Gangsters Want To Cuddle Me

 HAR MAR

Har Mar Superstar (real name Sean Tillmann) has just finished a short, sweet US tour with Bang Bang Eche, and continues on the road with his white-clad band, but touring is not all he’s been busy with. The enigmatic soul-pop singer has been developing a sitcom pilot for HBO with Arrested Development‘s Alia Shawkat and Ellen Page (Juno, Hard Candy, Wilby Wonderful), written a film script with Justin Long, been consistently churning out short films for his Crappy Holidays project and released his first album in five years, Dark Touches.

EMJ spoke to Har Mar four days into his tour, before BBE was to join him on the road, and he was psyched to meet the band. “I’d actually seen their name and I heard they might be available to do some shows, and I checked them out and I was really into it. I thought it was really cool. A bunch of stuff had been thrown at me as far as support goes, and they were the ones that really got me excited, so I said yeah right away. I really like them… they kind of remind me of my first band Calvin Krime, they’re much better at it, it’s noisy but with awesome dancey keyboards, and I love that.”

His fourth album, Dark Touches boasts one of the catchiest songs he’s ever written, the sonic pop blitz of ‘Tall Boy’, escalating with stomping, salacious synths and Har Mar’s sugar sweet boy band vocals recounting what sounds like a girls’ night out but what is actually, he says, about the large beer. ‘Tall Boy’ has been credited with bringing him back into the American conscious, as did 2004’s party hit ‘DUI’ and his raunchy duet with Karen O, ‘Cut Me Up’. As the now famous story goes, ‘Tall Boy’ was originally written by Har Mar for Britney Spears, but was rejected by her management. The blow hasn’t hurt his ego however, and he says he’ll try again someday. “Oh totally man. You know I’m only down to take shot, it’s not like it’s like a personal diss if I’m not gonna record your songs, like it’s kind of a challenge to make it happen in the future, it’ll be fun. Basically if somebody huge wants to record my song and make me a whole lot of money then I’m totally down for them to do that. Sometimes a song I write for someone else I’m so into that it totally works for me; a few of those have made it on to my record.”

He says he is one of few “lyric and melody people” in his native LA. This enables him to write songs for the likes of Jennifer Lopez and Kelly Osbourne. “It’s weird, on paper it looks like I do a lot of shit and I’m a super busy person, but in reality I’m like laying around in my underwear watching TV,” he lets out a high, giggly laugh. “But I don’t know. It’s like everything happens in spurts, so there’ll be like a solid three months that I work on an album but then it’ll be like I don’t really have to do anything but tour and hang out after it comes out, so there’s a lot of time to not do anything. So instead of not doing anything I’ve been doing everything, and making shorts and trying to write scripts and hang out and maximise my time. I feel like it’s the only way to not get depressed, you know? Stay busy!”

HAR MAR

Har Mar credits his productivity to an innate desire to be busy. “Yeah I definitely have OCD, and I definitely can’t focus on something for too long, but when I do focus on it I think I get more done. I think I can focus for a short span and get an album done and tour but then I wanna do something else cos I’m just all over the place. I get bored easily.”

Having many talented, creative friends helps, and it’s with them Har Mar indulges his innermost creative tendencies. He’s worked on some level with The Strokes, Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Hollywood actors such as Eva Mendes, who stars in the epic glitter-fest video for ‘Tall Boy’. Har Mar and The Strokes’ names feature together a lot, and accordingly they’ve featured regularly in his life. “I met them in New York, there was a show that I ended up playing at the last minute that I wasn’t supposed to and they needed someone to fill in. I was there so I did it. The Strokes happened to be in the audience at the Mercury Lounge, and I didn’t really meet them. Then a few months later I was in Lawrence Kansas and saw them play, and at an after party they spotted me and asked me to come on tour. They were fans, and now we’re all really good friends.” Like all his creative friends, he hopes to collaborate properly someday. “Fab played drums with me the only time I’ve ever played in New Zealand… and Fab and I have written songs and stuff together before, and I’ve played with Nick a bunch, yeah, I’d love to.”

His new album Dark Touches appears to be his most polished and poppy accomplishment yet, and like any good pop saga, it took considerable time to come together. “I didn’t know it was gonna be an album until about two years ago. I made an early version of the album, and then I decided not to put it out right away. I still liked it, but there were just some weird label times and stuff. I worked more, wrote a bunch more songs and made it even better, so it was a good break.”

