When the Fleet Foxes tour for Helplessness Blues wrapped in Japan on January 20th 2012, drummer Josh Tillman, aka Father John Misty, sent the following letter of resignation to Fleet Foxes mainman Robin Pecknold and the rest of his band mates. This letter has never been made public:
I realize this is sort of a bizarre time, seeing as we’re all on tour together right now and very well may all be in the same room as you read this, but on this last break home I had a pretty potent moment of clarity wherein I realized that I need to resign from the band.
This may come off as a touch dramatic, and silly, given that we’re a few weeks away from being done with this record cycle anyway; however, in my mind, it’s a big decision to extract myself emotionally, creatively, etc.
Again, I don’t want to seem presumptuous that I think this is some kind of big deal; I know people are looking forward as opposed to wringing hands over the band right now, but it’s important to me that I let you all know, as part of a larger shift in perspective.
I’ve been a real a son of a bitch to you guys on more than a few occasions, and I’m sorry you all had to bear the brunt of my self-loathing and unhappiness for so long and with such regularity. That said, I’m proud to have been a part of such a great band.
I think you know that ultimately what this is all about, and has been about forever and ever, is the fact that I am an impossibly self-motivated, obsessive narcissist (7 records… Who the hell does that? Someone should have held a creative intervention), who, as long as he isn’t diverting all his energy into his own enterprises, feels constricted, and marginalized, and useless. Which makes them full-blown, wounded-pride, wildly-irrationally resentful creeps.
I’ve hit a fork in the road in terms of how I regard myself, and what liberties I need to give myself to just move forward and be as productive and useful as I can without living in a malaise of mind games.
“Mind games” as in, a 4-year emotional steeplechase trying to fend off the depression that sets in anytime I’m not being creative of my own volition (this sounds dramatic, but is absolutely true) and telling myself I’m an asshole for not being able to just be congenial, content and grateful when I find myself with everything everyone I ever came up playing music with ever wanted (chiefly, respect/salvation from death-work), and worked their asses off for, sitting in my lap. Yet, the dreamer in me persists in being a total ingrate; ornery, petty and mean.
We both know what was going on in my head—internalizing the success of this band as a direct statement on the uselessness and uninspired, boring nature of my own music. My big failure, which is precious above all things to me, and is just about the only thing I’ve ever found to do that felt like it meant anything.
ALL OF WHICH IS INSANE. SO: I have this choice to either be productive and useful and do what gives me sustainable purpose and allows me to take my mind off all the obvious angst (see: the nature of this entire ridiculous email), even if that means I’m a total misanthropic, selfish monster who can’t get along with others, or to try and maintain the alternative, which it is obvious I fucking suck at. At fucking 30 years old.
On top of all this, I have had, what is in my mind at least, a substantial creative breakthrough, and writing, recording, etc. has taken on a whole new identity and voice, which I believe is my own, and which I don’t think I’ve ever been able to use until now, and I really, really, want to use it.