Mac DeMarco Interview
Mac DeMarco has been getting a lot of attention jamming out his self-described “jizz jazz.” It’s easy listening with themes of easy living, smoking, loving and freaking out the neighborhood—celebrating who you are in general. Probably why kids are able to relate and obsess over it so well. Why not? It’s good. Being one of the nicest guys I’ve ever met, Mac was happy to talk before his sold-out show in Oakland’s Fox Theater. Interview and photos by Jordan Joseffer
Tell us about how things have been progressing over the past few years. The first time I saw you, you played a small room in Texas and now you’re playing the Fox Theater.
We’ve pretty much been on tour since 2012. We started with an EP called Rock and Roll Nightclub, did that. The shows were real small. Then the second album came out and more people started coming, but the shows were still pretty small. It kind of kept increasing and now we’re playing big theaters like the Fox in Oakland. I don’t know. We just kind of haven’t stopped but it’s good.
Does it feel crazy how much it has blown up?
It’s funny because I don’t really notice the increments happening. Nowadays, people are introduced to music right now. Like, what the hell? How did this happen so fast? But for us, we have been doing it for years straight so I think it’s harder to grasp while you’re in the middle of it. I don’t know. I think we’ve been able to keep it real. Maybe the rooms are bigger but it’s not like we have crazy pyrotechnics. It’s still the same shit we’ve been doing for years—just new songs and more experience, I guess.
Have you guys developed a crazy rider?
No, the rider is pretty much the same since before they filled it. A bottle of Jameson, a flat of beer—we used to have four McDonald’s meals on the rider. On your first tour no one fills your rider but then they started filling it and the McDonald’s actually starting showing up so we had to take it off. It was a joke in the first place.
Kind of like Van Halen’s no-brown M&Ms request to see if the venue cared.
My version of that is I ask for a map of all the close-by pinball machines because we’re all big pinball fans. They made one for us tonight!
What are the best and worst things about living in this day in age?
I think it’s pretty great. I mean, there are a lot of things that are wrong with it but that’s kind of a long slippery slope to go down right now. In my world, I like to be able to play big shows. It’s great. A lot of kids can find our music now. On the other hand, there’s a lot of cell phones at the concerts.
Has Viceroy cigarettes ever gotten in contact with you to hook you up? You probably helped out their brand a lot with the song.
No. A lot of people don’t even understand that that’s a reference to cigarettes because that brand doesn’t exist in a lot of places in the world. It used to be a big American cigarette brand.
Yeah, but you probably introduced Viceroy as a cigarette brand to a lot of people who didn’t know what it was.
Yeah, exactly. But the idea of the song isn’t, like, try cigarettes! It’s more, like, I have an addiction! In Canada all of the cigarettes are really, really moderated by the government so they wouldn’t do anything and that’s a good thing.
As a smoker, what do you think of vaping?
My whole band loves it. They have these crazy vape pens and stuff. For me, it’s two different things completely. I don’t know what it is but the vapor versus the smoke, what the vapor does to my throat, it like knocks notes out of my range. Smoke doesn’t do that for some reason, so I’m just going to stick to the cigarettes. It’s funny because when it first got popular everyone was vaping in the shopping mall and now they are cracking down on that, like, “No electronic smoking.”
Since you’ve gotten bigger do you feel any pressure to be a role model?
In a way. It’s a little more prevalent where moms and dads have an opinion now, too. It’s trippy because a lot of people who are my fans in the first place are moms and dads. It’s kind of sensory-board style. A lot of my reputation is fucking crazy, gets naked, does insane shit. There has been a couple of incidents where I do a lewd act or say something ridiculous, but for the most part I would say that we’re pretty tame. Well, not tame but I don’t think we were ever a bad influence in the first place. Maybe we drink too much, maybe we smoke too much but so does half the world anyway. It’s funny now being in that position because on one hand I want to set a good example for things that I think are important: be kind, be respectful, be a nice person, live your life, be happy. But the other stuff that people want to make a deal about like smoking or yadda, yadda, the touchy subjects, I’d rather just not even address that because that’s what is really important to me and if that’s what you’re taking away from it, go listen to something else.
Describe “jizz jazz.”
Creamy, milky and a little bit of attitude.
You ever think about doing a lounge covers album like Black Velvet Flag?
I would love to do something like that. The problem is that the musicianship is really hot on Burt Bacharach and lounge stuff like that and I’m just a shitty blues guitarist pretty much, so you know—if I could do something where someone else was taking care of the tricky stuff, that’d be dope.
Did you draw inspiration from Minor Threat’s Salad Days for your “Salad Days” song?
No, I didn’t know that they had that EP until after I had written the song. I thought it was an interesting term and I never heard about it ‘till we were touring around Europe and there was some inside joke going around the car, “The Salad Days of Poo Poo Jones.” It didn’t really make sense but down to the base of it, it is Shakespeare so we’re just ripping off ol’ William anyway.
It seems like you’ve been acquiring a lot of crazy fan stories. Any new stories of people going over the top?
There was this kid in Berlin at an after party and he came up to me really nervous trying to say what’s up and instead of saying anything he just turned around and dropped his pants and he has my full name tattooed on his left butt cheek. That was trippy. Just my name on somebody’s ass. That’s fucked up.
What happened at UCSB last year?
It started like a pretty normal college show but, I guess they have a reputation for crazy shit happening. They had a bunch of teams of security and cops there, like, “If anything possibly goes wrong, we’re taking them out.” I crowd surfed and climbed up onto the second level of the building and was waving at people then a cop grabbed me and put my arms around my back. The band was still playing so I broke free and ran back to the stage and tried to finish the song. Then they cut the power and put me in cuffs. He kept asking for my student ID and I had to explain to him that I was in the band. They just detained me but other kids got arrested that night.
What do you think about cops in general?
I think the police fundamentally and ideally have a purpose, but, uh, I could go down a real hole on this one. It’s more of a matter of who is doing that job: it’s person to person. The people that are doing this and the people that have that power are people too and people make mistakes and people make fucked-up decisions.
Got any good jokes?
What did the donkey say to his dick?
That’s a pretty big donkey dick.
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