This week the focal point of our issue is the upcoming Father John Misty show happening on Sunday, January 18 at the El Rey Theater in Chico. Synthesis had an interview scheduled with Josh Tillman, the man behind the Father John Misty curtain, but at the last minute (the very, very, last minute), the interview was cancelled. What follows is a quintessential Hail Mary. As the interview was cancelled with two days left before we were scheduled to go to print, this will instead be an interview that took place firmly within the confines of my imagination. Granted, it’s a weird place there, fairly inhospitable and a veritable mine field of James Bond trivia and hard opinions about the Oxford Comma. In other words: Bummertown, USA. In any case, please sit back and enjoy this very real and very important* interview conducted with special guest, “Josh Tillman!”
* Not a real or important interview. Please don’t sue us.
Josh Tillman, welcome to my brain.
JT: Thanks for having me. Why are there so many boxes of Grape Nuts stacked up around us?
Well, I was trying to build a Fortress of Solitude within my brain, and I wanted the walls to be fortified with a gravel-like consistency. I’ve heard that Grape Nuts are best for that. They fortify your Fortress (colon) so nothing comes blasting through your b-hole.
So if I may jump right in, I have some questions I’d like to toss your way.
JT: Sure, toss away.
Can you please explain the “Father John Misty” moniker? The inception, the purpose, etc?
JT: I’m actually really happy to finally have a platform to speak out about this. There was an incident, which was the impetus for me leaving Fleet Foxes and branching out with this Father John Misty thing. It centers largely around Beyonce, and dogs.
JT: Dogs. I have a song on my upcoming album (being released February 10th), that addresses the thing that really kickstarted my passion for this issue.
Would you mind elaborating?
JT: Well, I was in the woods tripping pretty hard on mushrooms, and in the middle of it all, this little white dog came up and bit me on my dick—I’ve been cryptic about it in many interviews, but I’m finally ready to elaborate.
Wait, it happened in real life? Or you hallucinated it? I’m confused.
JT: That I’m actually not totally sure about. The dog was a dead ringer for a dog I had as a kid, named Mystikal. I named him after that rapper Mystikal who had that song “Shake Ya Ass.” The lyrics, especially the part that goes “I came here with my dick in my hand, don’t make me leave here with my foot in yo’ ass… nastier than a full grown German Shepherd” really spoke to me. That’s actually where the line “Save me, White Jesus” came from, in my song “Bored In The USA.” Mystikal is the “White Jesus.” Anyway, this little Mystikal-lookin’ dog came out of the woods and bit me on the dick. It hurt, but in that moment I experienced this rush of clarity. In that moment, my path was obvious. I decided then and there to create the Father John Misty persona to follow the Beyonce model for success.
And by that you mean…
JT: Create an onstage persona (enter “Father John Misty”), some booty-shakin’ beats, and start a fashion line. Obviously.
Oh. Do you have a fashion line?
JT: Well, it’s still in the works, but I have a lot of sketches. The backbone of it is adhesive stick-on beards, bodysuits, and player pianos. I also have a silent partner for this project. We initially met at a mountain retreat where you chew tobacco and drink water in hopes of inducing hallucinations and vision quests. His name is Jeffrey, he’s a bit of an unknown in the fashion world, but he brings a lot to the table nonetheless.
JT: There’s just a real strong flow of chill that radiates from his entire being, from his sandaled feet to his chill ass beard.
Are you saying that his beard is “chill ass,” or that he has an “ass beard”? What would that look like? Would it start around the b-hole, or… You know what? I feel like I’ve already brought up buttholes too much during this interview. Forget it. Can you tell me more about this silent partner?
JT: Sure. He’s a real King in this industry. He’s a total Star, Man. He’s just a Fabulous… Boy. With True Grit and a Crazy Heart. I’ve just been Blown Away by how much he brings to this partnership. It’s like when there’s a really bad PR storm that happens, a White Squall of epic proportions, he’s all over it. Anytime I need him, he abides. He’s my champion. I’d bet on him any day, he’s my Seabiscuit. My Iron Man. My… Little Prince.
Um… Josh, I feel like you’re trying to tell me that Jeff Bridges is your silent partner. Is that true?
JT: Ahh, you got me! We were trying to keep it quiet. But now that the beard’s out of the bag, I guess we can talk about it.
You know, Jeff Bridges is playing with his band The Abiders here in Chico shortly after you. Was that intentional?
