Har Mar Superstar: The continuing adventures

By | November 5, 2009

Star Tribune

In the six years since he left the Twin Cities for Los Angeles, Har Mar Superstar has always come back with a surprisingly long list of names to drop, ones straight off the A-list like Drew Barrymore, Ben Stiller, Kate Moss, the Jonas Brothers, Red Hot Chili Peppers and, most recently, Eva Mendes and Ellen Page.

So it was more surprising to hear the singer/actor/whatever-you-got-for-me-performer talk excitedly about the less starry group of people he met at a recent excursion to a songwriting camp with his close pal Adam Green of the Moldy Peaches.

“It was me and Adam at the Hanson brothers’ ranch in Oklahoma, with Weird Al Yankovic, the guys from Morningwood, Miles from Fastball,” Har Mar recounted by phone from the road last week. “It was intentionally a weird bunch, and really inspiring.”

Clearly, nothing is too weird for Har Mar. His journey to MMM-Bop Ranch was on the long list of answers to the question, “Where you been?”

Ridiculously conspicuous during the mid-’00s, the artist formerly known as local indie-rocker Sean Tillmann, 31, has been noticeably off the radar the past couple years. He hasn’t put out a Superstar album since 2004’s “The Handler.” His only on-screen appearance of late was a bit role as a fighting coach in Barrymore’s rollergirl comedy “Whip It!”

Returning to town tonight for a Varsity Theater gig behind his new disc, “Dark Touches,” the HMS explained that most of his work of late — and you knew he wasn’t just lying low — has been behind-the-scenes.

“I’ve actually been busier than most of the people I know who are in bands putting out records full-time,” he said.

Foremost among his ventures is a new sitcom called “Stitch N’ Bitch” with “Juno” star Page. It’s now in development at HBO (so confirms the Hollywood Reporter) and will star Page and “Arrested Development’s” Alia Shawkat as young hipsters in Hollywood who desperately try to blend in, with Har Mar playing himself and co-writing scripts.

“Ellen, Alia and I are all from smaller towns and all know what it’s like making a jackass of yourself trying to be cool enough for Hollywood,” Har Mar said with a giggle.

His other projects of late have included a music-video-remake show called “Shoot to Kill” (shelved during a VH1 regiment change), plus he’s co-written a screenplay with “Die Hard With a Vengeance” and Mac commercial star Justin Long.

He never lost interest in his bare-all music career, though.

“Har Mar tours are the most fun I have, so it’s constantly on my mind,” he said.

“Dark Touches” features Har Mar’s trademark sexed-up, come-hither R&B sound with a heavier dosage of dance-floor grind. As with “The Handler,” the music is often way more sophisticated than the tongue-wagging-in-cheek lyrics would have you believe. He again collaborated with Twin Cities-reared producer-to-the-tween-stars John Fields, plus a guest list that includes members of the Faint, Neon Neon, the Bird & the Bee and his former Perpich Center for the Arts classmate P.O.S.

The phallic single “Tall Boy” is already earning him newfound notoriety. His performance of it last month on “Late Night With Jimmy Fallon” — fully clothed, by the way — went to the top of the Google Trends list the next morning. Its Mendes-starring video also earned a spot on Entertainment Weekly’s “Must List.” All of which leaves one wondering if the starlet for whom the song was written might’ve actually had a hit with it.

“We sent it to Britney’s people and they said they were interested, but then they sent it back, I think because of the content,” he recalled. “It might’ve been a bad idea for her, but I was totally fine with keeping it.”

All these unrequited flirtations with TV shows and hit songs raised a rather blunt and serious question: Has Tillmann actually been able to make a decent living as the Superstar all these years?

“There were questionable times when I’ve been broke,” he admitted, “but now I own a house in L.A. and I haven’t had a 9-to-5 job since I was 18, so I think I’ve done all right.”