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RETURN OF THE MAC Mac DeMarco’s shaping to get lewd, rude and hopefully a little bit nude when he brings his “jizz jazz” Down Under this summer. He tells Samson McDougall about letting go of the lipstick.


ac DeMarco’s second ‘proper’ album, 2 (he’s got, like, hundreds of other selfreleased recordings), has summer good times written all over it. The Canadian slacker is currently in the country for an early summer tour that incorporates Victorian favourite Meredith Music Festival (“I was just on the phone with another guy,” he says, “did he say something about a naked race at the end?”). This latest record is a bit of a jump from the rawness of Rock And Roll Night Club, his ‘debut’ of last year, but his lazy aura still sprawls throughout. Truth is, the dude’s been even busier than usual. He’s a bit of a natural travelling spirit and since being snapped up by über-cool NYC label Captured Tracks, touring’s been DeMarco’s MO. “I was from a town called Edmonton, Alberta, kinda like mid-western Canada, people call it, like, the Texas of Canada,” says DeMarco of his beginnings. “I played in a bunch of bands, that’s pretty much where I got my start. I ended up moving to Vancouver when I was, like, 18 and that was where I started playing a lot of shows

Tracks picked me up and then this year has been very strange... I’ve pretty much only been on tour this year.” Somewhere amidst the madness DeMarco conjured 2, which in many ways grounds him as some kind of ‘serious artist’ more than continuing with the live-fast-die-young, frenetic nature of the debut and previous selfreleased stuff. “For 2 it was a big change from the first album, I went from weird rock’n’roll motif – like, stereotype leather boots, ride your

orbits of pop music converge, though the mid-tempos and sleepy vocals on Rock And Roll Night Club harbour a kind of sadness. 2 is a much brighter affair. Where the former slips into a kind of introspective daze, the latter clips up the pace and puts on a happier face. “The Kinks and The Beatles, big bands like that,” he says of his heroes early on, but also says he lowered the bar of his own expectations by listening to plenty of more musically challenged acts. “On the one hand I have these super great amazing perfect bands and on the other hand it’s bands with great songs that are pretty sloppy but they’re really cool. “On 2 I would run these strange effects through this really clean amplifier and try and get a good tone and bring in the microphone and make sure nothing was kinda weird sounding with the other instruments on the recording. I stopped playing the guitar like an arse and started trying to play more like a bass where it’s, like, complementary to the other things on the recording rather than just being this huge shredding centrepiece where you can’t really hear anything else.” As a result, the guitar tones are bright but brittle, twanging and warbling at the borders of tuned-ness. His instrument of choice is a weathered old bash-around he’s been lugging about the countryside from the start. “I got it when I was 16 or something and it’s gone through a lot of different makeovers because it breaks all the time – it’s actually broken right now,” he says. “I’ve tried other guitars and I don’t like the way that they sound and I don’t like the way that they feel – unless I bought a $5,000 guitar or something, but if I had something like that I’d feel weird, I wouldn’t want to throw it around and stuff... [My guitar] has a problem where it breaks strings every show, the people from the label are, like,

“I STOPPED PLAYING THE GUITAR LIKE AN ARSE AND STARTED TRYING TO PLAY MORE LIKE A BASS.” in town. I did a little bit of touring and then eventually a couple of years later I ended up in Montreal.” Montreal proved a tougher nut to crack in terms of regular gigging and led DeMarco to spend more time messing around with recording. “It’s like nobody has jobs there ‘cause everybody’s doin’ their art project or something,” he says. “I mean, you’ve gotta play because you like playin’, y’know, it’s not about gettin’ money, but in Vancouver it just turned out I could make a substantial amount of money and support myself just from playin’ in town, which doesn’t really make any sense in the first place. So Montreal was a bit different but it gave me the opportunity to work on some other things.

Harley Davidson-style weird stuff – to, ‘Oh, this is who I am and I don’t wear lipstick all the time and check it out’: that was the second album.” He says that now the relative success of the more even-tempered 2 does put a bit of pressure on him to toe a slightly straighter line, at least in his recorded work.

“I kinda slowed down a little bit because I couldn’t really hustle it with just show money anymore... I started focusing more on recording I guess and I wound up making that Rock And Roll Night Club album somewhere down the line and then Captured

The origins of DeMarco’s sound lie somewhere around where the fringes of punk and the outer


‘You have to get a back-up guitar, you break strings every show’... I just don’t like playing anything else.” For the purposes of touring he’s enlisted three buddies to bring his songs – which the folk at Meredith are labelling “the world’s most well crafted modern pop with brilliant duelling guitar interplay as a sub-plot”, but that he refers to as “jizz jazz” – to life. His performances are famously wild affairs. “In the right circumstances it definitely can [get crazy] if the kids want it – if the kids want it, they can have it,” he says. “But if they don’t, then it probably won’t. That’s my main idea of doing shows; it’s about, like, an experience between... The kids have gotta be close; it’s for them and they’re there for me.” WHAT: 2 (Captured Tracks/Spunk) WHEN & WHERE: 12 Dec, The Standard; 17 Dec, Oxford Art Factory

The Music (Sydney) Issue #18  

The Music is a free, weekly gloss magazine of newsstand quality. It features a diverse range of content including arts, culture, fashion, li...

The Music (Sydney) Issue #18  

The Music is a free, weekly gloss magazine of newsstand quality. It features a diverse range of content including arts, culture, fashion, li...