[At this point in the interview, a large, man-sized fist comes exploding through a Grape Nuts box. A beardy face comes through the hole left in my crumbling Fortress of Solitude. Slowly, the handsome face of Jeff Bridges emerges. What appears to be the high neckline of his glorious, original TRON suit is slightly visible.]
Holy shit! Jeffrey Bridges! I can’t believe you’re here, in MY imagination! Do you mind if I call you Jeffrey?
JB: That’s a little too familiar for my liking.
My apologies. I guess I figured since this is interview is taking place inside my imagination, that I could call the shots.
JB: Well… that was dumb of you.
I like your bodysuit. Is that the original suit from TRON?
JB: No. Dummy. It’s the very latest from the fashion line that Sweet Tillbaby and I started.
Can you describe what you’re wearing for the readers?**
**I know that realistically, the only people who are still reading at this stage in the “interview” are my parents (out of obligation), and those of you stuck at the DMV (for the purpose of killing time). Apologies to all affected parties.
JB: Sure. I’m wearing our trademark bodysuit with neon piping, detachable mock turtleneck, and our very popular Velcro beard.
Wait, you don’t have a beard in real life?
JB: Oh no, I do. But what I’m wearing is our Beard-Extender, which is guaranteed to extend your beard by at least four inches. It attaches onto an existing beard with Velcro. All these products are sold separately, but they’re meant to be worn together.
[At this point, JB gets up and dives headfirst into a stack of old National Geographics stacked precariously next to the Sea of Tranquility***]
***This is actually just a pool I emptied out and filled with old sweaters. It’s where I go to take Benadryl naps.
What do you call this whole look?
JT: We call this the “Honeybear Suit.” Not only is I Love You Honeybear the name of my upcoming album, it’s also the name of our fashion line. This is our signature look.
So from this can I assume that “Honeybear” refers to Jeffrey?
[An old National Geographic featuring the plight of the Pigmy Water Buffalo of New Zealand comes sailing through the air and connects sharply with my left temple]
Pardon me. Mr. Bridges.
JT: No. “Honeybear” is just what we feel we should all aspire to be. There’s a little “Honeybear” in all of us. Or at least, there should be. Wink.
I noticed that earlier you mentioned that player pianos would be included in your fashion line. Does this have anything to do with your recent appearance on The Late Show with David Letterman?
JT: Ah, you’re referring to my very hilarious visual gag during my performance of the song “Bored In The USA” when the camera panned over to me seated at the piano to reveal it was playing itself.
Exactly, the player piano.
JT: It’s a common mistake, but that was not a player piano. Jeffrey was actually hidden in that piano, playing it from the inside. Wearing his Honeybear suit, of course.
That’s crazy, and kind of amazing. I didn’t realize one could play a piano from the inside.
[JB pops his head out of the Sea of Tranquility, now wearing a variety of lumpy, misshapen sweaters over his Honeybear suit]
JB: Yeah, man. That’s a skill I honed over my time prepping for my role in a feature film. It was a really music-heavy role, and when it came time to film they ended up going a different direction with the character.
I’m assuming this was for your role in Crazy Heart?
JB: No, Big Lebowski. That scene where he’s hallucinating, and you see all the great costumes with the heavy bowling theme—that was originally supposed to be drawn out for the entire movie. The character of “The Dude” was going to be a Schoolhouse Rock-style piano with a man inside that you never see. At the last minute though, Joel and Ethan [the Coen brothers] decided that it would be too hard for the audience to relate to a Piano Man that they never get to actually see. I gather that Joel Coen ended up reusing some of the same principles when he was an Executive Producer for Bad Santa.
I don’t recall there being a piano character in that movie.
JB: Yeah, but remember the kid? That was actually a much smaller child wearing a full-body fat suit. It was basically the same principle.
Well, we’re just about out of time here in Bummertown (my imagination). Is there anything else the two of you would like to add?
JB: You owe me $100 for this bullshit meet and greet.
I guess I figured since this was an on-site interview in my nightmare factory that I’d at least get a discount. Can you make an exception? We have so much in common! I too hate the fucking Eagles!
JB: Make it $125.
I can give you four mismatched buttons and a lint ball that I’ve been working on since the 4th grade. It’s as big as a cat head now!
JT: I can’t believe you actually dragged me out to this shithole of an imagination for this dumb interview.
I know. Next time don’t cancel the interview.
JT: Next time I’ll host the interview in my imagination. It’s lovely there. Lush beards and Honeybear Suits as far as the eye can see…
Don’t miss Father John Misty at the El Rey Theatre on January 18th, and Jeff Bridges and the Abiders at Laxson Auditorium on January 24th!