Long before joining the acclaimed lo-fi act Fleet Foxes, drummer Josh Tillman has been a solo act for many years. Like his band, he writes songs about nature and sounds like it was recorded in a house in the middle of nowhere. Among touring and recording with Fleet Foxes last year Tillman released his latest solo effort, A Year in the Kingdom. I had the opportunity to speak with Tillman about his solo work and I found the musician as mundane as his music. Take a look at my interview with J. Tillman as we discussed his solo work and touring with the band and as a solo artist.
Off the bat, A Year in the Kingdom sounds very stripped and bare, yet lyrically very dense and heavy. Did you choose for the music arrangements to be minimal in order for the listener to focus on the lyrics?
JT: I chose minimal arrangements because I like minimal music.
What does A Year in the Kingdom mean? Is it heaven? A Woman? Music?
JT: It pertains to the elasticity of memory.
After the success that Fleet Foxes has been receiving, was it difficult making the transition to work on solo material? Or was it a necessity to do?
JT: I never transitioned from one to the other.
You have released a plethora of solo material, how does Year in the Kingdom differ from your other releases?
JT: The songs, album art, etc.
The cover art for A Year in the Kingdom is very interesting. Who came up with the concept?
JT: Mario Hugo.
You joined Fleet Foxes in 2008 after the band had already formed. How did you get involved with those guys? Was it weird being the new guy in the band?
JT: I've been friends with them for a while, you'd have to ask them why they asked me to join.
Do any of the members of Fleet Foxes guest on the record? Did they lend any encouragement or ideas?
JT: Casey played piano on a couple songs.
2009 was a tremendous year for Fleet Foxes, playing all the major festivals, opening for Neil Young at Hard Rock Calling. Is it weird going from the major stages with the band to playing small clubs and theaters as a solo artist?
JT: No, I've been doing that for years.
What does 2010 have in store for J. Tillman?
JT: I have no idea.
J. Tillman "Firstborn" Music Video (Top) / Fleet Foxes "White Winter Hymnal" (Below)
Thanks to Grace Jones for the interview.