In 2012, Vernor Winfield McBriare Smith IV, perhaps better known as Mac DeMarco, was signed to New York City’s ultimately hip independent label, Captured Tracks. That same year at the ripe age of 21, the big kid dropped his debut LP 2 which was met with universal acclaim from fans and critics alike.
Since the release of the dreamy, jangle-pop 2, the life of this jovial prankster has spiralled almost uncomfortably out of the Canadian’s control. The loveable goof is one of the most sought after dudes around. So much so that in 2012 Mac embarked on a worldwide tour (which, might we mention, is still happening in 2014) that has allowed almost every pocket of the globe witness the endearing gap-toothed grin of this denim-clad indie prince.
With the physically demanding torture of relentless touring, relocating from Montreal to New York, throwing in the painstaking rarity of seeing his girlfriend and oh, let’s not forget the underlying pressure to both write and produce a promised follow-up record to 2, it should be of no wonder that Mac DeMarco is a little fuckin’ is tired, frustrated and just wants to, as the man put himself, “sit on my ass all day”.
Despite such a yearning to do nothing, DeMarco’s second full-length release Salad Days, which arrived at the start of April, is unquestionably his magnum opus. Lyrically, the record displays DeMarco begrudgingly ditching his childhood perhaps a little premature than Mac had intended, for DeMarco this could be likened to tossing away a Viceroy pack that had a fistful of cigarettes left.
We were lucky enough to catch the ‘Brother’ singer as he set out for a nightly feed in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. Having seen this boisterous man-child perform two sets during his recent Australian visit as well as scouring the internet for every known interview with the musician, there was a preconceived notion he would be a ‘best pal’, a feeling every person feels when they observe this accessible human.
The question on the tip of all tongues facing the Montreal maestro focuses on the departure of 2’s carefree crooning to the serious lyrical content of Salad Days. DeMarco’s sandpaper husk initially appeared anxious to dive right into to such discussions, “I was on tour a lot before I wrote Salad Days. Right after I finished recording we went back on tour, so I think Salad Days is indicative of me just being burnt out from the touring.”
Growing comfortable, he continued “I’d moved to New York and different things had happened in my life, I dunno, things kind of got crazy for a while… it just kind of came out. It was the first opportunity I’d had to sit down and think about how my life had changed.”
In what sounded like a scratch of the head, still somewhat dumbfounded by such a feat, Mac admitted, “I did the whole thing in the month of November, 2013, it was a pretty weird month. I’ve always recorded everything on my own. I’m sure a lot of people can play what I’m playing, but with the recording, I’ve never had a good experience in the studio”. That’s right; every instrument on Salad Days has been played, recorded and produced single-handedly by Mac DeMarco in a mere month. Is the idea of his overwhelming exhaustion growing apparent?
Speaking more directly, DeMarco detailed his state of consciousness upon hearing the new body of work he’d created, “listening back I’m usually kind of like ‘oh yeah man fuck this is great, this is a fun song!’ but this time was the first time where I’ve been like ‘oh man…do I really want to show this to people?’, pausing for a moment, clearly still raising the question within himself, he then affirmed, “that was definitely a new feeling for me. At the same time, I think it’s helpful for me to get that kind of stuff out of my system. It helps” emphasising the cathartic significance of his adult writing experience.
In dissecting the lyrics of ‘Passing Out In Pieces’ that read “what Mom don’t know has taken its toll on me” Mac loosely stated, “I think it was kind of like you know…” trailing off, like we should know, “wild shit happens on tour a lot. Abusing my body, just fuckin’ wreckin’ shit, you know? Just getting toasted, toasted on the road” as his charming cough-chuckle took hold.
And oh boy, when the Canadian crew take to the stage, they certainly do set shit alight. In an ode to his backing band he reflects, “they’re all really old friends of mine so I think the shenanigans and shit on stage started as us being like friends having fun with each other.”
