Tour Mac DeMarco’s Brooklyn Apartment

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Photos by Sacha Lecca
Interview by Simon Vozick-Levinson

1. Canadian singer-guitarist Mac DeMarco recently invited Rolling Stone to hang out at the Brooklyn apartment where he recorded this year’s excellently laid-back Salad Days. He made the album entirely on his own in a tiny bedroom (pictured) – often with his girlfriend sleeping in a loft bed above his head. “I record pretty quietly,” DeMarco, 24, explains with an easy grin. “Usually, it’s either me doing a guitar track over and over or, like, singing very softly. She probably thought I was a fucking weirdo.”

Read on for more candid snapshots from DeMarco’s place.

2.DeMarco moved to New York last year after stints in Montreal, Vancouver, and his native Edmonton. Recording the follow-up to 2012’s super-buzzed 2, his full-length debut under his own name, came with heavy expectations. “There’s that whole stigma where people are like, ‘You’re going to fuck up on the sophomore album!'” he says. “It drove me completely insane. You just kind of have to forget about it, or you’re just going to end up making this hunk of crap.”

3. DeMarco hangs with his friend and roommate Andy Boay, who’s joining his backing band.”Everybody who lives here is in bands,” DeMarco says of the multi-room space. “I think the other guys have lived here for, like, six years or something.”

4. DeMarco moved to New York last year after stints in Montreal, Vancouver, and his native Edmonton. Recording the follow-up to 2012’s super-buzzed 2, his full-length debut under his own name, came with heavy expectations. “There’s that whole stigma where people are like, ‘You’re going to fuck up on the sophomore album!'” he says. “It drove me completely insane. You just kind of have to forget about it, or you’re just going to end up making this hunk of crap.”

5. DeMarco got into music as a kid in Edmonton, where he briefly entertained dreams of technical guitar wizardry. “My teacher was like, ‘We’re going to turn you into a Joe Satriani, Steve Vai guy,’ and I was like, ‘Uh, OK,'” he recalls. By his teens, he had given up on that and started jamming with his buddies in a series of goofy joke bands. “We were like, ‘It doesn’t matter if we’re good or bad, let’s just get as drunk as possible and go play.'”

6. By the time he turned 20, DeMarco was gigging around Canada and the U.S. to support his early releases under the stage name Makeout Videotape. In 2012, he toured tirelessly to promote his EP Rock and Roll Nightclub and, later, 2. “After we got some good reviews, the shows all of a sudden got way bigger,” he says. “I was like, ‘What the fuck is going on?'”

7. By the time he turned 20, DeMarco was gigging around Canada and the U.S. to support his early releases under the stage name Makeout Videotape. In 2012, he toured tirelessly to promote his EP Rock and Roll Nightclub and, later, 2. “After we got some good reviews, the shows all of a sudden got way bigger,” he says. “I was like, ‘What the fuck is going on?'”

8. “Lately we’ve been getting a lot of bras thrown on stage,” DeMarco says. “Kids just love to crowd surf all of the time. They’ll come up on stage and step all over our shit. It’s crazy, because my music is not punk music or anything. It’s not, like, hardcore. It’s not conducive to mosh pits. But they go insane!”

9. “To me, it’s flattering,” he adds of fans going wild at his shows. “As long as people are having fun. And if ‘having fun’ means starting a circle pit on a really slow, acoustic song, I’m like, ‘Hey, I don’t understand, but that’s cool.'”

10. Salad Days’ easygoing sound has earned many a classic rock comparison – and DeMarco couldn’t be happier. “One thing I hear a lot is, ‘Dude, my mom loves your record,’ or ‘I got it for my dad for Christmas,'” he says. “I’m essentially doing dad rock. Which is great, because I love Steely Dan, you know? Nothing wrong with dad rock!”

Watch Mac DeMarco Video for first single “A Little Bit of Pussy” – NUDE CONTENT!

Mac DeMarco

Mac DeMarco – Photo by Amy Price

 

Mac DeMarco announced he finished a new album, and leaks video for first single “A Little Bit of Pussy”. Unable to hold back his joy, DeMarco took a cue from so many modern artists and laughed in the face of his label, revealing the video for the record’s title track.

