Father John Misty: Microdosing on acid and melancholy

What is that? He has written songs for Lady Gaga and Beyoncé, and toured with Lana Del Ray. Then I got into the real world. The way I see myself is just as distorted as the perception. It’s humiliating.”

Among women
In a societal sense – given he’s still happily married to photographer Emma Elizabeth, the muse of I Love You Honeybear – Tillman seems to have a special interest in women. Pure Comedy is out on April 7th Musically, he name-checks Taylor Swift on the new album (though critiquing our culture with the lyrics “bedding Taylor Swift every night inside the Oculus Rift” isn’t the most sensitive of moves). That’s the story of the 20th century: ingrained forms of control.”

He offers eloquent, well-considered opinions about control until the “it” crowd at the bar invade. We’ll say it again: Josh Tillman is not a man you could talk to hungover. “What really rubs me the wrong way is the moment a woman enters the music industry, they’re told they can’t write their own songs. Women should not have to be thinking about whether they’re even having control over their own bodies when they’re making this decision. Tillman’s patient, but the level at which he operates means he’s not someone you could talk to hungover. From what little I’ve seen of it, I cannot believe the soft control that is evidenced.”

For his own part, Tillman is well aware of the privilege afforded to him. actually, that’s not a soundbite I want,” he says, with a journalist’s radar. It’s one of those issues that really confronts the neuroses of a culture, and their ability to hold two ideas in their head at the same time: abortion can be sad but essential. “All of the nuance aside, I can only imagine how demeaning it is to have the decision made by a group of old white men. I’m more of a fan of music journalism than I am of the music that’s covered. I don’t want to talk about the way I’m perceived. And the beard is gone, replaced by a GQ moustache. “These differences we view as being so fundamental are largely semantic outside of a few major issues, which largely affect women. “But they’re told other people will write songs, and what’s the tacit message there? I have a soft spot for Interpol. Women are where the crux of this social divide is, because women are subject to real explicit forms of control.”

I explain that Ireland knows this all too well, given our current fight for abortion rights. That’s not to say that the perception is 100 per cent wrong, but it’s like performing. Tillman listens carefully, taking a drag from a cigarette. Pure Comedy comes with multiple styles of vinyl covers and a ream of linear notes (including a 143-word sentence, surely a record). “And it serves a double whammy because, nine times out of 10,it’s an emotionally complicated issue. Joshua Tillman aka Father John Misty on stage in July 2015, at the Capitol Hill Block Party in Seattle. “There’s something very disingenuous about using abortion as an issue,” he says. Pond are some friends. Scattered among its political critiques and existential theories is the idea that liberal and conservatives have mirrored thinking, an aspect borne after Tillman freed himself from his evangelical upbringing in Maryland. “I like Vincent Staples quite a bit,” he says. “When I left home at 18,” he says, “I thought, oh thank God, I’m leaving crazy world and going into the real world, where things are sane. It is ironic that he feels he has an image problem, give that today he looks so stylish: ankle-flashing espadrilles, a low-buttoned white shirt, hobo-chic coat. “I love Perfume Genius. Maybe we’ve caught Tillman on a good day. Rappers talk very openly about taking weed, but there’s a bigger fu*k you in that because black people go to prison for weed every day. So we’re all subject to messaging that’s in some way larger than us. “Abso-fu*king-lutely. That’s just a losing battle. Photograph: Mat Hayward/Getty Images

“Female singers are obviously a massive preoccupation for me,” he replies in his deadpan manner. Deep diver
It is entirely appropriate to Tillman’s deep-dive thinking that his third album as Father John Misty is a lyrically and musically dense discourse on the human condition. You couldn’t say you knew me based on a performance of me shaking my hips. He cites a recent Rolling Stone interview in which he admits to taking a microdose of acid every day to self-medicate his anxiety. “I don’t want to talk about the way I’m perceived. If girls who wanted to be singers were told right from the outset they should get really good at writing, the music world would look a lot different. I started to see religious thinking all over the place, in liberal and more explicitly in conservative thinking, but it was called something different. White guys like me do not go to prison for using acid. “Look how outrageously privileged it is of me to talk about that; here I am brazenly telling the press about my drug use and going along my merry way. And we can leave it at that.”

What he’s like is someone who’s partial to bone-dry humour and intense conversation. That was the beginning of awkward BBC radio interviews, Daily Mail pap shots and a general reputation for being cantankerous. It’s very weird.”

Isn’t an outcome of being white too? But I don’t keep up with music. There’s something in that critical thought that feels relaxing to me.”

Yet when it comes to Tillman’s own press, his references to the media (on stage, on social media, during this interview, in other interviews) suggests that he follows closely the way in which he is portrayed, especially since his second solo album, 2015’s I Love You Honeybear, delivered him a higher profile. We can talk and you can see what I’m like. That’s just a losing battle

“I’m not as antagonistic as… Hidden in the corner of an otherwise see and be seen London bar, Josh Tillman, aka Father John Misty, is perusing the Electric Picnic line-up, a festival he is returning to after last appearing as the drummer for Fleet Foxes in 2009.