One thing about Mac DeMarco is that even when he’s mumbling his stream-of-consciousness thoughts at you through the phone, he’s still pretty articulate. His voice, tuned to a soft and warm pitch, can be simple and direct while at other times a blurry murmur. His tendency to trail off doesn’t matter too much though when his humourous, affable demeanour remains discernibly clear. Riding high on a triumphant wave born from his well-received sophomore record, Salad Days (Captured Tracks, 2014), DeMarco didn’t expect such a positive reception – not with eleven tracks that were more personal this time around.
“I think that what I made, I was really scared of it. It was a terrifying thing to show people. The songs were a lot different on this one, and I invested a lot more of myself in it. If people don’t like it, then I’m gonna feel pretty weird about it.”
Considering the nerve-racking experience of working on a record that would automatically be compared to its predecessor, 2 (Captured Tracks, 2012), DeMarco decided to switch things up. That was no small feat, given that 2 included songs such as “Ode to Viceroy”, which existed primarily to praise a cigarette.
DeMarco veered so far away from writing upbeat, universal songs that his label, the Brooklyn-based Captured Tracks, asked him to include one. That number turned out to be the jubilant “Let Her Go”.
“I had a lot of stuff going on in my mind when I sat down to write this album, and when I finished, initially without ‘Let Her Go’ on it, I thought, ‘This is good.’ This is what came up – everything that I wanted to talk about. There you go. To have someone come and be like, ‘Well, we want another song so we can get you on late-night television…’ I don’t give a fuck about being on late-night television. What are you talking about?”
DeMarco is honest without coming off as arrogant or immature, true to the easy-going attitude with which he’s often attributed. But after seeing the music video for “Passing Out Pieces”, you wonder if the 24-year-old guitarist ever burns out.
While DeMarco doesn’t go into what measures he’s taking to make sure he doesn’t burn out, he does talk about how his bass player, Pierce McGarry, pretty much went to town with the video, DeMarco letting him do whatever he wanted. “Passing Out Pieces” feels spontaneous and is weirdly engrossing. This makes sense considering that one of McGarry’s directions was, “It would be pretty funny if you slit Connor’s throat, and then you went back and stuffed Trevor’s head.”
Being able to make videos with friends is something DeMarco prefers after his experiences with 2 where “weird kids” came around, asking to make him videos. It was an experience that, on the whole, factored into him telling the label he didn’t want to do any videos for Salad Days. Judging by DeMarco’s imitation of the label’s response (a doomed “no” most appropriately used in reaction to having just been informed of a disastrous calamity about to unfold), this is another thing that he’s noticed about label input and how much they care about the way you present the music. In the end they agreed to a deal. “The deal was I didn’t want to have any weird kids and treatments or anything. I just want to do it with my friends. I don’t care if they’re super low-budget.”
After having played some great nights in Brighton last month, as well as in Nashville and Asheville, the name Juan Wauters, DeMarco’s label mate who toured with him for the first time this year, was brought up. The mere mention of the musician’s name was enough to make DeMarco respond with complete admiration.
“I love Juan. I loved his music before – his persona, his vibe – but touring with him and getting to know him better was a real treat. He’s the realest motherfucker. He taught me a lot of stuff. There’s something about Juan where he believes in what he does, and he owns it. We played a couple shows in Quebec, and people were like, “What are you? What voice you think? It sounds like Mexican??” It doesn’t matter. Juan’s a real ass pimp. He just hammers through it. He is a blessing to the world.”
Getting DeMarco to say something positive about himself was harder. Stuck as to what the best thing about being Mac DeMarco was, he answered swiftly what the worst thing was:
Having an incredibly small penis.
Mac DeMarco will perform an all-ages show with guests Calvin Love, the Meatbodies, and the Naked Sound Holes
at the Vogue Theatre on Tuesday, July 1.