DeMarco debut 12-inch album, last year’s ‘Rock And Roll Night Club’ sported a picture of this 22-year-old Montrealer carefully applying a thick smooch of lipstick, and the contents – a collection of weird, woozy lo-fi songs sung in a playful glam-meets-’50s rock’n’roll vein – were recorded primitively, then slowed down a little, giving DeMarco the voice of an inebriated Elvis impersonator. It was sweet and amusing, its enjoyment increased slightly by the sense that DeMarco might have been sitting somewhere cackling that anyone in the world might take such a ridiculous art prank seriously.A year later, DeMarco returns with ‘2‘. This time we get a better glimpse of him. Suburban, slacker, bratty but charming bratty… Ferris Bueller with a guitar, basically. On the opening ‘Cooking Up Something Good’, we get a little glimpse of his home life: Mom slaving over a hot stove, brother out skateboarding, DeMarco in his bedroom way past midnight, chewing on nicotine gum. “Oh, life moves this slowly“, he choruses, lazily. “Just try and let it go…“.
While it may in fact be true that DeMarco has finished his  2 followup, some writers in the music industry doubt he called it A Little Bit of PussyHowever, as writer Ben Kaye stated, “it is clear that DeMarco is a man known for his irreverence” . On second thought, this NSFW video could be completely legit. Maybe. Probably not, but it’s completely worth the laugh either way.

BRAND NEW MAC DEMARCO SONG

Mac DeMarco Jangles and Smirks in Brooklyn

Photo by Christina Hicks

Mac DeMarco: “My Kind of Woman” (via SoundCloud)

Mac DeMarco is a talented, impish kid who hasn’t quite decided what kind of rock songs he wants to write– which is fine, because he’s sounded pretty good doing anything he’s tried out so far. This spring’s Captured Tracks EP Rock and Roll Night Club saw him testing out a bunch of different poses: a grunting low-rent Michael Hutchence lothario, a husky-voiced troubadour. On the upcoming Mac DeMarco 2, he seems to have settled on a single sound, at least for now: warped, winsome, and gently hypnotic jangle-pop reminiscent of Cass McCombs’ first album, A.

Last night, in the tiny, chokingly hot, unventilated smoke box that is the DIY Williamsburg venue Death by Audio, he projected a relaxed cool. He’s reminiscent of someone’s little brother, with smooth-faced good looks that reminded me of one of the eight different boys named Corey in Lisa Simpson’s Non-Threatening Boys magazine. He seemed preternaturally sure of himself, not even growing flustered when the bassist revealed to the audience, in a slightly slurred speech, that the band was somehow short a guitar. (A member of an opening act clambered up onstage to help spot them.) Mac, unconcerned, just flashed a huge grin at us and eased into “Rock and Roll Night Club”.

Mac DeMarco: “I’m a Man”

The tongue-in-cheek title is typical: His songs sometimes feel like they’re smirking at themselves, like they’re songs mocking songs about jeans and girls as much as the real deal. Live, he played this up, slipping bits of chatter into the tunes, warning us a guitar solo was coming up, or hiccuping “bring it back now” before a chorus. His bratty garage rock scream on “I’m a Man” was convincing on its own, but he still chuckled at us after he unleashed it, like he’d just told a slightly dumb joke. After the song ended, he told us it went out to “all the guys out there who have a cock up in their jeans.” It sounds obnoxious, but somehow, it was charming.

Mac DeMarco: “Baby’s Wearin Blue Jeans”

It probably helped that he and his band were so crisp– there was nothing messy, slap-dash, or half-hearted in their playing. In fact, a lot of the new material, despite the surroundings, felt like smartly turned-out, sleeves-rolled, skinny-tie new wave more than lovably scraggly lo-fi rock. Even the scruffier stuff from Rock and Roll Night Club, like the highlight “Baby’s Wearing Blue Jeans”, could have easily have been wafting across a campus green. Mac, for his part, seemed already primed for the transition.

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Mac DeMarco
Rock and Roll Night Club EP
Captured Tracks; 2012

Canadian rocker Mac DeMarco used to record under the moniker Makeout Videotapes (you might have come across that project’s undeservedly overlooked self-titled cassette last year). Now, he’s taking his own proper name to put out an EP on Captured Tracks, Rock and Roll Night Club. The thing drops March 20; “Baby’s Wearin Blue Jeans” is the fourth track on the EP.

