Mac DeMarco is somewhere on a dusty road in Arizona when Radar calls. Along with his three bandmates (they’re the ones he’s sprawling over in the photo above), he’s crammed into a station wagon with a heap of musical equipment, a tent and some sleeping bags for company. “I guess not many bands do it this way any more, huh?” he sighs.
Mac’s been touring like this for four years now, ever since he started recording “fucked-up rock’n’roll” when he was 18. He was meant to go to uni, but recorded an album instead, under the name Makeout Videotape. “Everyone at home in Vancouver was like, ‘Oh man, play some shows!’” he says. So, he hit the road, picking up support slots, making posters for warehouse gigs and sleeping on random people’s floors.
Somewhere along the way, Mac started making incredible music videos on 35mm film. For ‘Only You’, he got his old bandmate Alex to dress in drag and squirt cream into his mouth. ‘Exercising With My Demons’ saw him round up a huge gang of his motorcycle mates, dress them as zombies and roam around town scaring the shit out of old ladies. Grimes liked that one, so she posted it on her blog and said, “It’s a crime this video has so few views.”
In a final bid to break through, Mac upped sticks and moved to the big city (of Montreal) – where, as luck would have it, things finally came good for him in the most unlikely of ways.
“One weekend I got really sick with tonsillitis,” he explains. “And my voice sounded all weird so I made a whole bunch of very strange Elvis songs.” The resulting album, last year’s ‘Rock And Roll Night Club’ EP, was as messy as rock’n’roll gets, and easily good enough to land him a deal with Brooklyn tastemakers Captured Tracks. Its follow-up, ‘2’, comes out in October, and is just as eclectic – strained from the same warped DNA that Beck and Evan Dando tapped into in the ’90s, but this time with a sweetness and slowness to proceedings, as dusty Motown drums meander under Mac’s croon. There are more videos planned too, just as soon as Mac gets off the road.
“I don’t think too much about those, though,” he says. “We’ll just get a bunch of people together, buy some forties and get drunk.”
Need To Know
For Fans Of: Lemonheads, Girls
Buy It Now: The ‘Rock And Roll Night Club’ EP is out now on Captured Tracks. ‘2’ will be released this month
See Him Live: Mac hits the UK in November
Believe It Or Not: Mac used to do medical studies for cash. Once, he had a magnet shot into his brain for $20