Father John Misty Talks Pure Comedy, Politics, & Foucault On Beats 1
Father John Misty has a new album, Pure Comedy, coming out in a few months. And if you’re Father John Misty, your album press cycle consists largely of holding forth on the human condition to anyone who cares to listen. Josh Tillman recently sat down for an interview with Zane Lowe on Beats 1, and, as expected, he had a lot of thoughts about a lot of things. Here’s what he had to say about the album itself:
I just knew I wanted to make something fundamentally different than anything I had made before, and so my life was gonna have to reflect a fundamental change too. A lot of the songs of the first two records were like, four in the morning, drunk in bed with pizza hanging out of my mouth. It was very one to one, I had this experience and this song came to of it. This record — this is the way that I felt my whole life. So in that way I’ve been refining these ideas for a long time.
And here’s what he had to say about some lyrics (“Where did they find these goons they elected to rule them?/ What makes these clowns they idolize so remarkable?”) from the LP’s title track:
When I started writing this album I just felt really aware of the failure of political solutions for the human experience. And when I wrote “these goons they elected to rule them,” that goes beyond the political elect who rules us in a million different ways day in and day out. We give people power over us in an infinite number of ways before you even get to politics. I think that we absolve ourselves of a certain personal responsibility via politics. It’s kind of a stand-in for the much harder decisions about the way we want to live and who we want to have control.
And, of course, he managed to throw in a little reference to revered French theorist Michel Foucault:
There is something about Trump that — I mean, I have to choose my words carefully, but Foucault said it’s better to have a king because you can see the king coming at least, and then you can defend yourself and you can unlock an authentic form of defiance. And relating to the power structure that way, he thought, was more natural to the human disposition or experience or whatever. Fast forward to now, where the power structure is largely sending these messages of “be yourself,” “have fun,” “find something you’re passionate about,” “be an individual,” “be a rebel,” and those messages. When the power structure is telling you to rebel it makes it so it’s very difficult to have an authentic form of rebellion and it is in no way a good thing unless you take a really macro view. But in the day-to-day now, people are experiencing psychic trauma in a way that they probably haven’t in their life — they’re scared it’s like there’s an evil king. But it’s definitely clarifying, it brings everything into focus in a way that a more established form of politics allows us to get away with never really having to examine.
The full interview will air tomorrow at at 10AM PT.