Father John Misty has the perfect explanation for why he quit Twitter this summer.
“Imagine if Twitter was a physical space: Would you ever go there?” asks the sardonic singer-songwriter. “I just decided to stop going to that bar. It’s like, the worst bar.”
It’s certainly a less interesting place to visit in the absence of Josh Tillman, 36, who’s developed a polarizing reputation for withering sarcasm and cynical rants as folk artist Father John Misty. Fortunately, you can still find him on the road this fall on his 21-city North American tour, which kicks off Wednesday in Boston.
Tillman recently caught up with USA TODAY to chat touring, pop music and writing the follow-up to his ruminative third album Pure Comedy, released in April.
Q: You just finished playing festivals all summer. Do you approach those sets any differently than solo shows?
A: I just headlined my first festival in the U.K., which is definitely the only market that would ever invite me to headline a festival. But outside of having a cake-throwing DJ onstage with me, I haven’t really changed anything.
Q: Do you venture out much when you visit a new city?
A: No, I’m a total vampire. I just shut the blinds. I got asked one time by an unnamed hipster network to consider hosting a travel show and I was like, ‘It would just be me smoking cigarettes in the dark the whole time.’
But getting worn down (while traveling) is good for writing. I find that when I’m sleep-deprived and every nerve is exposed, it puts me in the ideal space. That’s when the subconscious is closest to the surface. I end up doing a lot of writing on tour.
Q: What’s the worst show you’ve ever played?
A: I had one spectacularly bad show the day after Trump got the nomination. Just the whole enterprise of being an entertainer became incredibly grotesque and I couldn’t go through with it. I just ended up having a good cry onstage that I should have had in the shower.
Q: Have you channeled any of those feelings about Trump and his election into your new music?
A: No. When I made (Pure Comedy), I was writing in 2015 and there was Trump the candidate, but I saw Trump the candidate as being symptomatic of the media hellscape and whatever else is going on. On the song Two Wildly Different Perspectives, that was me poking holes at what I…