Har Mar Superstar
AMERICAN Sean Matthew Tillmann’s alter ego, the balding, bawdy synth-popster Har Mar Superstar, played London’s Relentless Garage last month and has just embarked on his first UK tour in two years.
His third album Dark Touches delivers a club friendly collection of tongue-in-cheek cheekiness. And when the singer/songwriter’s not trilling heartfelt one liners (‘when you sing, my nipples sting’) stroking his member and snogging fans, he’s an actor and screenwriter with roles in the upcoming features Whip It (directed by Drew Barrymore, and starring Juno’s Ellen Page) and Lovely, Still.
But is Har Mar the superstar for real? Is this a decade-long piss-take, or the sorry story of a vengeful teen nerd flicking two fingers up to prove balding fat guys get laid too? According to Har Mar, we should take him more seriously: ‘I’m only about 20 per cent joking’, he expresses without a hint of irony. ‘That’s mostly the banter. When I hit the stage it gets real.’
Where do you currently live and why?
‘I live in Los Angeles, California. I like the weather and the people there. You have to know where to go, but odds are you’ll find a good crowd hanging around the bars of Silver Lake and Echo Park. That’s where I go to drink. I also love driving. You get to do a lot of that in LA. I write most of my songs in the car.’
In which areas of London have you lived?
‘I have lived primarily in Camden, but I’ve also lived in Soho, Mile End and Old Street for a little bit. I’ve also spent a lot of time at the K West Hotel in Shepherd’s Bush. I once saw Bjork and her friends singing Icelandic campfire songs on one side of the bar while Slayer and Mastodon raged mere feet away. It was amazing. London is always a good time. I really have fun on a night out, and I love that it’s small enough to really get around by foot.’
How is your UK tour going so far, and what’s been your gig highlight?
‘The tour has been amazing. Very comprehensive. We’re doing 15 gigs in UK and Ireland alone. Pretty great. It’s hard to pick one best gig, but since I’m fresh off of Manchester Ruby Lounge last night I’ll go with that one. The crowd was bonkers and I got to hang with my good friends in The Whip afterward. A perfect night.’
How have Londoners responded to your shows?
‘Londoners are amazing. The response at the Garage gig was out of control. People really got into it and let loose. I love the ridiculous clothes people wear. I also love an audience willing to snog me…which they did.’
Who are your musical influences?
‘I love Elton John, Stevie Wonder, Chaka Khan, R Kelly, the Beatles, Prince, MJ and the Velvet Underground. Peace Frog by the Doors is a huge tune for me too.’
What was the creative process of making Dark Touches and the inspiration behind it?
‘The creative process was very pastiche. I met up with a lot of different producers and made it track by track. I think that’s why it has such variety. We couldn’t get into ruts. It was great. The inspiration was just the innate need to get out and do more Har Mar touring. It’s one of my favorite things in the world to feed off the energy of a sexed-up audience.’
How would you describe the album?
‘Brutal, sexual RnB, pop. Fun.’
How does your UK fan base compare to the US?
‘UK fans are always a bit more rabid en masse. It’s equally liberation and terrifying at the same time. I love touring the UK. The US is so spread out that it’s hard to generalise, but the cities love it.’
What has been your career highlight so far?
‘I love playing festivals. Glastonbury is a definite high for me, but I’d also say snogging Simon Le Bon on stage in Ibiza was pretty amazing. If only to make my sister jealous.’
What is your favourite brand of underwear?
Where in London would you recommend everyone visit at least once?
‘I love Garlic and Shots. It’s a little bar on Frith Street – or is it Dean? Sit in the tomb in the basement and have a blood shot. It really feels like some Jack the Ripper shit. On top of that, they’re always cranking Scandinavian death metal. It rules!’
First published on The London Word, December 2009.
© Abbey Stirling