Mac DeMarco could sneeze into a handkerchief and some lunatic would sleep with the thing under their pillow. When he tags one of his Instagram posts with something like #smallpenis, followers lap it up like Jesus has just reincarnated to perform stand-up. In the past two years, this Canadian cult favourite has started wrestling with a superstar status. By the time third album ‘Salad Days’ rolled around, sad songs about being exhausted were being chanted back by thousands, night-after-night. The irony wasn’t lost on this New York-residing musician who’s doing everything in his power to stay rooted. “I don’t buy new clothes. I don’t buy nice food. I don’t buy nice shampoo,” he lists off. “I have more money now, though. Because we’re not doing this for free, right?”
What started as a casual hobby has since spiralled into a world tour that never looks like ending. Breakthrough release ‘2’ saw this gap-toothed eccentric being lapped up by a new audience. Its follow-up, ‘Salad Days’, was the story of Mac being overwhelmed and at times fed up by his status. “I was pretty grumpy,” he admits. “Back then, I’d get blackout drunk every single night, sometimes when we were still on stage. I’ve reeled it in a little bit, but not that much.” Mac’s the first to claim, however, that the touring lifestyle is “nothing really that you should be complaining about.
“‘Salad Days’ was a mix between ‘Oh maaaan, I hate this’ and ‘Wait a minute, you little brat - you’re so lucky. You get to travel and you’re doing something you wanna do. You’re an idiot for being a little bitch about it.’ It helped me come to terms with that. Ever since then, I’ve felt pretty good.”
Follow-up ‘Another One’ - a mini-album or EP, depending on who you ask. Mac refers to both in the space of thirty minutes - still nods to ‘2’’s touchstones, but it’s immune to the buzz or pitfalls of fame. It’s a loved-up but introverted release, recorded in DeMarco’s Queens space. That’s another thing about the success - “I have a bigger bedroom now,” he boasts.
If there was ever a marker for his barmy, adore-everything fanbase, it was when he decided to auction off a destroyed pair of trainers on eBay. With proceeds going to the WIllie Mae Rock Camp for Girls, this once humble listing took off. Maybe it was the time of year - post-Christmas, kids had cash to spend. But not $21,000. That’s how much the shoes raised, although the winning bidder didn’t pay up. Mac split the fee and made sure the charity of his choice got its funds. “It’s a shame but if you think about it, who would have actually paid that amount of money for a pair of shoes?” he asks, still slightly unaware of the measures his fans would take to get a little piece of Mac. “I let it stay a secret for a while, and I still got the press where it’s like “MAC’S SHOES HAVE GONE FOR 21K”. It’s funny enough - that’s all I really needed. And now a lot of people know more about Willie Mae too. It’s a funny Christmas prank, in a way.”
‘Another One’ was put together in three weeks, hence why DeMarco is slightly hesitant in labelling it an actual record. Once downtime stretches beyond a two-week pocket where he gets just enough time to rest up and write more songs, he’ll turn his attention to a proper full-length. “Eventually I’ll sit down and do some funky new flavour album,” he says. “Everybody’s assuming ‘Mac’s gonna make a synth album.’ Here it comes.” But for me, I’m not a keyboard player, I can play a little bit. It’s not like I’ll be able to come up with this fucking crazy album. I’m not using it in the way Tame Impala uses it as the fucking lead guitar track. I don’t have a grand piano, so I’m trying to make the most piano sound on my rolling synthesisers. I’ve gotta hold myself back though.”
No grand pianos (yet), no champagne-drinking signs of wealthy excess - is this the first sign that he’s trying to rein it in? Is Mac finally at peace with the world, ready to take a proper break? Not quite. “Next year will be… Probably just as fucking crazy, who am I kidding? I used to do a couple of albums a year because I had nothing to do. But now I’m on tour all the time. It’s not as much as I’d like to be doing, but it makes sense. I’m still having fun doing it, so it’s good.”
Photo: Emma Swann / DIY.
Taken from the August issue of DIY, out now. Mac DeMarco’s new mini-album ‘Another One’ will be released on 7th August via Captured Tracks.