Perhaps Mac Demarco was so impressed by Kindjacket’s thought-provoking interview with Kim Jong-Un that he agreed to have an interview of his own with us after his recent gig at Brudenell Social Club in Leeds, or maybe it was the fact that we placed “2” 3rd on our end of year list for 2012? Anyway, we’ve reviewed one of his last gigs of his big tour and then managed to catch up with him after the show when he was chilling outside.
The night had begun, as so many of the best do, with a few beers and with Pointless on the TV. Helen Mirren Films? Caligula. John Le Carre novels? The Looking Glass War. Needless to say, I know, but we got down to Brudenell in good spirits and had a pint. For those who haven’t been to Brudenell Social Club before it’s pretty much everything you’d expect a social club to be. There are 2 sides to the venue; one has loads of pool tables and a big TV (showing Leeds vs. St.Helens rugby league when we arrived), and the other had the stage and a long bar. With a capacity of about 150, it’s pretty much the perfect place to see acts like Mac Demarco, who love to interact with the crowd and there was a really intimate vibe. Another big plus for the venue is seeing the difference between the working man who just comes down for a cold one and to shoot some arrows, and the wannabe-relevant youths (me and my friends included). The contrast was pretty hilarious, but definitely adds to the experience.
The first act we saw were Bleached, who rocked out, but got little back from the crowd. Having listened to a little bit of their stuff, I thought it translated into a live performance really well and I’d definitely check them out again. A lull in between Bleached’s set and Mac’s followed, but once the band did their last bits of sound checking, there was a genuine buzz among the crowd and plenty of hollering as the band came on stage.
I think one of the reasons why I enjoyed “2” and “Rock and Roll Night Club” so much was because Mac seems like the sort of guy who just wants to goof around and have fun and it seems easy to relate to him. The band look like they love playing live together (even after a long tour) and had way more energy than you’d imagine. It’s also easy to admire how tightly the band can play, even when they seem to be messing around. The guitar riffs, which sound so slick, almost greasy, on the albums, sounded much bouncier and punchy when played live and the crowd definitely appreciated the effort the guys were putting in. I think the set list was the same as the Pitchfork – Safe For Work live stream that the band did back in February, but with livelier, more raw vocals, which the crowd absolutely loved. The crowd were even lucky enough to get to hear The Beatles’ “Blackbird” and Limp Bizkit’s “Break Stuff” covered again. Of course, Mac smashed “Still Together” too, his beautiful falsetto bringing the blokes sinking Carling at the social club to tears (possibly). Another standout moment was that opening chord of “Ode to Viceroy”, which seemed at the time to be just about the greatest noise a guitar could ever make. Anyway, I could write subjective bullshit about how well Mac plays and how great seeing him live is all day, but the best thing I could say is try and catch him live if you have the opportunity. Even if you don’t know his stuff, the band put on a great show and leave you feeling happy to have seen people who seem so buzzed about playing.
So after the gig, we decided to chance our arm and head back stage to see if we could get an interview with Mac, I bluffed that I was with the Leeds Student paper and he was happy to do it. Seeing as I’d never interviewed anyone before (Milo was an e-mail interview) and was 6 beers deep at this point, perhaps interviewing a dude I pretty much idolise wasn’t the best idea. The conversation starts with some chat about Mac’s beloved smokes. I pick up the recording half way through. It’s kind of long, but hopefully worth reading. Here’s what we got:
Mac (on Viceroys): No, the thing is, the joke with them is they’re not good at all. They’re terrible, but I love them a lot, but they’re the worst cigarette you can buy in Canada.
Kindjacket: What cigarettes are you on here?
Mac: Yeah outside of Canada it’s usually Marlboro red, except for Eastern Europe, they had Viceroy there.
Kindjacket: We were talking about this earlier, what beer do you like to drink in Canada? In the UK we have Red Stripe which is pretty popular on nights like this.
Mac: I don’t know. Happs, it’s the cheapest one on the shelves and it’s the strongest too. So Yeah, you get fucked up and stuff. It’s pretty chill.
Following this there was a brief chat about Mac’s upcoming show at the Garage in London. My partner in crime Mac Dewalo asks Mac if he’ll give a shout out to his brother, Cristophe, whose Birthday it was on the day of the show.
Kindjacket: How have you found the crowds in Europe? Have they been cool?
Mac: Yeah in Europe, they’re cool. The fans are down, but crowds in Europe are a little bit more tame, in mainland Europe I mean. But in the UK the kids like to get crazier.
Kindjacket: We’re an island nation! That’s what we’re like.
Mac: Yeah it’s cool. In Europe it’s strange though because you play a whole set and people are kind of like bobbing along, but they’re very respectful. They’re not yelling shit at you, but I like it when kids yell at me and stuff though. I don’t know…but then they call you for an encore [in Europe], and I’m like: I thought you hated the whole set!
Kindjacket: Haha fuck that! You’re not getting an encore from us, we know the set list.
Mac: Yeah exactly. But it’s just different from the States. UK and States are comparable crowds though, but mainland Europe is a little bit different. Cool though.
