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Sean Na Na: Dollars for Your Thoughts?

 story by tim mcmahan



Lazy-i: Nov. 1, 2006

Sean Na Na
Sunday, Nov. 5, 9:30 p.m.
O'Leaver's Pub
1322 Saddle Creek Rd.

For a couple reasons, Sean Tillmann a.k.a. Sean Na Na a.k.a. Har Mar Superstar didn't have much to say.

Reason one: He was calling from somewhere in Canada on his way to a gig in Toronto that night and "this call is costing me dollars a minute." It apparently didn't matter if I was calling him. I thought all these rock stars were super-rich?

Reason two: Though he has a lot going on, the superstitious Tillmann doesn't want to talk about any of it because "I don't want to jinx it."



Fair enough. Regardless of his brevity, over the course of our 3-minute discussion, Tillmann did pass on a few tidbits of information. Among them, why he was touring again through Omaha as Sean Na Na when he hasn't released an album under that moniker in more than four years.

But before we get to that, an explanation is in order as to Tillmann's Sybil-like multiple personalities: The Minneapolis-based singer-songwriter has made a living for years performing both as the light-hearted funkster Har Mar Superstar and the more serious, introspective Sean Na Na. If Har Mar is Tillmann's personal tribute to egocentric rock-star sexism, Sean Na Na is his take on sensitive singer-songwriters with an edge, playing simple rock ballads about double-dates with groupies, shallow party people and the eternal search for a "sugar mommy."

It's the introspective one -- not the sex-fiend -- who is slated to take the stage at O'Leaver's Nov. 5. This can't be stressed too often, because the last time Tillmann played to a packed O'Leaver's (in October 2004) he performed as Har Mar. And while there's little doubt that O'Leaver's will be packed once again, the patrons should be prepared for a night of singer-songwriter fare rather than costumed hi-jinx.

So back to our micro-conversation. Tillmann acknowledged that it has been forever since the release of My Majesty -- the last Sean Na Na CD on Frenchkiss Records. "I made a new album, but it won't be out until next spring," he said, refusing to reveal any record label details. "I'm doing this tour now to get back out there and figure out what's going on. I'll be playing about half old and half new material."

Helping out in his band is Omahan Denver Dalley, the frontman for Statistics and former member of MIA Saddle Creek band Desaparecidos. Tillmann says he and Dalley go way back. "We're friends from touring from when Denver was in Desa," he said. "I hang out in Omaha a lot; I've got a lot of friends there. I was initially drawn to Omaha by the music, and because it's a pretty close drive."

Tillmann said friendships often play a role in his touring life. For example, Sean Na Na just finished opening a leg of a sold-out tour for super-hot indie band The Hold Steady, who also happens to be from Minneapolis. "When I was in my first band, we shared practice space with those guys and have been friends for a long time. Touring with them made sense."

From this point in the call, Tillmann's answers became short. So was it true that he insisted on playing the smallish O'Leaver's even though he could probably fill a larger club? "Yeah. We'd rather play somewhere where it's packed than a room that's under sold."

All right, so is Har Mar dead? "I'm gonna do this for awhile. If I do the Har Mar stuff again, it won't be for a long time."

Are you burned out on Har Mar? "I was. I'm not really any more. I don't prefer one over the other. Anything else?"

Yeah -- can you tell me anything that will help me write this article? "Not really. There's tons of stuff going on, but like I said, I don't want to talk about it because I'll jinx it. I will say that I can't wait to come to Omaha and steal everyone's girlfriends."

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Published in The Omaha Reader Nov. 1, 2006. Copyright © 2006 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.










"I was initially drawn to Omaha by the music, and because it's a pretty close drive."