Exclusive Interview: Mac Demarco

Artwork by Grant Gasser

Interview & Photos by Fletcher Moore

MILD: “This Old Dog” is influenced by the likes of James Taylor and Paul Simon. Have you considered reaching out to those artists, or any others, for a guest spot on one of your records?

DeMarco: Um, I don’t know. The whole thing with collaboration is if it happens, it happens... Publishing companies try to do that a lot… It kind of feels like you’re getting set up on a playdate. And especially with huge artists like that, there’s no other way. You’re not just going to meet somebody like that at a party or something and be like “oh, we should crash at my house, lets record tomorrow.” Who knows? For me it’s just if it happens, it happens. If not, I enjoy making records on my own as well.

MILD: At your old home in New York you were tracking drums for “This Old Dog.” At your Nashville show you mentioned that you scrapped them to go in a different direction. Do you have a particular reason for doing that? Is there anything that changed during the move from New York to Los Angeles?

DeMarco: I wasn’t getting a good sound in that room that I was working in at Rockaway. I had a version of that song that was already recorded and the one that you were at my house for I was redoing the whole thing... What ended up happening was I wasn’t able to re-record songs really, I just ended up using the demo versions and then fixing some of the aspects. I redid the drums of “This Old Dog” in LA. I think redid the bass as well. The vocal and guitar… is just from the first time I sat down and worked on it in New York.

MILD: On subreddits there is a lot of speculation about your personal life. Some guy says that he thinks he found your house on Google Maps. These people are digging deep trying to figure out every aspect to your life. What crosses the line?

DeMarco: I don’t know, I’m pretty open to people. If somebody wants to say what’s up because they listen to my music that’s totally fine... I invited people to my old house, that’s one thing, but I didn’t invite anybody to the new house. That becomes worrisome. But at the same time, you know, whatever. I’d prefer if people didn’t come over and bother my girlfriend all the time. It’s just strange. I don’t understand why it happens for me. People really are invested in more than just the records -- which is kind of funny to me -- but it’s the way it is and that’s fine with me.

MILD: It’s hard for some people to realize that you’re famous, but you’re just like everyone else. People tend to put you on a pedestal like you’re a mystic being or something.

DeMarco: I think it’s just the concept of celebrity... but it just doesn’t happen to people in the indie rock realm... It’s just out of place. But for like huge, huge celebrities I’m sure it’s a pretty commonplace. I think that’s why it’s bizarre. It’s kinda funny, it’s kinda cool.

MILD: Is there any kind of collaboration coming with Ethan and Hila of H3H3 or are you guys just hanging out?

DeMarco: Maybe, I don’t know. We both live in LA, we’ve been hanging out a little bit, so maybe. We’ll probably do something at some point. The interesting thing to me though is I’ve experienced it before when Tyler the Creator first started shouting us out, and we started getting a lot of Tyler’s fans at the shows, which is cool. But I didn’t realize that me and Ethan having a small interaction on the internet (would be) the main thing (I’d be) getting asked on this tour.

MILD: Cities like Nashville are oversaturated with musicians trying to catch a break. For most, the ultimate goal is a record deal. Do you think that is something still worth working toward during a time where most of the tools that an aspiring musician needs for success have become more accessible and affordable?

DeMarco: I think the whole thing is you’re not going to be able to access any kind of money or any kind of deal unless you do it on your own for a long time in the first place. I think that people just need to be careful, they need to understand what they’re doing. It’s like a business. When it becomes more than just a hobby, it becomes a business thing. It’s your liability and you want to make sure you know what’s going on. The internet is a really crazy tool… It’s really easy to make a record now. It’s cheap to make a record now, you can do it in your house, you can share it with people extremely easily. It just depends on what you want to do. Record labels can help out with a lot of stuff. You want physical copies, you want distribution, you want promotion; they’re there with the money to help you do that kind of stuff. It can be nice to have people that have your back and believe what you’re doing. It just really depends on where you’re coming from… If you enjoy the thing, then that should be enough. And then if things happen for the better, that’s great, but if not at least you’re still enjoying yourself.

MILD: What’s your relationship with hot chicken?

DeMarco: We were trying to stay in town so we could go get some the next morning, but the hotels were booked because there was a hockey game or something. I had it once before at Bolton’s… But my friend Stew plays in a band called Lionlimb, and we met him because he used to play with Angel Olsen. It was us, Stew, our other friend Jonathan and my lawyer Kent -- who also lives in Nashville -- We went to a waterfall one day, it was a nice nature day, and then to top it all off, Stew took us for some hot, hot chicken.

MILD: Is it overrated or underrated?

DeMarco: I think it’s dope. I don’t even know where to rate it, but it’s just spicy as fuck... It’s a different kind of spicy too… It’s really nuts, I really like it.

MILD: As a fan of Prince, did you think he was a good actor?

DeMarco: Um, I don’t know. It depends on how you look at it. I think that the movies he put out are incredible, I think they’re great. You got to look at it more on the scale of a musician acting... I would say that he’s a better actor than say Paul McCartney. A couple of my bandmates went to see the new Pirates of the Caribbean last night. The reviews are in, Paul is shithouse.

MILD: Paul’s in it?

DeMarco: Yeah. (Speaking to bandmate Jon Lent) For about 45 seconds Jon?

DeMarco: ‘Bout 45 seconds.

DeMarco: ( Speaking to bandmate Jon Lent) Give me your one word review.

DeMarco: Jon says, shit.

MILD: Has the Illuminati approached you or have you managed to slip under their radar?

DeMarco: Approached by the Illuminati (laughs). Nah, I never have. I was approached by a Shriner in Boise, Idaho… But they build children’s hospitals... I want to believe, but I think the reality is I don’t really know. Maybe there is some real spooky stuff going on. I have Freemasons in my family... Illuminati, afraid not. Not yet. I don’t know, that’d be cool.

MILD: If you had to smoke one last cigarette, who would you smoke it with?

DeMarco: Oh man. Steve McQueen.