“It’s weird, on paper it looks like I do a lot of shit and I’m a super busy person, but in reality I’m like laying around in my underwear watching TV.”

All the while he’s been working on the brilliant Crappy Holidays series of short films that mock national American holidays. Writing, acting and casting them himself and with director friend Ryan Rickett, they gather actor friends together for some hilarious, deadpan DIY comedy akin to the humour of Arrested Development. The series came about after Har Mar recorded a cover of Mariah Carey’s ‘All I Want For Christmas Is You’ last Christmas with Flowers of Doom. “My friend Rickett and I decided to make a video for it just for fun, to send to our friends for a Christmas gift. We had so much fun making the first one, that we were like ‘we should do this all the time!’” he laughs. “We were really psyched, it felt like we were having a slumber party, so we decided that we would make it a series. And then it became one! And all our friends wanted to help us, so it’s awesome!” Their operation technique is very organic, he says. “It’s not stressful, I mean we’re in LA, so everybody’s an actor, they’re all good at it, so we have a fountain of talent! We just pick a day and then whoever can show up, we get to show up.”

They’re even considering developing it into a TV series with a formula that sounds not too disimilar to Extras. “I think ultimately we’d like to put together an actual sketch show that’s not all holiday-based or whatever, which is just kind of like a six episode season sort of awesome sketch show, with a cast and then a star each week or whatever, but we’ll see. Who knows, it’s just an idea thrown around.”

 HAR MAR

The sitcom he’s developing with bright young things Ellen Page and Alia Shawkat is more than just an idea thrown around, it’s been optioned by HBO and is two episodes in to its writing stage. The three met on the set of Drew Barrymore’s directorial debut, Whip It, in which Ellen is the protagonist, Alia is a main supporting character and Har Mar plays Coach Jeff.

“I’d known Alia from around for a while, and I met Ellen at Whip It on set. We all took a big trip with a bunch of our friends to Mexico over New Year’s, to Sayulita. Our friend rented a house and we were all there, so we ended up hanging out. That’s kind of where most of it came together for me. I think Alia and Ellen really bonded on set and were talking about doing something, and I kind of became the third puzzle piece.”

Later they took another trip together. “Ellen and Alia and I wrote the first two episodes when we were on a trip to Amsterdam together, and we took a trip just to do that. We hung out for two weeks and wrote two scripts, and just wandered around Amsterdam, it was really fun. We brought it back and pitched to HBO and they optioned it right away, which was awesome. So now we have to make a pilot, we have to re-write the script… it’s really baby stages; anything could happen with it. It could be awesome, it could be a series soon or it could just never happen, who knows. My money is on it happening and I think we just have to work really hard to make it the best. All we really care about is making it a really awesome show; that’s what we’re gonna take our time doing.” His aspirations extend to other screen work, and “would love to be involved in some sort of Judd Apatow awesomeness. That would be great, and super fun,” he says.

Har Mar’s natural talent with words and an uncanny ability to come up with classic, familiar sounding melodies that ring true has naturally flowed into acting and writing for the screen. His fearless character sees him strip himself of clothes on stage, but he also bares his soul in everything he does. He’s got a soul touch, R&B speaking, it’s all over his records. From the soulful DIY electronica of second album You Can Feel Me, to the booty bass raps of The Handler, to the pop soul of Dark Touches.

HAR MAR

It’s well known that Har Mar’s a fan of baring all (or a lot) at his shows, prompting his female fans to writhe with him in a sweaty, euphoric haze. It’s this nakedness, both physically and figuratively, that makes him stand out from the pack. He shares himself and his thoughts in the most brutally honest, genuine way that it’s alluring, captivating to watch. But unlike a car crash or stand up comedy, which are both equally head-turning, you’re not gasping in horror or laughing in the wrong places.

“The Har Mar show at some stages has been like some form of stand up. Not really, but it’s me on stage by myself, fending for my life,” he laughs. “I feel like stand up’s kind of a painful concept, you know? I’d have to be really ready, and really wanna do it, cos it’s really setting yourself up to just get knocked right the fuck down. It’s scary, I mean I totally respect anybody who can get up there and do ten minutes just with them and a microphone. It’s amazing. It’s so easy to bomb, it could go either way at any second, it’s kind of awesome.” This is how Har Mar has earned respect – getting up there, ripping his clothes off and partying, with his sassy songs backing his groove.

Har Mar Superstar- Myspace

Posted by Sarah Gooding under California, Los Angeles, U.S.A
No Comments