Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound engineering by Mike Gentry
At the very end of Har Mar Superstar's session with us here in Rock Island this fall, "Body Request," a song from his 2004 album "The Handler," plays out and Sean Tillmann, the leader of this all-fun, all-sex group from Los Angeles is heard saying -- as he trails away from the microphone, "God, we're good. It never stops. The hits don't stop with Har Mar Superstar," and then a sequencer launches into another song unexpectedly and he continues, "Whoa, they literally don't stop." For years now, I've thought the same thing. It's been probably a decade now since Har Mar - just Tillmann and a programmed box - and his music was made known, out on tour and in Iowa City opening for Atom & His Package. He wore a sparkly cape, we never saw him in his Underroos and that show will be remembered always for the cocky and braggadocio that he exuded - between every song advising people, very sternly to "buy my fucking record." It was unlike anything else and it still is all these years later, capitalizing on that extra libido - real or manifested and magnified - turning every horny moment that he has into a song that has monstrous hooks all up and down it and featuring Tillmann using his legitimate, non-imitation Stevie Wonder/Justin Timberlake vocal style to great effect. He doesn't seem to have to go to extreme lengths to make his music what it is - a stepping into the warped and perverse mind of a healthy, sex-loving male who longs for nothing more than multiple partners with pinup quality girls and free-flowing drugs and booze - all of this distributed to a short, pudgy, chain-smoking guy who grew up in Minneapolis. There's a sense of the irony and there always has been in everything that Tillmann's ever written. If he were one of the attractive ones, one of the pretty boys - like Timberlake, or an Usher or a Robin Thicke, even - one of the boys who involuntarily sparkles and has a pick of the litter to choose from, girls hanging from every pole, the songs that he writes would endure entirely different interpretations. They would lose their bite, but they might very well gain their legitimacy in the mainstream hierarchy - as they have in the United Kingdom, where Har Mar Superstar is and has been a national superstar and phenomenon for years now. Tillmann prefers to present his sex drive as that of a no shame, will do everything it takes to bed a hottie dude, though he pulls it off with some form of decency, because his songs are constructed along the lines of a brilliant lineage of other covertly written songs about boning and very simple, animal attraction. So many songs skate that fine line, using a softer and prettier language to say the same thing that Tillmann always wants to say and that's, "Let's fuck, honey." It just sounds different when Joni Mitchell says it in a song or when Leonard Cohen goes there, right? Har Mar Superstar lets it all just hang out - more so than you're ready for sometimes, when it comes to that portion of the live performance when bare chests, naked legs and just a small pair of tight underwear stand between you and an X-rated fella, and he makes it perfectly clear what he wants. He offers, in "I Got Next" from his latest record "Dark Touches," "Blood flow, full-grown, now everybody know," and we're looking at a grand hard-on reference, one that John Mayer or the Black Eyed Peas would never have the gall or the balls to make. It's just because they'd dance around the real reason they wrote that dance club song in the first place. They'd deny that they were looking for amply endowed women to toss their cares aside and just transgress a little bit, get sweaty and get messy and loud - to tell someone that you want to taste their applesauce and not have it mean applesauce, not even close.
Har Mar Superstar Official Site