If you’re yet to experience a DeMarco set, picture yourself in Mac’s Mom’s basement watching an old group of pals as they mess around having a rad time banging out jizz-jazz face-melters. Seriousness appears sparingly, “the whole live thing has become me being with them, and the songs change when the band plays them, it’s its own thing, it’s pretty quintessential in far as the whole performance goes.” Quick to shoot, DeMarco made it emphatically clear how his concerts were to be experienced, “I don’t wanna bum people out with playing live, it’s supposed to be a fun thing.”
Abruptly halting, he nervously opened-up about keeping his stage-presence afloat with childish fart-jokes and the like, “it is also probably a little bit of a safety net/mechanism type thing for me. Everybody gets a little bit shy, a little bit whatever, so, it’s harder to be straight up with people than to be a joker I think.” In typical DeMarco fashion, this serious Salad Days sentiment dissipated promptly, “it also is handy to keep people a little bit confused, ‘cause then they got kind of double-take” as he split into another fit of laughter.
Having performed over 170 concerts in a mere two years, the 23-year old could provide no guide for staying alive when on the road. “I don’t know. I lose it a lot. I think it’s ‘cause I drink way too much and we do a lot of messed up stuff” sounding rather defeated, his voice trailed off “I’m just getting crazier and crazier and someday I’ll just be in a mental hospital”.
Australians were lucky enough to witness the prowess of Maccy-D in December of 2013 as he sunk his gappy teeth into the wagon of the one and only Meredith Music Festival.
The mention of Australia provided a fresh wave of positivity over the 23-year old’s husky demeanour, “I loved Australia! It was great! People are super nice and made me feel right at home. I went snorkelling for the first time, it was amazing!”
And what say Mac on the hallowed ground that is Meredith? “I didn’t do anything too crazy” he initially promised. “I was just wondering kids’ tents, meeting people”.
Perhaps prompted from being spotted wandering around the ‘Sup very early Sunday morning amongst the most stamina-laden festival goers, DeMarco let the honesty flow “that was probably the most messed up I’ve ever been in my entire life…but it was really really great!”
“I went for a swim in this creek like way the fuck away from the festival very early Sunday morning. I took a little dip and as soon as I got in the water I was like ‘why did I do this!? So cold!!!’ I got all these thistles and shit (laughing) I dunno, but man it was real fun though!”
On the topic of Aussies, Mac recounted one of the craziest experiences he’s had with a fan, “I think he was from Tasmania…” waiting for a laugh before he progressed, “this kid pulled a large majority of his hair out in front of me and kicked the kid I was touring with in the face in Rome. He was screaming and writhing around saying (DeMarco puts on a manic voice) ‘everything will be fine if Mac DeMarco plays one more song’. So… that was really weird.” Rushing to defend his fans, Mac cemented, “kids give weird presents all the time but I’m just grateful, it’s cute that they’re so into the music, it’s cool.”
With the jizz-jazz extraordinaire growing tiresome in dwelling on the cruel lover that is touring, the worn-out musician’s downtime revolves around doing nothing, “I just like to sit on my ass and do as little as possible. Maybe record if I have the time. I try not to write or anything unless I know I have a good chunk of time to put something together, I just chill.”
Commenting on his fresh digs in Brooklyn of New York City he explained “I do explore when I get the chance, but then again I’m not here that much. It is kind of nice though, once touring finally dies down I get to be like ‘yeah I’m going back to New York and I’m going to have a good time there, that’ll be okay!’”.
However, in the world of Mac D, there is no time for chilling on his ass anytime soon. With the release of Salad Days DeMarco and his mates are staring down the barrel of 40+ shows in North America and Europe/The UK.
On whether he’ll be swimming in any Aussie creeks any time soon, all that could be confirmed was “hopefully we’ll be able to squeeze Australia in there again. I’d like to come back”.
“I’m just gonna try and see the whole god damn world by the end of this year I hope.”
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