Har Mar Superstar Biography
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.