Sean Tillman's back to grin and bare it as Har Mar Superstar
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Be forewarned: If you attend a Har Mar Superstar show, there is a good chance you'll be taking your clothes off. It's a lock that Har Mar himself will be stripped down by the end of the night. The stocky, balding Minnesotan whose driver's license reads "Sean Tillman" makes an unlikely lothario, but the confidence, dedication, and goofy energy he exudes is undeniably charming. Tillman has had a busy year both musically and beyond, releasing his first Har Mar album in five years, Dark Touches, and seducing Hollywood with a co-starring role in Drew Barrymore’s directorial debut Whip It, and co-writing Stitch N' Bitch, an HBO show in production with Whip It stars Ellen Page (Juno) and Alia Shawkat (Arrested Development). Before he returned home this week for a show with Kool Keith Nov. 5 at the Triple Rock and a headlining gig at the Varsity Nov. 6, The A.V. Club caught up with Tillman about his projects, touring, and having cold cuts eaten off his chest.
The A.V. Club: So here’s the question I feel I have to ask, given the Har Mar Superstar persona. Are you sleeping with Ellen Page and Alia Shawkat?
Sean Tillman: I am not. I am not having any threesomes with Alia and Ellen. That would be totally weird.
AVC: But you are writing a show with them for HBO.
ST: Yeah, but that's totally different. [Laughs.] They are like my sisters. So that would be gross. I would be a gross person. [Laughs.]
AVC: Stitch N' Bitch has been described as following two New York hipster girls trying to become artists in Los Angeles, but there aren't many other details out there yet. Can you shed some more light?
ST: It's basically making fun of ourselves, making fun of hipster culture that goes on around us that we also are part of.
AVC: It's meta-hipsterism.
ST: Yes, exactly. [The characters are] trying so hard to fit in that they ruin everything that they touch.
AVC: Are you going to act in it?
ST: We all want to. I mean, that's the idea of the whole show. It's all up to schedules, and if HBO makes it a series. I'm sure we would all be more than psyched to have our own show that we would be running and acting in and writing.
AVC: If it's anything like the "Don't Stop Believing" video you made with them, America should hold onto its pants.
ST: Yeah, that's definitely what we are like when we are together so I have a feeling that some of that spirit shall be reflected in the show. [Laughs.]
AVC: How did you get cast in Whip It?
ST: I’m friends with Drew and she thought it would be fun for me to do that role. I don't know, that's about it. I was just hanging around after a tour and I got a call seeing if I wanted to come play this role in like, two days and I did. It was awesome.
AVC: Your life seems to be filled with being in the right place at the right time. Are you just lucky, or do you have to work at making sure you're there when the right place and time happens?
ST: No, I'm just always everywhere all the time, so it pretty much works out. I don't know if that has to do with being in the right place at the right time. In the end it just has to do with where I drink and who thinks I'm amazing.
AVC: Dark Touches is the first Har Mar Superstar record in five years. Why is now the right time to bring that persona back?
ST: Mainly because I had the album done and it was going to be released. [Laughs.] It's just good timing. [I toured] with Neon Neon last year, and with Sia for three months, and that went really well. People were really psyched about Har Mar again. It just seemed like the right time to finish the album and just do it. I love touring and doing the Har Mar thing. It's super fun, and I have to get excited about it again.
AVC: What about Har Mar Superstar is so exciting for you?
ST: Well, it's just that I get to be a gigantic drunken mess on stage. I guess "gigantic drunken mess" would be the three words to describe it. [Laughs.] The live shows, it's just great to get people excited like that. Entertaining the masses.
AVC: You're famous for your belly, and proudly showing it off. What is your diet and workout regimen on the road?
ST: Well, sometimes me and Catfish, our guitar player, play catch with a Nerf ball. That's about it. And the eating is pretty much constant. Don't worry, the gut's not going anywhere.
AVC: Is there a doctor in your entourage?
ST: No, but I've got enough weed to cover up any pain. [Laughs.]
AVC: What's the craziest thing that has happened to you on the road?
ST: Well, on this tour in Oakland, I did get several audience members to eat cold cuts off my chest while totally sweaty on stage, which was pretty amazing,. It just goes to show the dedication of the fans. But I'm trying to think—that's not really that crazy, that's just sort of normal for the show. Right now I'm at that stage of the tour where I'm basically brain-dead, so remembering things is hard.
AVC: You're not even that far into the tour, are you?
ST: Well, yeah, it's just sort of immediate. There's a switch that goes off two days after you leave home where that's it—idiot dick jokes become funny. You're just this charming, weird tour zombie.
Har Mar Superstar's "Tall Boy" video, co-starring Eva Mendes and Alia Shawkat: