J Tillman Biography
J Tillman (Joshua Michael Tillman) was born in, Rockville, Maryland, United States. He is an American folk singer, guitarist, drummer, record producer, and songwriter. He is also known as J. Tillman, Father John Misty.
Tillman has been recording solos since 2004. He has also made contributions to albums by popular artists, including Beyoncé, Lady Gaga, and Kid Cudi.
J Tillman Age
Tillman was born on May 3, 1981, Origin Rockville, Maryland, U.S. He is 37 years old as of 2019.
J Tillman Family
Tillman was born, in Rockville, Maryland, United States to Barbara and I.C. Tillman, an engineer at Hewlett-Packard. He grew up in an Evangelical Christian household. Tillman is the oldest of four children, a brother, and two sisters.
J Tillman Wife
J Tillman met his wife Emma Elizabeth Tillman, a photographer in Los Angeles at the Laurel Canyon Country Store. The two later got married in Big Sur.
J Tillman Height
J Tillman stands at 1.88 m tall
J Tillman Image
J Tillman Career
While in College, he found a job working at a bakery, which allowed him to record at night before his 4:30 am shift began.
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. Tillman later released two albums in 2009, Vacilando Territory Blues and Year In The Kingdom.
He played drums in the Demon Hunter at the Christian metalcore band and also at the Fleet Foxes
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.
J Tillman Albums
- Untitled No. 1 (2003)
- I Will Return (2004)
- Long May You Run, J. Tillman (2006)
- Minor Works (2006)
- Cancer and Delirium (2007)
- Vacilando Territory Blues (2009)
- Year in the Kingdom (2009)
- Singing Ax (2010)
- Fear Fun (2012)
- I Love You, Honeybear (2015)
- Pure Comedy (2017)
- God’s Favorite Customer (2018)
- with Fleet Foxes
- Helplessness Blues (2011)
- Be a Bright Blue (2002)
- Four Months of Darkness (2003)
J Tillman Tour
- Cage the elephant, central park, 3 may, Atlanta, GA, United States
- J. Tillman, Kelvingrove Park, 2 August, Glasgow, United Kingdom
- Paredes de coura festival 2019, 14 Aug • Caminha, Portugal
- 16 Aug • Viana do Castelo District, Portugal
J Tillman Three Sisters
J Tillman wrote the song Three sisters from the album Singing Ax and was released in 2010.
J Tillman Fleet Foxes
He worked with Fleet Foxes between 2004 to 2012 as their drummer, an American indie folk band formed in Seattle, Washington and which promoted the album Helplessness Blues.
J Tillman Tonight’s The Night
He released the song Tonight’s the Night in 2010, which was composed by Neil Young a Canadian singer and published by Silver Fiddle.
J Tillman Minor Works
Minor Works was his the first album by to be released on an official label: Fargo Records. It was completed after three limited CDr albums and a tour EP
J Tillman Year In The Kingdom
It was released via Western Vinyl. On the label’s website, it reads: “Unknown to just about everyone,
J Tillman I Will Return
I Will Return, is J Tillman second album, which was originally released in 2004 and later in 2005 it was re-released in a limited edition of 150 copies through Keep Recordings. In 2007 it was again re-released together with Long May You Run, J. Tillman on Fargo Records as a double-CD.
J Tillman Video
J Tillman Interview
Published: 09 March 2009, 08:00 GMT
Hey Josh, how are you doing?
I’m a little wiped out: we flew in from Stockholm early this morning and I haven’t really stopped. We’ve been living pretty hard on this tour and it’s kind of caught up with me today, but I’m good, excited.
Really unexpectedly great.
I think I have pretty low expectations of my own musical performance, but I don’t mean that in a self-deprecating way. It was great fun though and people knew our stuff which was cool. Also, I think I’m taking a lot of people by surprise because I’m touring with a band for the first time, so in general that has been interesting and different.
How have you found the response to Vacilando Territory Blues?
I’m not really sure, I get a lot of the critical responses but I just think “whatever” to those. I think people really like it, a few of the tunes are beginning to resonate with people and I feel like the live shows have elevated some of the tunes. And you know, I’m relatively happy with it.
Only ‘relatively’ happy with it? How would you describe this album in comparison to your past efforts?
Well, it is different in that I was less interested in making a certain kind of album this time around. With previous albums, from the get-go, I would get an idea in my head like this is going to be the ‘country ballad’ record or this is going to be the ‘obtuse, lo-fi’ thing. That sounds disingenuous but it’s not, I just get really excited by the prospect of making lots of songs that relate to one another, but in a slightly weird disjointed way. On this record, I fail to lie three or four times in a row at making those connections but at the end of the day, I had all these songs and them kind of work. It is actually quite cool because the record dictated to me what it was as opposed to vice-versa.
So would you say there were any prevalent themes or ideas that drove the songs on the album?
