiesman
08. This Is Sally Hatchet
09. Well, You Can Do It Without Me
10. Now I’m Learning to Love the War
11. Tee Pees 1-12
12. Everyman Needs a Companion