Coachella 2013 artist spotlight: Father John Misty

The former Fleet Foxes drummer floats into the desert to bring his soaring, soulful take on folk rock to the Coachella masses.

Photograph: Maximilla Lukacs
Father John Misty

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It came as a shock when Josh Tillman relinquished his position as drummer for Fleet Foxes, a group of bearded men who possess the superpower to lull a crowd to sleep in seamless harmony. Having cut ties with the melodious fivesome in 2011, Tillman trekked down the coast from Seattle “with enough mushrooms to choke a horse”—his words, not ours—settled in Laurel Canyon and was reborn as solo artist Father John Misty.

Along the way, Tillman shed his cop-stopping Jesus hairdo and picked up a sense of humor, all of which gives Fear Fun, his eighth album and the first under his new moniker, a surprisingly convivial tone that pokes fun at sex, death and Tillman himself. In the country-tinged “I’m Writing a Novel,” the vocalist tells personal stories of bizarre Hollywood mischief and hedonism gone awry: “I ran down the road, pants down to my knees, screaming, ‘Please come help me, that Canadian shaman gave a little too much to me!’ ”

Issued last May, Fear Fun still harbors qualities of the albums produced during Tillman’s days in Fleet Foxes flannel. “O I Long to Feel Your Arms Around Me,” featuring Tillman’s cascading vocals and slow-paced supernatural arrangements, conjures nostalgia for the immaculate harmonizing of his former group. Yet freedom from his four-year stint and a change in scenery appear to have lifted the artist out of a post-Foxes depression, even as madcap cynic Father John Misty has established himself as a solo act to be reckoned with.—Maya Friedman

Father John Misty plays Coachella Sunday April 14 and Sunday April 21.


 Download Fear Fun on Amazon
 Download "Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings" on Amazon


Follow Maya Friedman on Twitter: @mcfried7

This article originally appeared in Time Out New York on January 10, 2013.

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