Kindjacket: Have you got anything you want to do in London before you leave?
Mac: We’ve got a couple of friends there, we’ll probably hang out with them. I’ve done the London tourist thing before…I came over here when I was 16 or something. I came over during the school vacation. But I don’t know…Touring for me is like, if I have a day off in a city where I have homies, I’ll just try and see them. Especially in London because we have friends from back home and it’s like: when am I ever going to see you again, you know? And plus I have some family there too.
Kindjacket: Are you spending most of your time out in the States now when you’re not touring?
Mac: I’ve spent a lot of time there lately, but I still live in Canada. I just got rid of my apartment, so I don’t have a house there anymore. But when I get back I guess I’ll just jump in the car and go somewhere… [laughs] I don’t know.
Kindjacket: Where is Captured Tracks based again?
Mac: It’s in Brooklyn, New York City.
Kindjacket: Ok, and how long are you going to be with them? Do you know?
Mac: Well the contract is three records, I guess. So “2” was supposed to be my first record on the contract, but it turned out to be my second record with them. So I have two more full-length albums with them, which is great.
Kindjacket: That’s cool. Have you got any plans for the next album?
Mac: I have some demos and shit, like nothing that’s really come together as a proper thing. So I don’t know. I don’t know what it’s gonna be like. But if it ends up turning out like “2” or “Rock and Roll Night Club” I’ll probably just throw it in the garbage and try again.
Kindjacket: No! Fuck that!
Mac: Well I like those records but I wanna make something new. You know?
Kindjacket: Yeah, sure. That’s cool. So what’s the next album going to sound like?
Mac: I don’t really know…It’ll probably sound more like “2” than “Rock and Roll Night Club” but I don’t really know. I’ve been playing keyboard a lot more recently. So a bit more synthy. Not synthy like a dancey synth album but…
Kindjacket: I’d like to hear you on Piano.
Mac: I’m ok. I’m not so good. You know the band Beak? I think they’re from Brighton. I’ve been really into them. They’re a great band. That kind of shit is kind of dissonant and weird. I think I’m going to try and do less guitar, or less electric guitar, you know the sort of jangly thing, but I have no idea, it’s just going to be pop songs again. [check out Beak’s song Yatton]
Kindjacket: That’s cool. If you had a record that you wish you could make or an ideal record you would have loved to make, do you know what it would be?
Mac: Yeah. It’d be Plastic Ono Band by John Lennon.
Mac: Yeah. It’s like the best record ever. Soo good, it’s fucking crazy.
Kindjacket: You’re a Steely Dan fan too aren’t you?
Mac: Yeah I love Steely Dan.
Kindjacket: Can’t Buy a Thrill is one of my favourite albums.
Mac: I would actually prefer to make Aja, but I like Can’t Buy a Thrill too. Aja’s got like 8 songs on it and it’s fucking great. So good.
Kindjacket: I saw somewhere that you’re a fan of Weezer too?
Mac: Yeah I think I mentioned it somewhere and it got written up as “Oh I like Weezer”, but everyone thinks I’m a huge Weezer fan. Plus we did that cover on whatever media-buzz-whatever-thing…I don’t know what the fuck it was called…I mean I liked Weezer as much as any other kid my age when we were in junior high school, but I’m not like a die-hard fan. The new albums are not that good.
Kindjacket: Are you a David Bowie fan at all?
Mac: Yeah I love David Bowie.
Kindjacket: What are your favourite albums?
Mac: Ziggy Stardust. That album is so sick. Pretty much his first couple of albums are like…you can’t fuck with that shit. Every song is a hit. It’s crazy. I like his 80s stuff too. That’s cool.
Kindjacket: How old are you now?
Kindjacket: Do you reckon it’s kind of the age you’re at now where you kind of either have to be a grown up, or you’re maybe in between being a grown-up and a kid?
Mac: Yeah. I can act grown up if I want to be. I mean I used to work like fancy jobs or whatever. Well, sometimes I would. Sometimes, I’d work the worst jobs. If you’ve gotta act grown up, you’ve gotta act grown up but if you don’t have to then you can go and party and not be a grown up.
Kindjacket: Yeah I saw an interview where you were talking about a horrible job…it was cleaning up after animals or something. Was it in an abattoir?
Mac: Oh yeah. I worked in a vet clinic. Actually that was pretty sweet though. That was my first job ever and I got paid. It was like 3 hour shifts though and 3 hours is nothing but it felt like so long, and during a shift I’d jack off like 4 times.
Kindjacket: So what are your plans for tonight then Mac?
Mac: Party hard.
Kindjacket: Yeah! Yeah!
Mac: Yeah, we’re homies with Widowspeak and Sean Savage, who’s also on tour with us, and we’re friends with Bleached too so it’s gonna be pretty cool. They’re all nice guys.
Kindjacket: do you find on tour you get on with people pretty well?
