Har Mar Superstar

Har Mar Superstar Biography

The funk-soul everyman known as Har Mar Superstar may be better known for his campy, lascivious live shows than he is for his music, but his latest album The Handler is almost certain to change that. Produced by veteran soundman John Fields (Pink, Andrew W.K.), it features the strongest production work, catchiest songwriting, and sweetest singing of Har Mar's career. So stop calling him a novelty act, already.

We chatted with Har Mar alter ego Sean Tillmann (or is it the other way around?) over a lousy cell phone connection from England, and found out more about the past, present and future of this unlikely sex symbol.

AD: How's the England tour going? Do the ladies over there dig Har Mar as much as the Stateside females do?

Har Mar: Yeah, probably even more.

AD: I read something somewhere about the name Har Mar coming from a Twin Cities supermarket. Can you elaborate?

Har Mar: It was actually a mall called the Har Mar Mall. I was working this shitty office job and they had this big food court I ate at.

AD: Have you ever had a shitty pet store job, too? Was that the inspiration for the "DUI" video?

Har Mar: I never have. That was all the vision of my friend Patrick, who made the video. He was originally gonna do a Sesame Street type of thing, but we realized how crazy that would be to do all the [puppet] choreography, so we moved it to a pet store.

AD: There are some very cool guest vocalists on the new album - Karen O from The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, the all-female rap trio Northern State. How did those collaborations come about?

Har Mar: That just came from being friends....Karen and I had decided a long time ago when we were on tour together that we were gonna do something together for my next album. And so we just thought about it for a long time and got together and mapped it out in a day. It was kind of the same with Northern State. We became friends and just hung out a lot and decided we'd trade songs on each other's albums.

AD: Have you and Karen ever shared the stage?

Har Mar: Well, we toured together, but no, I don't think so.

AD: I'm just thinking that Karen O and Har Mar Superstar performing on stage at the same time...that would be something to see.

Har Mar: Yeah, it would be bloody and wet, probably.

AD: The production on this album is huge leap forward from your previous work. Was that a conscious decision, or is this the kind of album you've always wanted to make and just weren't able to?

Har Mar: Definitely. [We wanted to] take everything that I was doing but really focus on the songwriting and getting a good sound for everything.

AD: I'm hearing a lot more Stevie Wonder and Jackson Five influences in the Har Mar sound now. True?

Har Mar: Yeah. I just could never do it before, I didn't know how. [But] I just had a meeting of minds with John Fields, the producer. I can play all the instruments, but he really knows how to cook it all up on the track.

AD: On the track "Sugar Pie," which is very Stevie Wonder, I noticed the drums were credited to Pete Thomas. Is that Pete Thomas from Elvis Costello and the Attractions?

Har Mar: Yeah, that's him. He's friends with John [Fields] and it was just a natural because he's obsessed with Motown.

AD: So are you an Attractions fan?

Har Mar: Yeah, I love Elvis Costello. I think I've got all his albums.

AD: Maybe next time you can go on tour with Elvis Costello.

Har Mar: That would be awesome. I would love that.

AD: A lot of people make the obvious comparison between Har Mar Superstar and another funky Minnesotan, Prince. Have you ever had a chance to meet His Purpleness?

Har Mar: I've been in the same room with him, but I don't really have any desire to meet him. He's too serious. I don't think we'd have anything to say to each other.

AD: Where do you want to be with this act in five years, ten years?

Har Mar: Either rich or dead, I guess. I don't know. I just want to keep working, and have fun.

AD: Is there a special lady in Sean Tillman's life?

Har Mar: No, there never is. There's a point where you have to pick and I'm not there yet.

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