It's been over a decade since Sean Tillmann adopted his Har Mar Superstar alter ego and eventually relocated to Los Angeles, CA. The Rocky Mountains couldn't separate Tillmann from his musical alumni, however, and he's maintained a prominent role in the local scene, booking shows for Marijuana Deathsquads and appearing with Gayngs in between myriad other projects.
On Saturday August 13, Tillmann will unveil his latest musical project: Charles. Featuring fellow Perpich School of the Arts alumni Jon Kelson and Melinda Parks, the band will share a stage with artists P.O.S., Communist Daughter, Farewell Continental, No Bird Sing, and many more at the annual Pizza Luce Block Party.
Gimme Noise caught up with Tillmann to learn a bit more about his artistic process, how Charles came to be, and his Minnesota lineage.[jump]
GimmeNoise: Can you give a little background on Jon Kelson and Melinda Parks? Kelson was also in Calvin Krime with you. Will there be any similarities between the two bands?
Sean Tillmann: Jonny Kelson and Melinda Parks are two of my closest friends in the world. We all met while we attended what is now Perpich Center for Arts Education (formerly MN Center for Arts Education).
Jonny was in Calvin Krime with me. We lived in vans on tour together for four years. After we broke up, he went to Aveda Institute and worked his way up to owning his own salon, Mezzanine, with his wife Steph. Melinda Parks was in my theater class, so we worked closely acting, writing, and directing plays throughout school. She relocated to Seattle, so whenever I'd come through on tour I'd always stay with her. She's majorly talented in many ways. I didn't even know she could sing until she duetted "Power Lunch" with me at her wedding a couple years back. Since then she's been singing back up on Har Mar tours, and Charles was born shortly after.
As far as similarities between Charles and Calvin Krime go there aren't many. There's still some dissonance in the songs we write but where Calvin Krime was a more spastic, urgent noise band, Charles comes off more like David Lynch-inspired slower music for fried brains. I think it has an Apocalypse Now feeling to it too. It's pretty post traumatic...in a good way. I also sing really low and deep on a lot of the songs.
The members of Charles live in different cities. How does the band work across the distance?
I'm in LA, Melinda is in Seattle (soon moving to LA), and Jonny still lives in Minneapolis. The theme behind Charles is that we like to go to out-of-the-way spots to record our songs. We've written some of the songs on Salt Spring Island, BC and bunch more up at Deep Lake in northern Minnesota. After we get the basic songs together, we go to Sound Gallery in downtown Minneapolis to record them. We've done 10 songs so far. We started in March 2010. Hopefully we'll have at least one song available for free download by August 8.
We all have family in Minnesota, so it makes it really easy to meet up there and work on stuff. It never feels like work though. We have a great time because we love coming back. We try to fit in a lot of tubing, fishing, and swimming during our songwriting sessions. It's pretty much the best possible set up.
How did you decide to introduce Charles at the Luce Block Party?
There was talk of trying to get our live show together for Art-A-Whirl, but it wasn't a realistic timeframe for us. When Pizza Luce asked us to rock the block party in August we all decided the timing was perfect. Also, it meant a lot of Minnesota summer time fun. It was a no-brainer. We consider ourselves a Minneapolis band because we're heavily involved in the music scene there.
You maintain a number of ties to the Twin Cities scene, most recently in Gayngs and Marijuana Death Squads. What keeps you coming back?
I love playing with everyone in Gayngs and Deathsquads. It's a really chill group of amazing, smart, talented people that I look up to and am a peer of. I come back for those reasons. It's weird imagining that I wasn't hanging out with them all of the time just a couple years ago. We inspire and help each other to make our projects the best that they can be. It's amazing.
How much of a role did you play in the Marijuana Deathsquads' LA residency?
I think I've booked all but one of Deathsquads' shows in Los Angeles. There was a little four-show week in October 2010 that was so well received that I knew the guys had to come back. I set up the whole residency at the Satellite shortly after. It was perfect. We'd have two special guest bands, Har Mar, and Marijuana Deathsquads play every Friday in February. The shows were packed and people really got into it. On all of the other days we'd write and record on each other's songs. We also took a shitload of acid and went to see the Justin Bieber movie in 3D.
You're involved in a number of projects, both musically and multi-media in general. When did you last have a day job?
I think my last day job was when I was 20 or so. I am very grateful for that. My lifestyle is a full-time job, so I'm glad I can devote all of my attention to it. It's a lot of work partying and creating. I worked proofing files for the MN State Board of Education back then. The office was near Har Mar Mall, so I would take lunch breaks and write the early lyrics about people I saw passing by. That's the origin of the whole project.
Catch Tillmann and Charles at the Pizza Luce Block Party on Saturday, August 13. 3200 Lyndale Ave. S. All ages. Free.
Full lineup: P.O.S, Communist Daughter, No Bird Sing, Farewell Continental (featuring Justin Pierre of Motion City Soundtrack), Charles (featuring Jon Kelson, Melinda Parks & Sean Tillmann), Me & My Arrow, Spyder Baybie, Phantom Tails, Koo Koo Kanga Roo, Mages, the 4onthefloor.
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