Musiciens Je Veux Frencher | Mac DeMarco
@ Le Divan Orange 8/22/12
The audience at Le Divan Orange is predominantly male. And tall. I peak over shoulders on my tiptoes. A guy in the audience hits me with his skateboard. The only girls present are dance-jumping, tossing their hair around. Because immobile audiences are way more frustrating, I try not to get annoyed. But still. That’s not dancing. I watch boys watching them. Admittedly, it’ll probably get them laid. More action than I’ll get this evening. Mac DeMarco is strumming a bluesy riff and crooning into a dirty sock. He’s got a great smile. But I spy the girlfriend. She’s impossibly cute. Wearing a huge grey sweatshirt and tiny shorts, she is smileless with big almond eyes. I can’t ask her boyfriend to french me. Not with that dollface looking on. Sigh.
Do I kiss another member of the band? The guitar player also has a girlfriend in the wings. She’s patiently holding his beer and passing it to him onstage between songs. Barf. There’s the drummer? I look hard at him. Gay. And the bass player? He’s wearing a jean jacket with Sylvester the Cat embroidered on the back, in glitter glue. He also has a curly blond mullet and matching fleshstache. Adorable…ish. I’ve come solo. Without a wingman photographer I’m not sure how to pull off the kiss anyway. After taking a few photos with my pitiful camera phone, I’m about to bail on the interview. But for whatever reason I stick around. And although my heavy conscience prevents a make out, Mac gives a really great interview. Sorry for the spoiler, but there’s no hot and heavy in this installment. But we did talk about sex, nudity, and bath salts. I did what I could, you smut hungry brutes.
We sit outside in the window frame of a neighboring store front. Men with mustaches grip pints of beer and wear vintage flannel. Mac takes a drag on his cigarette. Turns out all his tweets about “smoking” are really just that: he smokes. Cigarettes. “Smoking pot doesn’t sit well with me. I don’t know why. My mom is the same way; we just want to clean stuff.” I think it’s strange he’s had this conversation with his mother, but he continues: “I love Viceroys. It’s this American brand from the 50s. Apparently Steve McQueen was their spokesperson at one point. Now it’s just the shittiest Canadian cigarette you can buy.” It’s like rich executives who continue to drink instant coffee, he says, “When that’s all you can afford, that’s what you buy. But then you get attached,” he takes another drag. He looks at the white stem, “I love ‘em.” While some resort to instant coffee or cheap cigarettes, Mac has risked a lot more for grocery money. “I did a lot of medical studies,” he waves his lit cigarette casually. “They’d give me like $20 to shoot magnets into my brain…”
I stop him. Seriously?
“Yeah. One time I had to shove my arm into zero degree water then rate the pain on a keyboard. After it was all done, they came back and apologized saying they’d lost all the data and I’d have to do it all over again. Turns out it was all a hoax, and it wasn’t actually a study on pain tolerance. They wanted to rate how pissed off you got…” He pauses contemplatively, “It was pretty interesting.”
Mac’s lab rat days are over. After attention from Pitchfork and Urban Outfitters, he’s finally started getting a paycheck. He looks off into the street. “It’s crazy.”
His single was recently featured on a Target commercial. “It was for like 3 seconds, and no vocals,” he dismisses. “But they gave me a lot of money. A lot of money…” he rustles his hair. “Some people would have a problem with that, think it’s selling out and all that. But I don’t give a shit. When I wrote these songs I was being humorous and jokey, so I don’t take them seriously. I’m not worried about it, especially if people want to pay me.” DeMarco seems to embrace this throw away culture with an ease, an apathy, and a sense of humor that makes me almost envious. Joey, the drummer, rushes over and sits down. “Dude I’m so sorry. That was so bad.” “What are you talking about man?” “The set, it sounded so shitty.” We calm him down. I chime in with a few “no, it was so great”s. Mac smiles his trademark gap-toothed grin, “Who gives a fuck, right?”
