Interview: Har Mar Superstar

The scantily-dressed dance phenomenon riffed with A&E before taking ship overseas for a European tour.

PHOTO COURTESY LANGDON/AUGUSTO

PHOTO COURTESY LANGDON/AUGUSTO

Mark Brenden

It has been a lucrative year for homegrown dance music sensation and unlikely sex symbol Sean Tillman , better known by his Ron Jeremy -meets-Tiny Tim alter ego Har Mar Superstar. The Speedo -sporting Meat Loaf of the 21st century’s latest release, “Dark Touches ,” is thriving healthily under the dance genre he thinks is dying out. The Marshall, Minn. native and graduate of Perpich Center for Arts Education has won over the world with his large noise, small garment shtick, performing on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon , befriending rock stars of White Stripes and Strokes fame, touring around Europe and appearing in Drew Barrymore’s “Whip It.âÄù A&E called the perennial thong songster on his mobile to chat about his experience with âÄúWhip It,âÄù the death of dance music and his bromance with Moldy Peaches’ Adam Green. I’m obliged, I think, to ask what you are thankful for. HM: Um … Most everything. I’m just thankful that I have good friends and good health. How much of what you do is humor, and how much of it is serious? HM: I don’t know. It’s all in the eyes of the beholder. I mean, do you find it important to be funny? HM: No, not all the time. Sometimes. I mean, I find it important to have a sense of humor. How do you like doing the whole movie thing? HM: It’s fun. It’s good work. I like it. Obviously, it’s a really fun thing to do, and I think I’m good at it. So yeah âÄî it’s something I like to do. Do you foresee more cinematic endeavors? HM: Probably, yeah. Some stuff is starting to get offered now. What do you have for musical influences? HM: I love Stevie Wonder and Elton John and Motown in general. I mean everything that is around me. A lot of friends’ bands like the Strokes and Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Jack White and all those kinds of people âÄî really inspirational. Anything you were turned on to in Minnesota? HM: Yeah, I really like Howard Hamilton, he’s one of my favorite songwriters. He used to do Busy Signals and now he’s in Red Pens. I always liked his songwriting. And obviously The Replacements and Hüsker Dü with big influences on me, and, ya know, Prince . Bob Dylan , and all that [expletive]. The end of the decade is looming. How much of an effect do you think you had on the musical culture of this decade? HM: That would be really egotistical to answer, so I’m not going to. [Laughs] Fair enough. Well then, what do you think will define this era? HM: This decade, I don’t know. It started out being a lot of noise music and heavy rock and then it went into like this whole dance music phase that I think is dying right now. And then I don’t know. Now I think the biggest characteristic is that everybody has way too many members in their band. [Laughs] There’s like a million people on stage âÄî all starving. So you think dance music is dying out, huh? HM: Well no, it will always be around. It did before and it will again. I mean, yeah, it was a huge trend. It was cool; it was fun. But it’s just the same cycle that always happens I feel like. So do you think you’re going to move away from that style then? HM: No. I mean I don’t really know. I have no idea what my next record is gonna sound like, because I haven’t even thought about recording it. So youâÄôre saying the whole cultural hoopla involved with dance music is dying but it’s not necessarily going to stop being made? HM: Yeah, it’s just like the era of the DJ getting paid more than the band. [Laughs]. Where do you think music is headed then? HM: I have no idea. I don’t know, I think people are moving back to just songwriting. I have no idea where it’s going to go though. So I’ve read that you dislike sampling music. Can I get a rant on that? HM: Well, I don’t like sampling music because it costs a lot of money and it takes away from your [profits]. It gets messy and there’s not really much reason to do it. Ya know? But that’s just for me. I mean I like somebody who can sample a song and make it into another great song âÄî that’s awesome. But I just don’t do it because of all the legal implications and all the paper work that comes with it. So you don’t think it’s a morally repugnant thing to do? HM: No. No, not at all. Are you happy with the way the âÄúWhip ItâÄù movie turned out? HM: Yeah, I love the movie. It was great. A lot of my friends worked on it for a long time. It was cool to see it be done, finalized, released. I was there for the whole process so I was really excited to take on the script. So I was able to see it from the beginning stages until the end. And that was really cool. Who do you play in the movie? HM: I play a coach of one of the roller derby teams. And Drew Barrymore was a pleasure to work with? HM: Yeah, she’s a good friend and an awesome person. She’s always fun to make stuff with. You worked with Adam Green on the soundtrack and on your new album. HM: Oh yeah. He’s my best friend, so we always do stuff together. Do you think you guys are in the same vein musically? HM: Yeah. We both think we are the Harry Nilsson of all of our friends. We definitely have a lot in common musically. Anything else you want to say to the U of M? HM: I wouldn’t have dropped out of the U of M if I didn’t start touring all the time. [Laughs]. I would be a graduate of the U of M, but I’m totally not. I went there for a year and half. I was working on a double major with English and Spanish but then I quit. [Laughs]. Moved on to better things. HM: Yeah. Well I mean whatever. I already knew what I wanted to do and I don’t think college would have helped me do it. [Laughs].