Mac DeMarco reveals the meaning behind his madness
The Montreal indie-rock star talks about wild times on the road and making amends at home
Mon Feb 18 2013
Photograph: Brad Elterman
For all his onstage beer-chugging, shameless burping and toothy grinning, Mac DeMarco’s musical output is anything but sloppy. With 2, his second 2012 album on Captured Tracks, the eccentric crooner and multi-instrumentalist graduated from requisite Montreal lo-fi act to bona fide success story, touring constantly to deliver his slacker brand of homespun, effortlessly clever jangle pop.
How did it start—what prompted you to pick up the guitar and record your first song?
In junior high school, kids start learning how to play “Stairway to Heaven.” I didn’t want to, but then you realize that all the girls like the guys who can play “Stairway” more than the guys who can’t. I learned, and it turned out I was all right at it, and I pursued it because my family, they’re all musicians, so they got me lessons, yadda yadda.… Then I started going to some shows with the older kids I went to school with. Seeing bands around like that changes your world, because you realize, These guys don’t really know what they’re doing and their band rules. You don’t have to worry about being super prolific or weird or virtuous. You can just start a band!
How do you like touring?
The European tour was right after the album came out, and it was a shock. All the crowds were big and crazy, and all these kids were giving me presents. People tend to draw stuff for me. They either draw me or draw some weird thing; they made these little books and posters, and I hang ’em up all over my house.
Do you intentionally act weird during your gigs, or is it a side of you that comes out naturally?
Our band has become this weird entity, this monster that grows from being together so many times. We’re normal during the day, but onstage something clicks—we don’t plan, but it just happens.
Congrats on getting the opening slot on Phoenix’s tour.
I had one very strange dream about it, where I showed up to the first show and all of our equipment was broken, so we were scrambling to fix it. The Phoenix guys came up to me and were like, “Mac, are you ready to practice? In the contract you said you’d sing with us because our singer is sick.” I’m sure they’re really nice, but I was just like, I…I…I…I don’t know how to do that!
In your song “Freaking Out the Neighborhood,” are you apologizing for anything in particular?
I am. That’s about the family. A lot of songs are about the family on the album. I did a karaoke set in Montreal last spring, and I ended up getting really, really drunk. All my clothes came off, beer got poured over me, percussive instrument tools found their way into my butt and my friend took a video of the thing. I thought it’d be funny, but it goes on YouTube and my aunt sees it, and my whole family. And they were not too pleased. My mom was like, “Mac—what’s going on?” My aunt freaked out and thought I was smoking bath salts. I didn’t present some song to say, look, I’m sorry… it was all clear before. They understand that I’m just a bit of a goof. But I thought it’d be a fun thing to write a song about, so I did.