Har Mar Superstar tells us about his new gig as a mailman
Sean Tillmann has had a few personas over the years, most notably as Har Mar Superstar who's been making hipster '80s-inspired dance pop for the last 20 years. (He's also fronted indie rock band Sean Na Na and more recently formed duo Heart Bones with Sabrina Ellis.) But now he's got a new non musical gig as a United States Postal Service mail carrier in his hometown of Minneapolis. "I fucking love it," he wrote sharing the news on Instagram back in November, adding that he was "working hard and doing my best to follow in John Prine’s footsteps over here."
Har Mar hasn't given up music and has a new '70s-style piano ballad album titled Roseville, out early next year, but he's enjoying touring -- his mail route -- right now and is very busy in this holiday season. We chatted with Sean via email about how Bandcamp Fridays played a part in his new job, similarities between being a mail carrier and a musician, the trial by fire that is the busy USPS holiday season, what musicians he thinks should get a postage stamp, the mood of Minneapolis in the wake of George Floyd's death, and more.
Read our Q&A below.
What made you want to work for the postal service? How long have you been doing it?
I’ve always been in awe of mail carriers. It’s just always seemed like a badass service to me. I liked the idea of the hardcore work that involves a lot of exercise, solitary time, community service/connection, and the team work that comes with it all. I was shipping out tons of records this year thanks mainly to Bandcamp Fridays happening, and I was hanging out so much at the post office sending things out that I jokingly quipped that I should just work there. Everyone’s eyes lit up and said I should, and I started to really consider it. After having a chat with our awesome carrier, Tracy, I decided to go for it, and I here I am! I’m just over 2 months on the job now.
Are there any similarities being a mail carrier and being a musician?
There so many similarities. I clock in, and I’m on tour. I drive a van around all day. I’m loading and unloading just like being on the road. I’ve always been in that “almost” level of rock and roll where I make enough to live off of tour and pay the band fairly but not enough for us to live luxuriously. I’ve always tour managed myself (save for a few lucky tours), and the organization skills I learned from that are extremely useful at USPS. The first couple hours of the day are crucial as far as loading the van correctly to set yourself up for the day. It’s right up my alley. I get to talk to myself all day.
How has it been working the busy holiday season?
USPS prepares for this all year. It really feels like being one of Santa’s elves right now. For me it’s trial by fire because I basically started in the middle of it all. I’m holding up well though I’m not excited to add snow and 0 degree weather to the mix. I consider myself lucky that it’s been unseasonably warm til this point this year. I’ll survive. My co-workers all of have plenty of tips for keeping warm.
Trump has not been very nice to the USPS during his presidency, does Biden's win give you and your coworkers hope for the future of the Post Office?
I really like this job. No comment. Ha!
Minneapolis which has been through a lot this year with the killing of George Floyd and everything else. What's the mood like there now?
I think the events of 2020 in Minneapolis were a microcosm of the entire country and even the world right now. Things need to change on many levels, and the fact that we had enough time to turn inward and reflect were huge for getting that started. There is a general vibe of rebuilding and community in the air. I think a lot of eyes were opened to injustices out there that they may not have been aware of before.
What musicians do you think should get their own official postage stamp?
John Prine should definitely have his own stamp. I’d buy 1000 of them. He’s a huge inspiration for me wanting to sign up with USPS. He started his career delivering mail and writing songs in his head.
Do you co-workers know about your musical career?
I think a bunch of people knew about it when I started. The word is starting to spread more now that articles are starting to pop up. It’s cool. I feel very lucky that people are so nice at the Eastside office here in Minneapolis.
You recently appeared in Adam Schatz's musical radio play/podcast, Pumpkin. How did you get involved in that?
Adam Schatz and I have many mutual friends and have always admired each other’s work from afar. His band Landlady is great. We hung out a few times here and there, and he thought I’d be the perfect silly, unconfident serial killer for the radio play. I was thrilled to be involved. It turned out great, and I was proud to be in such a great cast. I’ve always done theater, and I’ve been doing a lot more of it in the past few years. It’s another passion of mine.
What else have you been working on, musically?
I am finishing up a new Har Mar album right now. It’s called Roseville and should be
released in Feb or early March 2021 on my own label Love OnLine. It’s rooted in my fascination with 70s piano ballad soft rock. It’s a fully distance recorded, big production, full band with horns album that is deeply inspired by Todd Rundgren, Elton John, Phil Collins, and even Meat Loaf. It’s my most personal album yet. Melancholy yet earnestly hopeful, and more fun than that probably sounds. Ha!
Anything else we need to know?
I get excited when people upgrade from mail slot to mailbox. Individually wrapped snacks and beverages are always welcome. It is a pleasure to serve you.