Not particularly, I mean I could just sit here and make up an answer for the sake of it but I guess I’m more interested in what other people see in it, rather than dictating what it means.
The title track is certainly a beautifully crafted song, what is the story behind its’ delicate melody?
That song is about me moving to Seattle and the images that I associate with that journey. And obviously it is about my brother, and him subsequently moving to Seattle. At that point we hadn’t really spoken for a few years because we were kind of figuring out life on our own, it was as if we needed to become individuals for a few years. So yeah, it’s about being brothers, and I mean the end of the song says it all. I just wanted the song to be really literal, I wanted my brother to be able to instantly know that it was about him and for him.
I read somewhere that in Spanish “Vacilando” means to care more about the journey than the destination. Do think that is an accurate description of your approach or your music?
I saw that word for the first time in John Steinbeck’s ‘Travels with Charley’ and it struck me just phonetically, I just thought it was a cool word. He also described it as meaning to wander with no preset destination but I’ve head about15 different definitions. The definition wasn’t particularly important to me, I just liked the way it sounded but actually, I guess it probably ended up being a little too appropriate, more appropriate than I would have liked. It is interesting when you make an album and live with it for a little while how things start to reveal themselves to you. So, yes the word does fit well but I don’t want to be heavy-handed with that, you know it’s not like I’m a wanderer alone on a highway to nowhere!
So, speaking of journeys, how did your musical one begin? Even before it became a career?
I started playing music with my brother when I was about 12 and he was 11. I was obsessed with music but the idea of becoming good at the guitar bored me to tears, I’m not really technically proficient on any instrument. I just learned enough chords so I could write songs, although I have accidentally improved over the years. Progression is pretty slow though: over the course of the past five years, I’ve probably become as good as most 16-year-olds do over the course of five lessons. I was much more interested in songwriting, I probably fancied myself as a person who really had something to say. I think it is just a bad habit I have stuck with really, as a way to identify myself. I don’t know why but everybody seems to need a way to identify themselves, be it like “I’m Funny” or “I’m smart” or “I’m a songwriter” or “I’m a drummer”, I think we just cling on to that thing for dear life because if we don’t have it we’re lost. So I guess my musical journey has been all about figuring out who I am through the process of making records. I think I am now coming to the other side of that where I can just view myself as myself, and not get on stage and feel I have to present some false, disingenuous version of myself.
So was it as a ‘drummer’, a ‘guitarist’ or ‘singer-songwriter’ that you first identified yourself as?
Well, my first instrument was the drums. As a kid I had all this nervous energy so I would just constantly tap on things, eventually, my parents thought if they got me to drum lessons I would stop tapping. The minute I picked up those drumsticks it was just over for me, I was just like ‘this is it.’ My drum teacher was like this legendary DC Jazz musician, but I would never really be prepared for practice so he used to get pretty frustrated with me, tell me I was throwing my parent’s money away and suggest I try the clarinet or something. He saw me playing years later and I saw him nodding as if to say ‘not bad’ and that was like the ultimate approval. But drumming was something that I only really did in high school after that I got so into songwriting that I ceased to identify myself as a drummer.
What kind of music did you listen to when you were younger and was it just as important as actually playing instruments?
No, not at all really. I think the whole idea that it is important to be exposed to great music when your young is a fallacy, because if my parents had played, what they deemed, great music to me I would have hated it and done everything I could have to listen to the opposite. I grew up around Christian music, really terrible Christian music because my parents listened to it all the time. It is weird that I gravitated towards music so much because I hated its association with the Church: and that is how I knew music when I was younger because we weren’t allowed secular music in the house. Maybe I felt I had to reclaim it for myself.
But, I’m actually glad I didn’t grow up with that much musical input from my parents because I got to discover people like Neil Young in a very neutral way: I just thought “this is amazing” not, “oh god this is something dad would play”. Although there was a Peter Gabriel record that my dad was really into which I loved and still listen to. But generally, I’m glad I don’t have to associate any of the music I like with my parents.
Can you remember what the first record you bought was?
That would have been Petra On Fire. Petra is like this heavy-metal Christian band that my brother and I pooled our allowances to buy. I even remember us opening the cellophane on the cassette together, but I didn’t really buy records because there wasn’t a whole lot of freedom to do that sort of thing. I mean I would ravenously pour through my friends’ records when I was at their houses’, I just listened to whatever I could get my hands on. In fact, because my parents would allow secular music in the house I began to ask myself what “secular bands” have put out “Christian” albums. So I went and bought like U2’s Joshua Tree and Slow Train Coming by Bob Dylan.
How important was discovering Dylan for you as a musician?