I try my best to break his composure. He answers questions like, “When did you lose your V-card?” and “How does your grandmother feel about your public nudity?” with an arresting evenness. He used to be a ho, he says calmly. “I really don’t remember who it was…” It wasn’t a prostitute or anything? “No, I didn’t lose it to a prostitute,” he laughs. “But I used to be pretty promiscuous. I’ve calmed down a lot. I’m not a dad or anything. Although some people say I dress like a dad.” Brad, a friend from a local band walks up. “I can’t wear skinny jeans like that,” Mac jeers at him. Brad looks down at his black denim defensively. “There’s no room for your balls to shake around,” Mac says standing up. Both of them adjust themselves. I wait in the window sill. “But then if they’re too loose, the balls get droopy, and you have to shift them a lot,” he looks down at me. I’m frowning. He sits back down.
For such a young kid (he’s 22) he’s already clocked a lot of miles on the road – allowing him to purge those promiscuous years fairly early. The “getting naked on stage” phase isn’t over though. “There have been two or three shows where I’ve gotten super drunk, or just been in a weird mood, and end up stuffing things up my ass.” Mac nods casually. “It works really well – even if the music is shitty, you freak people out enough they go away thinking it’s the best show of their life.” However, some return audience members may be disappointed. After baiting friends with promises that “super weird shit will go down” DeMarco warns, “It doesn’t happen every time.” Tonight’s show was evidence. He performed his set casually, singing in his silky baritone, and smiling apologetically between songs, “This is another new one we’ve never played together before.” “Welcome to band practice!” the guitar player joked. Mac didn’t have a mic muff, so he sang into his left sock. (“Yeah, it fucking stunk. I haven’t had a shower for three days.”) Considering the dance jumping, the audience seemed to like it. Yet it isn’t the adoring fandom some bands enjoy. “Maybe if we played cute indie rock we’d get laid, but not with the shit I pull.” Which is a good thing, considering your current relationship status? We both glance over at the gf, Kiera, standing with her arms crossed in a group not far away. Her eyes flicker at us. “I think it’s kind of stressful for her,” he says, “although maybe it’s a relief too. No one wants to get with me after they see me with drum sticks up my ass.” That stunt in particular, he says, regrettably found its way onto the internet. “My whole family saw it. Even my grandma. They all sat down and watched it together.” This spurred a “chapter long” Facebook message from his aunt. “She was really concerned I was on bath salts.”
His cheerful disillusionment is calming. Mac isn’t evangelizing corporate sponsorship or denouncing throw away culture, he’s just “getting on stage and fucking around.” I really like the guy. His complete self-awareness renders his “fuck it” attitude inoffensive. “I have friends who read manuals on how to pick up chicks. I don’t do any of that – I’m just a jack ass. Some guys are gonna comb their hair – I don’t have the time for that shit.” In a glowing review on Pitchfork, journalist Evan Minsker calls him both a “goofy creep” and a “straightforward crooner” admitting that it’s difficult to “parse his irony from his sincerity.” It’s too bad I don’t get to french DeMarco, because I find his ambiguous humor terribly attractive. But as it gets later, I’m reminded just how young these boys are. Sylvester glitter glue is getting antsy and calls out to Mac, “Let’s get the fuck out of here.” Another friend stumbles over, “Are you writing that shit?” I look up at him confused. He points to my pen and paper. Oh, you mean instead of recording it? He looks at me strangely, “Old school.” I hand him my cell phone. “I’ll let you guys get out of here. Will you take a picture of us?” Glitter glue throws his arm around me. Kiera cinches Mac around the waist. Joey misses the queue completely.
“Which button do I push?”
“You’re joking, right?”
“Let’s go home.”
Watch him strut naked in the “Only You” video.
photos courtesy of Christina Hicks, Andrew Volk, Laura-Lynn Petrick, and Jenna Scott