Josh tillman on producers, release cycles and “calling the shots” with guitarists
The FJM album this feels closest to, musically, may be Fear Fun. Was there any attempt to get back to your ‘roots’?
GFC was a lot like Fear Fun in that I was working with someone new [ Jonathan
Rado] in a pretty low-stakes situation. You’ve also got a lot of me overdubbing myself, which lends the rhythm tracks overall a certain seasickness.
Pure Comedy was such an epic – musically, lyrically and texturally. Was this album a direct reaction to that?
In hindsight, the ennui in Pure Comedy would probably have more naturally suited itself to the mid- to lo-fi production style of this album. Conversely, expensive-sounding heartbreak ballads always go over pretty well, so… just goes to show what I know about all this.
This follows very soon after
Pure Comedy – was that part of a plan, or rather the result of a flood of new songs?
This one needed to go down near the blast site, so to speak. If I had waited the industry standard amount of time between cycles I might not have been able to find a way back into the songs.
“Hangout…” has a real Beatles feel (much like “…Sally Hatchet”). Are they an important inspiration for you?
Me referencing ‘The White Album’ in the studio has become a bit of a running joke.
You have a great way with an unexpected melody/harmony (“Mr Tillman”, particularly, is almost modal). Is this something that you consciously work on, or does it come naturally?
Whatever that is comes naturally – for the most part I could only describe what I’m doing musically in the broadest terms possible.
This is your first album without Jonathan Wilson as the primary producer – why was that?
He’s out with Roger Waters, but he gave the whole thing a once over with me when he had a break between tours.
What was it like working with Jonathan Rado? What does he bring to the process?
I knew Rado and I would get along the first time I worked with him on an Adam Green track. I’m so thankful he came into the picture at the moment he did. We were mutual fans and I think both excited to see what new dimension the other had going. Dave Cerminara, Wilson’s engineer, was also really involved all the way through on the record. Dave and I have both learned so much from Jojo, it’s kind of like he’s there anyway.
Are you feeling increasingly comfortable calling the shots, arrangement-wise, in the studio?
Communicating to lead guitar players still drives me up the wall. I’ll sing lead parts to people and won’t let them off the hook for however long it takes. The guitar leads on …
Honeybear underwent tons of comping and editing until I was happy. Far fewer shots have to be called once you have people around you trust. People eventually pick up on all the deeply unintuitive stuff I’m after. Jon Titterington and Dave Vandervelde both played incredible shit all over this record.
Can you describe the recording process for this album? How long did it take? I assume you worked in a few different studios, considering tracks have differing producer credits?
There were a few days where in the morning Rado and I would do rhythm tracks and then head over to Wilson’s that night to do overdubs with Dave. All told, the record probably took no more than three weeks.
I presume there has been a much shorter period between recording and release for this album than, say, Pure Comedy. Which process do you prefer, and has it made you feel differently about the songs?
Writing in the winter and recording in the spring is the most natural cycle for me. If touring and all that allows, I don’t see why I shouldn’t be able to keep that up for a while.
How do you feel this album fits into the FJM canon so far?
Based on tequila intake alone, I’d say it’s probably my Tonight’s The Night.
“Me referencing ‘The White Album’ in the studio has become a bit of a running joke” JOSH TILLMAN