Joshua Tillman, better known as Father John Misty, makes it clear that working on his new album “I Love You, Honeybear” (out today) was not enjoyable for him. “I process the experiences of my life by writing about them, and that includes experiences that are brutal, confusing or whatever [else],"he tells us. “I do a pretty good job of preventing myself from enjoying any phase of it, though I did enjoy playing the drums on this album."
Exploring love’s dark corners
In the two years since the last (and only other) Father John Misty album came out, Tillman got married, but you won’t hear any sappy love songs on “I Love You, Honeybear.” These songs show the dark side of intimacy; Tillman says he wanted to throw out the blueprint for how love has been written about in the past.
“For the album cover, I put a picture of myself as a baby nursing at a goddess’s breast. … I had this encounter with intimacy, which brought out these characteristics in me like jealousy and pettiness. I basically turned into a baby, which is not great,” he says.
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Facing the fear of being honest
Tillman says our culture prevents many from achieving true intimacy because of the pressure to create fake-yet-better versions of ourselves online. “If you posted half the s— that I admit in my album on an online dating profile, you’d be alone for the rest of your life,” he says. “But you can’t be intimate without revealing these aspects of yourself and there’s no shame in who you ‘really are.’” But that can’t necessarily be true. After all, Tillman found someone.
While writing songs gives Tillman the opportunity to explore the more uncomfortable sides of himself, he’s also writing a novel that he says allows him to have a longer dialog with himself. “It’s about an attack of post-apocalyptic Chihuahuas,” he says, with no irony whatsoever. “What I’m trying to figure out in my writing is what makes me tick and why my world is so bleak. … In my songs, there are other people. But in my novel writing, I find that every character is me.” Just imagine the book cover.
Father John Misty in concert
If you go:
New York City
Thursday, Feb. 12, 8 p.m.
Rough Trade NYC
64 N. 9th St., Brooklyn
Saturday, Feb. 14, 9 p.m.
The Bowery Ballroom
6 Delancey St., 212-533-2111
Tuesday, March 31, 7 p.m.
Paradise Rock Club
967 Commonwealth Ave., 617-562-8800
Wednesday, April 1, 8 p.m.
1026 Spring Garden St., 215-232-2100
Follow Emily on Twitter: @EmLaurence