America, as we know it, was built on atrocious ideas that inexplicably generated millions, making right-minded naysayers look like unmitigated assheads. At a time when many of us were debt-accruing undergrads with visions of mid-five-figure salaries dancing in our heads, Sean Tillman was formulating the most brilliant identity upgrade west of Peter Parker and Marshall Mathers.
When his brilliant, way-ahead-of-the-curve noisecore trio Calvin Krime disintegrated in 1998, Tillman underwent reinvention No. 1, morphing into ultra-ironic, folksy, VH-Emo storyteller Sean Na Na—a move that yielded no Cristal and plenty of sleepless nights on strangers' floors. A third Tillman musical manifestation was in order, and so the emergence of Sean's "younger brother," Harold Martin (Har Mar, for short), a concept brilliant in an entirely different way—for its pervasive, otherworldly shittiness.
Ever see Horatio Sanz's rotund, lisping, mid-30s, "boy band" character on SNL? Imagine Sanz embarking on national tours as that guy, complete with appropriately wretched original compositions. Imagine this boorish alter ego somehow achieving legitimacy, chilling with Kelly Osbourne, writing for J.Lo, and opening for the Strokes and Incubus.
I mean, is your head not spinning? You could've done this, right? I could've. We could've!
But we didn't. This is the Har Mar Superstar phenomenon, a story of inevitable, not instant, domination.
HAR MAR HAS a gift for knocking out the rungs on his ladder to the stars, maybe because climbing it is suddenly too effortless. Consider Oct. 27, a day in Oklahoma City on the Incubus tour that will live in infamy.
"Basically, I got arrested for grabbing my crotch and telling the crowd to eat my pussy," Har Mar says. "I was put in a holding cell in the arena, in my underwear. I asked one cop if I could put my pants on and he said yes, and the other cop who actually arrested me came back in and told me if I didn't take my pants off I was going to jail."
It won't corrupt your live Har Mar experience to reveal that he frequently ends sets in briefs, performing "neck stands." This isn't exactly G.G. Allin incarnate; the only thing genuinely offensive about Har Mar Superstar is the pompous crooning about doing you, baby, over C+ beats . . . you know, the music. Which is the point, although he considers R. Kelly and Mary J. Blige contemporaries and boasts, "I don't think many people rival me." Try conveying this relatively elementary joke to the ravenous TRL nation every night.
"In Jackson [Miss.], I spent my entire half-hour set getting pelted by everything," he divulges. "Forty, maybe $50 worth of change, a cell phone battery, people's shoes. Some people threw their umbrellas at me, like tampons, syringes. . . . "
"Used tampons?!" I'm having an L7 flashback.
"Yeah, it was bloody and fuckin' nasty," he confirms. "I thought it was kind of a compliment, though. Like 'It's over. Now I can party with Har Mar. I've already bled.' Wow, I've got a whole 'nother month before this lady turns on me again."
He rages on about the "first-generation KKK" kids in Jackson, clearly getting off on getting paid for rousing jackasses. Although Har Mar seems genuinely pissed about the Oklahoma City fuzz, half of what he tells me is punctuated by stoner giggles.
"That show, I kinda snapped a little bit," he continues, matter-of-factly. "I jumped down to the barricade and punched a couple people with the microphone, spit in a girl's face."
Hmmm. I'm never sure what to take literally, and am grateful for that.
Befitting of any ex-indie social climber, Har Mar won't even take my bait and bag on Incubus' coma-inducing live show ("They're super nice dudes!"), instead picking fights with the underground he's rapidly leaving behind. All it takes is an innocent question about his stage apparel.
"I have one assless suit with fringe around it," he begins, "and one 'Fuck Electroclash' suit that's, like, a white tuxedo with pink checks and the Williamsburg area code that's making fun of all those idiots, all those fashion 'tards that all went to art school and won't give it up."
I won't dupe you into thinking I know anything about anything, readers. At the time of this interview, while I was vaguely familiar with the Electroclash movement, I had no idea Har Mar was referencing a neighborhood in Brooklyn, N.Y., not the famous colonial tourist trap.
Me: I didn't know the Williamsburg scene was so oppressive.
Har Mar: It's fucking stupid. Have you ever hung out there?
Me: Only with my parents.
Indeed, Har Mar has no time for history, including the entity formerly known as Sean Tillman. I ask if there has been or ever will be a Sean Na Na/Har Mar double bill.
"No," he snaps. "Never. I think it's a little too cheesy."
"Not even if he were to open and you were headlining arenas?"
"It just wouldn't work."
"Not as a favor to him?" I press.
"No. I don't need to be nepotistic."
See, Harold Martin Tillman is as nasty as he wants to be. That's a prerequisite for any real superstar.