Before signing to Captured Tracks, Montreal’s Mac DeMarco made fuzz pop records with Makeout Videotape, who, based on their album art alone, had strange leanings. On Rock and Roll Night Club, he gets weirder and churns out an unsettling brand of soft rock. Take the album’s second track: “You’re rockin’ straight through midnight with me, Dojo Daniel, on 96.7: The Pipe. Up next, we’ve got a triple shot of Mac DeMarco comin’ at ya, stuffin’ it down the chute.” That skit is delivered by an unsettling, near-demonic voice. It’s a jokey moment, but it plays an unexpectedly crucial role for the rest of the EP: It makes the rest of the songs sound comparatively not-creepy. With vaguely grimy imagery like “standing on the corner/ Tryin’ to keep it clean,” delivered in his deep, breathy, sleazy voice, it’s easy to get weirded out by the album’s focal point, which is DeMarco. But stacked against a fictional DJ saying “stuffin’ it down the chute” in an even deeper, even sleazier voice? DeMarco goes from being the sleaziest guy in the room to an outright Lothario.

Obviously, the tone here is both goofy and surreal if Night Club can support a creepy DJ skit near the beginning of the album. That weirdness also spills over into his lyrics. “Baby’s Wearin’ Blue Jeans” has DeMarco fixated on a woman specifically because of her pants, namedropping both Wrangler and Lee in the process. “Straight leg or a boot cut/ I’m begging darling please/ Stay with me forever/ And don’t take off those jeans.” His smoky voice and denim infatuation is complemented by an echoing, light guitar, which throws in a surprisingly welcome yacht rock aesthetic.

Sometimes, it’s difficult to parse his irony from his sincerity, especially in “She’s Really All I Need”, which mixes Partridge Family optimism with harsh realities. (“I feel like I’m dying” and “Don’t bring me down man/ Wearin’ that frown man.”) It’s probably safe to assume that at least 80% of Night Club is laced with a meta joke that nobody’s in on except DeMarco. It’s usually still pretty funny, or in the very least, intriguingly odd.

He’s got a good ear for hooks, too. Behind the hazy, warbling sound quality of the title track, “Blue Jeans”, and “European Vegas”, there are some excellent, albeit simplistic, guitar hooks. For songs with a fairly limited set of instrumentation– one guitar, minimal percussion, a quiet undercurrent of bass, the occasional second guitar– he pulls out some lovely, shimmering melodies. On the same coin, every now and then, he pushes one hook way too far. “Moving Like Mike” is the worst offender, and not only for its Lil’ Bow Wow-reminiscent title. The song just repeats the same three phrases over an uninspired Jimmy Buffett acoustic guitar riff.

The biggest surprise comes at the end of the album with “Only You” (which is lifted from Makeout Videotape’s Ying Yang) and “Me & Mine”, the pair presenting an entirely different aesthetic than the sleazefest that dominates the record’s first half. They introduce a jangling, breezy assertiveness that’s normally reserved for Real Estate songs. Gone is the deep voiced, jean-focused weirdo from 20 minutes earlier. Here’s a guy who’s singing in a sincere-sounding pained falsetto over sunny guitars. One song earlier in “I’m a Man”, he sang, “I’ve been creepin’ around” in his go-to lower register. On “Only You”, he asserts, “Here I am, brand new day,” and he sounds like a new man.

It’s tough to say which DeMarco is preferable: the swooning clear-eyed baritone of the last two songs or the unsettling deep-voiced emoter of the first eight. Really, I’m a fan of both versions– the goofy creep and the straightforward crooner. Ultimately, even if one side’s more of a caricature, it’s a relatively short jump between the DeMarco who sings that “the boogie woogie woman keeps lookin’ my way” and the DeMarco who sings, “I’m done crying over her.”

Via Pitchfork

Mac DeMarco // Rock and Roll Night Club (OFFICIAL VIDEO)

Rock and Roll Night Club’ EP out now on Captured Tracks.
Directed by: Jason Harvey