By Rob van Alstyne
By Zach McCormick
By Emily Eveland
By Jack Spencer
By Michael Madden
By Reed Fischer
By Emily Weiss
By Emily Weiss
R&B lothario Har Mar Superstar and Yeah Yeah Yeahs squealer Karen O. have settled into their mid-20s with all the quiet anonymity of P. Diddy leading Operation North Korean Freedom. She appeared on Top of the Pops this year with Kelly Clarkson and Marilyn Manson; he frolicked on the cover of Mixmag with half-naked Ibiza dancers. They toured Australia together this summer, and this Saturday they headline separate venues in the Twin Cities, Har Mar's hometown. What we wanted to know is: Do these alternative sex symbols have anything in common besides exhibitionist tendencies? So we placed a conference call between Har Mar at his brand-new Hollywood crib and Karen at a tour stop in Orlando, Florida, to find out.
Har Mar Superstar:What's going on, dude?
Karen O: I'm a little bit wasted. I only have two questions that I prepared in advance. First, can you tell me the process that you undergo to write a song?
Har Mar:Most of the time I start out with an idea for a beat, made with my friend Eric Olson--he's from Minneapolis but he lives out here in L.A. We're like a production team.
Karen: What's his sexuality? Is he hetero, bi, or gay?
Har Mar:Eric? He's a hetero man. So what we do is type out a beat on the MPC, and then add a bass line. Then I drive around listening to the beat for a week or so until I come up with a vocal idea. Normally, all the songs are about sex, so I just sort of try to get into a lot of sexy situations. Then I drive away from them, and I write all the stuff down.
Karen: Okay, so when you say sexy situations that you drive away from--you're lying, right?
Har Mar:About half the time I'm totally lying.
Karen: You mean like sexy situations in your room watching--
Har Mar:--Sex in the City. That kind of thing.
Karen: Well, that leads me to my next question. I'm sure you get asked this all the time. What is the process that you undergo to eat a banana?
Har Mar:I always get this question. It's fucking so old. But what I do is kind of rub it around whatever's nearest. It could be something on me, or somebody else, or just a table or something, to make sure it's not some kind of booby trap. Because everybody likes to laugh at me every once in a while. So I just make sure it's a real banana. And then I peel it, from top to bottom. Sometimes I don't peel it. Sometimes I'll just eat the whole thing.
Karen: You're not the only one who eats it that way. I know that you felt kind of isolated eating bananas that way, getting a little bit down on yourself for a while. But apes and monkeys eat bananas with the peels on. It doesn't even occur to them to peel it.
Har Mar:Exactly. What's the point? So Karen, you're in Orlando. Did you try to go to Disney World or anything?
Karen: No, we went to see A Perfect Circle at the Hard Rock Cafe Live, which is actually in Universal Studios. We're in this backstage area. [Bassist] Twiggy [Ramirez] is onstage right now. [Guitarist] James Iha is in complete shadow: They don't want to give him any spotlight because he's Asian.
Har Mar:It's that and because he made that solo record that nobody really liked much.
Karen: Thing is, it's all white people here tonight.
Har Mar:Does that make you a little bit intimidated, because you have some Asian blood?
Karen: No, no, no. I don't know how I do it, kicking someone in the balls or knocking the wind out of them. But I know that I could take a few punches.
Har Mar:You could also just get wasted and not think about it. [mutual laughter] So you're coming out here soon to record with me. Are you fucking excited?
Karen: Actually, if you want to know the truth, I'm electronically mailing with Beck, and I told him that I was going to be out there recording with you, and he didn't write me back after that.
Har Mar:I saw him three days ago at a festival and he asked me to record with him, so maybe I'm totally cock-blocking you.
Karen: Well, it wasn't too long ago that we were on the dance floor, and there was this girl that you were interested in, and she had a few guys hanging on her, and I told you that you had some competition, and your reply was, "I'm winning." So I don't doubt that you could totally cock-block my ass.
Har Mar:No, let's do all that shit together.
Har Mar: [singing] One of these kids is not like the other.
Karen: Wait, who's that?
Har Mar:I would think it would be me.
Karen: Oh, come on, dude, why? Because you get more attention that way?