Joshua Michael Tillman (born May 3, 1981), also known as J. Tillman or Father John Misty, is an American singer, songwriter, guitarist and drummer. Maintaining a steady output of solo recordings since 2004, Tillman is a former member of indie rock bands Saxon Shore, Fleet Foxes, Jeffertitti's Nile, Pearly Gate Music, Siberian, Har Mar Superstar, Poor Moon, Low Hums, Jonathan Wilson, Bill Patton, The Lashes, Stately English, and has toured extensively with Pacific Northwest artists Damien Jurado, Jesse Sykes, and David Bazan.
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 have since resumed contact. After learning drums at a young age, Tillman learned guitar when he was 12.
Tillman was raised in a Baptist church and attended an Episcopal elementary school, but by fifth grade he found himself enrolled in a Pentecostal Messianic Jewish 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 briefly attending Nyack College in New York, 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 subsequently moved there as well. 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.
Father John Misty
On May 1, 2012, Tillman released the album Fear Fun under his new moniker Father John Misty. 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, the 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 made-up 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 an "[e]ssential year-round [sic] listening"). The poster text further states that the release will be sold as "compact disc" as well as "[l]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".
In February 2015, the album I Love You, Honeybear was released.