|One of the more entertaining, whimsical and talented voices to emerge in today’s indie-folk scene, Joshua Tillman has quickly became a commanding presence in music under his moniker Father John Misty. With a back story that reads like something out a novel, Tillman spent several years releasing various solo material, performing with other bands and touring relentlessly before his side project Father John Misty started to take off. Now, with two critically acclaimed albums under his belt and tours all around the world, Tillman has solidified the fact that Father John Misty has evolved into one of the leading frontmen of indie rock.
Performing in front of crowds had always been an ambition for Tillman, however it took a while for music to start developing as a passion. Tillman was born in a Evangelical Christian house in Rockville, Maryland, and the singer reflects on his upbringing today as one filled with inner conflicts and an overall lack of identity. In his early years, Tillman dreamed of becoming a pastor one day, but when tensions between him and his parents began to build, he started branching out to more forms of music. As an early teen, Tillman already learned the drums and guitar, and toward the end of high school, he began listening to artists who would have a profound effect on his songwriting style, such as Bob Dylan and Neil Young.
Becoming an artist
Tillman ultimately left for Seattle after a few years in college that didn’t work out. He continued to try out a string of odd jobs, while simultaneously beginning to focus more on his music. Ultimately, he began to grow connections within the Seattle folk scene, particularly with a fellow solo songwriter named Damien Jurado, who received Tillman’s demos and gave the singer a chance to open for him on tour. After that, Tillman fully devoted himself to his music, and between 2003 to 2010 he recorded eight solo albums. However, it was his involvement with another popular act that set him on a new path and newfound fame.
From Fleet Foxes to Father John Misty
In 2008, Tillman joined the Seattle-based folk band Fleet Foxes as the group’s drummer. That year led to the band’s debut EP Sun Giant, which received immense critical acclaim and eventually followed with the release of a self-titled full-length record. Led by frontman Robin Pecknold, Fleet Foxes went out to become one of the most successful indie acts in the late 2000s, selling hundreds of thousands of albums while touring the world. However, Tillman ultimately left the band in 2012, and the other members dissolved after Pecknold acknowledged that he would be taking a hiatus from music for a while.
Tillman wasted no time transitioning from life after Fleet Foxes. In 2012, Tillman released his debut album under the alias Father John Misty, titled Fear Fun. The album drew rave reviews from critics, who sided Tillman as a witty lyricist who also balanced his humor with emotionally charged folk ballads. In 2015, Tillman released his second album as Father John Misty titled I Love You, Honeybear. This proved to be the album that put Tillman on the indie folk map, selling the most copies Tillman ever experienced as a solo artist while receiving many album of the year nods from critics. Tillman has gained a reputation as a powerful live performer, and the often-outspoken artist is certainly not one to miss live.