The Current

Great Music Lives Here ®
Listener-Supported Music
Donate Now
Live From The Current Studio

Har Mar Superstar performs in The Current studio

  Play Now [20:47]

by Andrea Swensson and Har Mar Superstar

April 11, 2016

Har Mar Superstar - Youth Without Love (Live on The Current)
by MPR
Har Mar Superstar - How Did I Get Through the Day (Live on The Current)
by MPR
Har Mar Superstar - It's Only Dancing (Live on The Current)
by MPR
Har Mar Superstar - Anybody's Game (Live on The Current)
by MPR
Har Mar Superstar
Har Mar Superstar performing live in The Current studio
MPR / Nate Ryan

"My state of mind is always 'best summer ever,'" says Sean Tillmann, known on stage as the bombastic crooner Har Mar Superstar. "It's what I say when I cheers someone – or if I'm taking someone's photo, I make them say 'best summer ever.' It's been a long-running quote in my life. Even if it's the day after Christmas, it's still the best summer ever in my brain."

Tillmann brought his new six-piece band into the studio — Denver Dalley (guitar), Ryan McMann (drums), James Buckley (bass), Aaron Baum (keys), Nelson Devereaux (sax), Jake Baldwin (trumpet) — to perform four songs off of Best Summer Ever, and the feel-good vibes of the album's certainly abound in the songs' fluttering rhythms and buoyant melodies. But the album also finds Tillmann exploring some seriously moving emotional territory, especially in the hair-raising ballad "How Did I Get Through the Day?"

"You have to capture the moment, and put it out there, so you don't go back to that place," he reflected, still catching his breath and wiping away a tear after performing the song. "It's really emotional when you play it, but it's a good, powerful feeling."

Tillmann has spent two decades balancing these two seemingly disparate sides of his personality: the fun-loving party animal who shimmies up and down the bar singing "Tall Boy," and the introspective lyricist who can craft a masterful hook about heartbreak and loss. As he matures, these two "sides" of his persona seem to be orbiting closer and closer to one another; rather than using side projects like Sean Na Na to explore his softer, sweeter side, Tillmann is more comfortable with the idea of being all the things, at once.

"I streamlined my whole deal into one project, and I feel like there's a lot more real emotion," he says. "It used to be more of a fantastic world that I'd create for myself so I could do whatever I wanted on stage. But now I can just do whatever I want on stage, and be myself. So yeah, Sean is Har Mar, Har Mar is Sean. I just wear different clothes when I'm Har Mar."

For Best Summer Ever, Tillmann once again collaborated with Strokes frontman Julian Casablancas, who has been a close friend for years, and he called on Karen O to help with the album's opening track, "Haircut." While he's certainly enjoyed developing these meaningful relationships with high-profile artists on the East and West Coast, Tillmann recently moved back to the Twin Cities for the first time in over a decade, putting down roots by purchasing his first house in Northeast Minneapolis.

"I just felt like I was getting more done creatively when I'd come here, rather than trying to parse out time with people in New York or L.A.," he says "The vibe here is just that it takes less effort, you know. I love being here. I love that I can afford a house here. And there's so many great musicians and artists and cool people. I'm on tour half the time anyway – so it's like, might as well live where I love."

Songs Performed

"Youth Without Love"
"How Did I Get Through the Day"
"It's Only Dancing (Sex)"
"Anybody's Game" (online exclusive)

All songs off Har Mar Superstar's album Best Summer Ever, out April 15, 2016 via Cult Records.

Hosted by Andrea Swensson
Produced by Andrea Swensson
Engineered by Mike DeMark
Web feature by Andrea Swensson
Visuals by Nate Ryan