Mac: Yeah. I mean whether it’s like other bands or the kids coming to the shows. Yeah, I try. There are some bands who are like “GET OUT OF MY FACE!” But if kids wanna hang then I’ll try my best to. Sometimes I can’t because I feel like I’m about to die. But you know, usually I’m game, so I do my best. We’ve done like 8 months of touring since September, with a bit of time off. My whole body feels like a little fucked up, but that’s fine.
Kindjacket: Have you got any plans to do anymore videos for the singles from “2”?
Mac: Nah…I don’t think so. I think we’re done now. Maybe some people would wanna try. There’s a couple of people who wanted to do videos for “Freaking Out the Neighborhood”.
Kindjacket: I thought the last video was perfect and the Viceroy video was quality too.
Mac: Yeah I liked that.
Kindjacket: How much budget went into making the “My Kind of Women” video and what was it like to make? I guess back in the day you had a lot more…control of your videos. One of the earliest videos I saw was the “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s my Brother”
Mac: Yeah I just did that when I was chilling at home. I just recorded myself walking around.
Kindjacket: That song is underrated I reckon. It’s quite emotional too.
Mac: Yeah I love that song.
Kindjacket: Do you have a brother?
Mac: I do yep. His name is Enrico, or Hank. The Italian for Hank is Enrico I guess. [Mac says his brother’s full name but I can’t make out what it all is…Even if I could I reckon Hank probably doesn’t want everyone to be knowing his full name so I’ll just leave that out and save him from having his bank or e-mail account being hacked into]. And he’s a ballerina.
Kindjacket: You mention that in “Cooking up Something Good” [sings the line “my brother’s in the ballet”]
Mac: That’s right!
Kindjacket: Anyway…where were we? Oh yeah. The last video you did it looked like it was big budget. Well, bigger than some of your earlier ones.
Mac: Yeah, most of the videos I do are just like: Hey man! You make videos. Do you wanna get a 6 pack and we’ll just make one in a couple of hours? But some of them like European Vegas, my friend Angus made, and those are the videos where sometimes people are like: I really wanna make you a video. So I’m just like ok, you do all the work and I’ll just show up and act like me on camera. I mean I don’t really necessarily like doing videos like that, you know having other people’s fingers in my pie, or whatever, I’m not a huge fan of that. But when it turns out good, it turns out good. For the “My Kind of Woman” video these kids from LA were emailing me, and I was sort of replying, I was like: oh cool, you have a treatment for a video, yeah I’ll read that, kind of, someday and then this kid got my phone number somehow! And he was like: err hey man. Did you get my treatment? And I was like err…Yeah. I loved the treatment!! So I went down to LA and got picked up at the airport by this kid, who I had actually never met before, and they got me super drunk every night and dressed me up like a woman. It was very strange. But I’m up for anything. I don’t think I’ll be doing videos like that too much anymore but it’s cool.
Kindjacket: So the making of that video was not lead by you at all?
Mac: No, not in a single way. I just showed up.
Kindjacket: If you had full control of a video and the biggest budget ever do you know what you’d like to do?
Mac: Oh it’d be the most fucked up video.
Kindjacket: Haha yeah. Cool. If you could make a video for someone else’s song do you know what you’d do?
Mac: I don’t know. I mean I don’t really make videos that much.
Kindjacket: Yeah, I was going to ask about this actually. I read somewhere online, obviously it could be bullshit, but I read a description of you as a multimedia artist. Does that piss you off?
Mac: No, no. It doesn’t piss me off, I just think it was a bit weird, they called me multimedia artist Mac Demarco. I mean, maybe I’ll put a stupid photobooth video on my facebook page, but other than that I’ve never made a video.
Kindjacket: Do you remember where that was?
Mac: Ahh fuck. I have no idea. That was a long time ago. It was in New York.
Kindjacket: Yeah. I thought it was bullshit because nobody listens to an album and goes, ahhh it’s a multimedia artist.
Mac: Well I don’t know how they got the idea, but they said [Rock and Roll Night Club] was a psychedelic movie project. And I was like: Dude, what the fuck are you talking about? But it’s cool though. I mean the more people think about me…That was my thing at the time with Rock and Roll Night Club. I don’t wear lipstick, I don’t play shows shirtless very often, and I’m not like a crooner guy, so the whole thing was pretty funny with what the internet thinks about me. People would write weird shit and I’d be like sure, whatever!
So, that was what Mac Demarco had to say for us. We can now write weird shit about him online too! We finished the interview and then headed back inside to watch Widowspeak play, who are also well worth checking out. Their new album “Almanac” is one of my favourites of 2013, and we got to meet the band afterwards and they were cool guys. We then went to some guy’s house party and had some beers and it was pretty awesome to be able to chill out with the guys from Bleached and Widowspeak, as well as Mac and his band. Mac was true to his word and partied hard that night. My abiding memory of him is seeing him with a plastic Sainsbury’s bag round his neck and a beer in his hand. Anyway, if you get the opportunity to see them, I would definitely recommend going to check out all 3 bands. They put on an awesome live show and if you’re lucky, they might be down to party afterwards too.