NEW YORK TIMES: To focus on the songs, Mr. Tillman, a merry libertine, gave up booze, drugs, cigarettes and meat. “I needed all my wits about me if I was going to take on these issues. Music is chaos. When I write songs, I’m opening the door to madness.” Judging from the tequila-and-soda in front of him and the pack of American Spirits in the pocket of his gray, slim-fit overcoat, he’s now abstaining from abstinence.

“I didn’t like it,” he said with a theatrical shrug. “Not for me. When the ledgers of history are drawn up, I’ll be on the side of the smokers and the masturbators. Those are my people.” After seeing me laugh in appreciation of the pithy quote, which, we both realize, summarizes his wit in a way that’s vivid but not too vulgar for print, he laughed, too. “I love the exhilaration of feeling a pull quote come out of your mouth,” he said. “The words just taste better.” […]

Mr. Tillman’s nearly apostolic enthusiasm for art and ideas — when he talked to me about “the isolation of late-era capitalism,” he wasn’t joking — is likely to be the residue of a late bloom. For instance, he didn’t hear the Beatles until he was 18. (When he did, “I was like, ‘This is [extremely] incredible.’”) His childhood in Rockville, Md., was dominated by religious instruction and fear. “Fourth through eighth grade, I was having demons cast out of me, speaking in tongues, and learning Zionist propaganda at a Pentecostal messianic Jewish cult school.” He said his parents and teachers instructed him to ignore the material world and focus on End Times, which were imminent; his sense of humor was proof that he was possessed by demons.

“I’ve been diagnosed with PTSD by three therapists,” he said. Mr. Tillman has such severe depression and anxiety, he can’t take vacations. In lieu of anti-depressants, he self-medicates with micro-doses of LSD. “Acid really helps,” he said. “I probably shouldn’t talk about this, because Jeff Sessions will come after me.” MORE