I didn’t know anything about Dylan when I bought that record, I vaguely knew the name but nothing else. I just put the record on and thought there was something amazing about this guy, slightly crazy, but amazing. In fact, the last song on that record is called ‘When He Returns’ which is just like this gospel, piano-led epic piece of music so after hearing that I went out and bought New Morning and Nashville Skyline and all these other weird Dylan records. I went about it in a weird, totally wrong way. Usually, you hear the classics first but I just heard these bizarre records like Oh Mercy. I remember just thinking “this guy is crazy” and then eventually I found my way to The Times They Are A-Changin’ and I thought this is it. My life just totally changed and I know everybody says that about their Dylan experience, but it is really true for me, it inspired me to go and do what I do now.
What about the first gig that you yourself played? Do you remember how you felt or being nervous at all?
After hearing that Dylan record I immediately started writing Dylan rip-offs. I played them at my High School in senior year, which was probably the first time my friends had seen me play guitar and do my own thing. It was really liberating and fun, I don’t remember being nervous – I was too excited! Also, I didn’t really see it as being a reflection on my worth, I was more excited about exploring the possibilities of singing and writing songs. I didn’t think anyone could actually become a songwriter and make records professionally; I didn’t know what I was going to do. I don’t want to make myself sound too doe-eyed or anything but I didn’t know the first thing about starting a band or getting signed. That was just a really exciting time for me, spiritually and intellectually as far as like starting the process of not being spiritual.
So before you realized that you could actually become a musician professionally was there anything that you wanted to be as a kid?
For a long time, I wanted to be a Pastor because that was my idea of being a performer, that was the closest I could imagine myself getting. I was actually a pretty aimless kid, I didn’t really do anything: I never really studied hard and all my parents were interested in was my spiritual stated. When I was younger my reality was heaven and hell and angels and all this bullshit that doesn’t mean anything in terms of becoming an actualized human being.
Your music has such a raw honesty to it, how does performing now make you feel?
I’ve only started to really enjoy playing live within the last year or so. It has been pretty torturous I’d say. I really enjoy it now though, I feel like when I was younger I was just taking myself too seriously: when you are young you give yourself license to get indignant when people don’t understand what a fucking genius you are! My mind was really poisoned by the idea of success I guess, and now I’m recalibrating my reasons for playing music.
How was the idea of success poisonous?
Because I wasn’t writing songs just to make music I wanted to, I started to think of it in terms of ‘this needs to happen because I can’t do construction for the rest of my life and I can’t make coffee for the rest of my life and I looked at music my escape, my way out of life’s drudgery. Then when you start playing music professionally, you realize there is just as much drudgery as anything else.
Since joining Fleet Foxes last year and touring with them, how would you say that your solo career or music has been affected? Has it changed in any way?
No, it hasn’t really changed at all. People have really exaggerated my involvement with Fleet Foxes; they had two records done by the time I joined the band and the writing was already on the wall that they were going to be the next big thing. I just learned the drum parts for their songs and tried to execute them as best as I could. I didn’t write anything you know, I didn’t really contribute anything creatively other than I hit the drums a little harder than their previous drummer! They would be just as good and just as successful without me so…. The whole thing is just kind of a head fuck. Sometimes in interviews, just out of necessity, you have to make up an answer and pretend like you are a part of the process but then you say those things enough times and you start to forget how it really is. It is more work to explain the reality of the situation than just to play along and do what you have to do to get to lunch, and get a sandwich!
Do you think there will be more of a collaborative effort with Fleet Foxes the future then?
There are big plans for that but I’m not sure how it will play out. I’m just as comfortable with the idea of being told what to do as I am with contributing something. I’m just really interested in serving the song as a drummer, and someone bringing a whole song to me is more exciting than sitting around having a head-scratching session for days on end.
Do you think the recent influx of internet-born singer-songwriters is a good thing or do you think it has become too easy to get lost in the crowd?
I don’t really know if it’s a good or bad thing. I think that if people are making great music they manage to transcend whatever idiotic bureaucracy is currently distributing music to the masses. There is no rhyme and reason for this kind of stuff. There are great bands that make it big and obviously there are terrible bands that make it big; sometimes good bands make it big because of the internet, sometimes they don’t. It is just complete anarchy out there and if you try to make sense of that stuff you will lose the plot for sure.
Finally, is there anything you are currently listening to that you think everyone should hear?
Actually,y, on the playlist, I made for this tour is a guy called Jack Rose who is just an incredibly, really inspired guitar player. James Blackshaw whose instrumental, 12 string guitar-led songs I’ve been really into at the moment. I’ve also been listening to a lot of a band called Earth at the moment. They play like this sludgy metal and they have really long biblical track titles. They’re a Seattle-based band as well and they’ve been around forever. The story is that Dylan Carlson, the lead guy, was involved in the transaction of Kurt Cobain getting a shot-gun which is seriously dark. If anyone is going to play metal then it is him. I’m constantly listening to music, so I would recommend doing that. I just love it: it is transformative in the way that religion is supposed to be transformative. It changes everything about a scenario or a season of your life.