By the time the laughter started, Josh Tillman had turned away from a piano that appeared to be playing itself, paced the stage in front of a 22-piece orchestra and climbed like a cabaret singer back on top of the grand, where he pleaded for salvation from “white Jesus.” Tillman, the former Fleet Foxes member who previously recorded somber folk as J. Tillman, benefits from an impression of bearded earnestness, but he has found his most success so far in his guise as the puckish Father John Misty. Two years after that project’s debut, 2012′s Fear Fun, Tillman was on Late Show with David Letterman last night performing “Bored in the USA,” a Bruce Springsteen-nodding live-show staple, when he finally got the audience guffawing with mentions of his “useless education, a “subprime loan” and how he “can’t get off.”
“Bored in the U.S.A.” is from the follow-up to Fear Fun, titled I Love You, Honeybear, which label Sub Pop announced last night will be available on February 10 (and February 9 in Europe via Bella Union — see our coverage of the industry debate over having a single global release day). Tillman produced the album, which he describes as “a concept album about a guy named Josh Tillman,” with Fear Fun collaborator Jonathan Wilson, with mixing by Phil Ek and mastering by Greg Calbi at Sterling Sound. Tillman also, for what it’s worth, barely cracked a smile on Letterman, leaving open the possibility the greatest joke is that this bleak examination of contemporary American consumer culture is deadly serious.
Below you can find the Letterman performance and the I Love You, Honeybear tracklist and cover art, plus new Father John Misty tour dates and an epic statement from Tillman about the album. In the word of the bard, “Blammo”:
I Love You, Honeybear (February 10, Sub Pop)
1. I Love You, Honeybear
2. Chateau Lobby #4 (in C for Two Virgins)
3. True Affection
4. The Night Josh Tillman Came To Our Apt.
5. When You’re Smiling and Astride Me
6. Nothing Good Ever Happens At the Goddamn Thirsty Crow
7. Strange Encounter
8. The Ideal Husband
9. Bored In The USA
10. Holy Shit
11. I Went To The Store One Day
Father John Misty tour dates:
1/16 Felton, CA – Bret Harte Hall
1/17 Sonoma, CA – Vet’s Hall Ballroom
1/18 Chico, CA – El Rey Theatre
2/9 Los Angeles, CA – Roxy *
2/12 Brooklyn, NY – Rough Trade NYC *
2/14 New York, NY – Bowery Ballroom *
2/16 Montreal, Quebec – Virgin Mobile Corona Theater *
2/18 Toronto, Ontario – Danforth Music Hall *
2/21 Dublin, Ireland – Whelans
2/22 Glasgow, Scotland – King Tuts
2/23 Manchester, England – Gorilla
2/26 London, England – Village Underground
2/27 Leeds, England – Brudenell Social Club
2/28 Bristol, England – Thekla
3/3 Paris, France – La Maroquinerie
3/4 Brussels, Belgium – Botanique – Orangerie
3/5 Amsterdam, Netherlands – Paradiso
3/7 Berlin, Germany – Privatclub
3/8 Hamburg, Germany – Nochtspeicher
3/25 Nashville, TN – Marathon Music Works +
3/26 Atlanta, GA – Variety Playhouse +
3/27 Asheville, NC – The Orange Peel +
3/28 Washington, DC – 9:30 Club +
3/31 Boston, MA – Paradise Rock Club +
4/1 Philadelphia, PA – Union Transfer +
4/3 Chicago, IL – Vic Theater +
4/4 Minneapolis, MN – First Ave +
4/7 Lawrence, KS – Granada +
4/8 Omaha, NE – The Waiting Room +
4/9 Denver, CO – Ogden Theater
4/22 Dallas, TX – Granada Theater ^
4/23 Houston, TX – Fitzgerald’s ^
4/24 Austin, TX – Stubb’s ^
4/25 New Orleans, LA – Civic Theater ^
* with Guy Blakeslee
+ with King Tuff
^ with Luluc
“I Love You, Honeybear was recorded all through 2013 to 2014 in Los Angeles with producer Jonathan Wilson, who I also recorded and produced 2012’s Fairly Fun with. There’s a case to be made that it sounds and acts a bit like solo-era John Lennon, Scott Walker, Randy Newman, Harry Nilsson, and Dory Previn, while taking more than a few cues from Woody Allen, Kurt Vonnegut, Alejandro Jodorowsky and Muhammad Ali. It has a decidedly more soulful presence than Fear Fun, due in no small part to the fact that I am truly singing my ass off all over this motherfucker. The album is really characterized by the scope and ambition of the arrangements. Nearly every tune is augmented by something special, be it orchestral strings, a mariachi band, questionable electronic drum solos, ragtime jazz combos, soul singers, or what have you. I’m pretty sure there’s a sitar in there somewhere. Blammo.
“I Love You, Honeybear is a concept album about a guy named Josh Tillman who spends quite a bit of time banging his head against walls, cultivating weak ties with strangers and generally avoiding intimacy at all costs. This all serves to fuel a version of himself that his self-loathing narcissism can deal with. We see him engaging in all manner of regrettable behavior.
“In a parking lot somewhere he meets Emma, who inspires in him a vision of a life wherein being truly seen is not synonymous with shame, but possibly true liberation and sublime, unfettered creativity. These ambitions are initially thwarted as jealousy, self-destruction and other charming human character traits emerge. Josh Tillman confesses as much all throughout.
“The album progresses, sometimes chronologically, sometimes not, between two polarities: the first of which is the belief that the best love can be is finding someone who is miserable in the same way you are and the end point being that love isn’t for anyone who isn’t interested in finding a companion to undertake total transformation with. I won’t give away the ending, but sex, violence, profanity and excavations of the male psyche abound.
“My ambition, aside from making an indulgent, soulful, and epic sound worthy of the subject matter, was to address the sensuality of fear, the terrifying force of love, the unutterable pleasures of true intimacy, and the destruction of emotional and intellectual prisons in my own voice. Blammo.
“This material demanded a new way of being made, and it took a lot of time before the process revealed itself. The massive, deranged shmaltz I heard in my head, and knew had to be the sound of this record, originated a few years ago while Emma and I were hallucinating in Joshua Tree; the same week I wrote the title track. I chased that sound for the entire year and half we were recording. The means by which it was achieved bore a striking resemblance to the travails, abandon and transformation of learning how to love and be loved; see and be seen. There: I said it. Blammo.