Father John Misty

Father John Misty

Wild Nothing

Wed, July 24, 2013

Doors: 7:00 pm / Show: 8:00 pm

Terminal 5

New York, NY

This event is all ages

Father John Misty
Father John Misty
When discussing ‘Father John Misty’, Tillman paraphrases Philip Roth: ‘It’s all of me and none of me, if you can’t see that, you won’t get it’. What I call it is totally arbitrary, but I like the name. You’ve got to have a name. I never got to choose mine.”

He goes on, “‘People who make records are afforded this assumption by the culture that their music is coming from an exclusively personal place, but more often than not what you hear are actually the affectations of an ‘alter-ego’ or a cartoon of an emotionally heightened persona,” says Josh Tillman, who has been recording/releasing solo albums since 2003 and who recently left Seattle’s Fleet Foxes after playing drums from 2008-2011. “That kind of emotional quotient isn’t sustainable if your concern is portraying a human-being made up of more than just chest-beating pathos. I see a lot of rampant, sexless, male-fantasy everywhere in the music around me. I didn’t want any alter-egos, any vagaries, fantasy, escapism, any over-wrought sentimentality. I like humor and sex and mischief. So when you think about it, it’s kind of mischievous to write about yourself in a plain-spoken, kind of explicitly obvious way and call it something like ‘Misty’. I mean, I may as well have called it ‘Steve’.”

Musically, “Fear Fun” consists of such disparate elements as Waylon Jennings, Harry Nilsson, Arthur Russell, "All Things Must Pass," and “Physical Graffiti,” often within the same song. Tillman's voice has never been better and often sounds like Roy Orbison, “The Caruso of Rock”, at his most joyous, while the music maintains a dark, mysterious and yet conversely playful, almost Dionysian quality. Lyrically, his absurdist fever dreams of pain and pleasure elicit, in equal measures, the blunt descriptive power of Bukowski or Braughtigan, the hedonist-philosophy of Oscar Wilde and the dried-out wit of Loudon Wainwright III.

The album began gestating during what Tillman describes as an “immobilizing period of depression”, in his former Seattle home. “Songwriting for me had always only been interesting and necessary because I saw it as this vehicle for truth, but I had this realization that all I had really done with it was lick my wounds for years and years, and become more and more isolated from people and experiences. I don’t even like wound-licking music, I want to listen to someone rip their arm off and beat themselves with it. I don’t believe that until now I’ve ever put anything at risk in my music. I was hell-bent on putting my preciousness at stake in order to find something worth singing about.”

He continues, “So, I lost all interest in writing music, or identifying as a ‘songwriter’. I got into my van with enough mushrooms to choke a horse and started driving down the coast without a fucking acoustic guitar, the sound of which at that point actually made me nauseous, with nowhere to go. After a few weeks, I was writing a novel, which is where I finally found my narrative voice. The voice that is actually useful.

“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. It was unbelievably liberating. I knew there was never any going back to the place I was writing from before, which was a huge relief. The monkey got banished off my back.”

Tillman brought the demos to LA producer/songwriter/pal Jonathan Wilson, and in February 2011 began recording at his home-studio in Echo Park. “Initially, the idea was to just kind of recreate the demos with me playing everything, since they were pretty fleshed out and sounded cool, but a place like LA affords you a different wealth of talent, potential, etc than just about anywhere else. I realized what was possible between Jonathan’s abilities, and the caliber of musicians that are just hanging around LA, pretty quickly. People were coming in and out of the studio all day sometimes, and other days, it would just be Jonathan and I holed up, getting stoned, and doing everything.

When asked about Laurel Canyon, where he eventually ended up living in the aforementioned tree-house with a family of spiders, Tillman says, “My attitude about it all is pretty explicit in the record. Given my adversarial personal attitude about the music and aesthetic that comes from that place, it’s kind of a huge joke that I live in a former hippie-fantasy land. I have a really morbid sense of humor.”

Phil Ek (who everyone knows has worked with Built To Spill, Modest Mouse, Band of Horses, Fleet Foxes) heard the rough versions of the album in May 2011 and offered his services to mix. “Phil and I have known each other for a while by virtue of Fleet Foxes, so he was familiar with my music, but we had never discussed working together. I think he immediately recognized the shift in my writing and singing from a producer and friend’s standpoint. His excitement is really evident in mixes, I think.”

“Fear Fun” is available May 1, 2012 from Sub Pop and Bella Union, in the US and UK/EU respectively.
Wild Nothing
Wild Nothing
Wild Nothing

Nocturne is the follow up release to Wild Nothing’s critically acclaimed debut ‘Gemini’.

Ask Jack Tatum what ‘Wild Nothing’ means and he’ll answer: ‘a contradiction’. In 2010, 21 year old Tatum released one of the finest cult pop records of the summer whilst ensconced in his senior year of college in Blacksburg, VA, a small mid-atlantic town better known for producing football fans and engineers than musicians. Tatum lives in contradictions. You’ll often hear Wild Nothing referred to as a ‘one man pop band’. Jack creates in the studio, alone. On the road, he’s with a band. There are two Wild Nothings.

The critically acclaimed debut ‘Gemini’ was underpinned with summery childhood longings, and shot through with the instant dichotomy of anxiety and almost whimsical paranoia. The album, which was home recorded by Tatum and rooted heavily in 80’s indie-pop, quickly gained popularity throughout the internet. Tatum assembled a band of Virginia friends and hit the road for the first time. ‘Gemini’ showed a promising future for a songwriter who wore his influences on his sleeve while still approaching pop craftsmanship in his own way. When asked about it in regards to ‘Nocturne’, Jack states:

I don’t think it’s going to be a secret to anyone that I care about pop music, but it’s definitely more my sense of what pop music used to be or even what pop music would be in my ideal world.

The new album ‘Nocturne’, is a window into Tatum’s “ideal world” of pop music. Written largely while living in Savannah, GA during 2011, the songs that became ‘Nocturne’ speak to a new Wild Nothing where the lines between Jack’s influences and personality have been further blurred. The album features some open references to past music just as ‘Gemini’ did, but it’s also an album that feels much less rooted in anything in particular and, well, more adult.

‘Gemini’ was written before there were Wild Nothing fans or even a live band; ‘Nocturne’ is different. With an unexpected fan base to turn to, Jack spent more time perfecting his craft. The obsessiveness of ‘Nocturne’ is inherent in it’s gentle harmonies, orchestrated synths, wandering voice, and songs that speak of his post-Gemini experiences as he explores new paradoxes of pop.

And yet Nocturne’ isn’t obvious, it is a strange and distinctive musical beast, the product of an obsessive pop vision that creates its own reality.
Venue Information:
Terminal 5
610 W 56th St
New York, NY, 10019
http://www.terminal5nyc.com/