Har Mar Superstar
Sean Tillmann (aka Har Mar Superstar) is an American songwriter & performer who makes R&B / Pop / Soul music. What started as a one-man show in 1999 has grown into a full-band revue. Often noted as a premier live act, Tillmann works the crowd and earns his keep with sweat equity. A grueling tour schedule has made this Minneapolis, MN outfit a show not to miss.
We begin in the year 2008 with Josh, Dan and Brian. Three unassuming, well mannered and fun-loving fellows from a town near the sea. Regressed, mutated and collectively known as Fartbarf, they somehow bring us all into the future, captivating audiences with relentless melodies, robotically tight rhythms, and danceable beats by use of a strict limitation of tools at hand; vintage analog synthesizers, vocoders, drum machines, analog modular systems, and live drums.
When Man Man cut their seemingly endless record/tour/write/repeat cycle short to take a well-overdue break, Ryan Kattner AKA Honus Honus AKA Man Man’s main man decided to make something he’d avoided for the past 13 years—a solo album under the apropos name ‘Use Your Delusion.’
Now that a few songs are out, it’s safe to say a lot has changed since Man Man’s last LP, ‘On Oni Pond.’ For one thing, Kattner has lived in Los Angeles since 2013, splitting his time between songwriting and side projects like screenplays, a long-outlined graphic novel, music supervision gigs (Fox’s ‘Exorcist’ reboot, Super Deluxe), a new Mister Heavenly album, a bizarro children’s record called ‘Booger Bubble,’ original scores for plays and TV pilots, a monthly Talkhouse column, even a little acting and directing (his own “Heavy Jesus” and “Will You” videos for the JASH channel Sarah Silverman, Michael Cera, Reggie Watts, and Tim & Eric founded on YouTube). Why not right?
Let’s just say there’s more than a whiff of the city’s fallen angels at play here. Think of ‘Use Your Delusion’ as a love letter to LA’s lost souls, sealed with a pop-savvy sucker punch instead of a kiss. Fuck it. The kiss is there too.
“I wanted the vibe of the album to be upbeat and carefree even if the storytelling ran against the grain,” explains Kattner. “Like most creative people, I’m forever influenced by where I’m at in my life. There’s an unbalanced energy in the air I wanted to feed off here. I love how you can walk a block off Sunset Avenue at night, in the middle of a teeming city, and run right into a couple of coyotes trolling the neighborhood for tiny cats to eat. Sure, LA is known for attractive, traffic obsessed people and unattainable lifestyles but there’s also a lotta weirdos, a lotta darkness, and a real rich, disturbing history in the mix. Dreams being made and unmade every day. And all of it under a canopy of perfect weather and towering palm trees that are about to topple from either the drought or the next big earthquake.
He continues, “It’s not a concept album. You don’t need to drink from the LA River to appreciate the content. I mean, you’d probably die if you drank from the LA River. Or become invisible.”
OR maybe you’ll start to see things through Honus Honus eyes, enough to make sense of the dizzying ‘Use Your Delusion’ universe, from the down-and-out summery dub of “Oh No!” and barbaric death-metal breakdowns of “Red Velvet” to the poison-tipped synthpop of “Santa Monica” and mood-setting melancholy of “Vampires in the Valley.” There’s even some gymnastic guitar solos courtesy of producer/right hand man King Cyrus King (see also: several Adult Swim shows, Super Deluxe, and the power trio Hot Karate). He’s but one crucial piece of a complex puzzle that includes contributions from comedian Jon Daly (slaying the sax), drummer Joe Plummer (Mister Heavenly, Cold War Kids, Modest Mouse), polymath Mary Elizabeth Winstead (last heard alongside Dan the Automator in the avant-pop duo Got a Girl and seen in ‘10 Cloverfield Lane’ and ‘Swiss Army Man’), and singer Shannon Shaw of Shannon and the Clams.
“The parameters were simple,” explains Kattner. “Don’t overcook the cake. Short ‘n sweet, lean hard into the hooks. I also wanted to explore sounds I’d never messed around with before, diving headlong into the cheesiest sounding synths—the type of keyboards and pads most people skip over—and mixing that with outdated drum machines and real drums and then stirring in my songwriting style. Dystopian Pop.”
‘Use Your Delusion’ is more than just a mere one-off record, too. It’ll be supported by a full-on tour, one that lives up to Kattner’s wild-eyed reputation.
“This ain’t some ‘Honus strums a sad ukulele’ thing,” he says. “Sorry if that’s what you want but I’m just too restless a spirit to do that right now. I’ll implode if I don’t get the energy out and with all the great players I have onboard, the ceiling for the wildness factor to bloom is immense. That’s the most exciting part of all of this for me. Discovering our live footing as a new band. It reminds me of what it was like when I first started Man Man back in the day. There will always going to be serious side to the lyrical narrative but ultimately I just want to have the most engaging and fun live show possible. That’s not much to ask, right?”