Mac DeMarco isn't the stoner and slacker you think he is - Reverb

Mac DeMarco isn’t the stoner and slacker you think he is

Mac DeMarco performs at Colorado's Gothic Theatre on July 14 with Denver's Homebody. Photo courtesy of Captured Tracks.

Mac DeMarco performs at Colorado’s Gothic Theatre on July 14 with Denver’s Homebody. Photo courtesy of Captured Tracks.

Mac DeMarco has an ear for jazz. When decompressing from tour he sits around and smokes cigarettes or goes to his favorite laundromat/pinball arcade to play the Addams Family machine. He doesn’t smoke weed.

It’s hardly the character that fans of the emerging Canadian singer-songwriter would be familiar with. He’s made a name for himself with smirking guitar lines, sarcastic tunings, and live shows that could end with DeMarco hanging from scaffolding or fans tearing down the venue. He’s known as a slacker, a stoner.

The truth is, according to the artist himself, at least, that a lot of Mac DeMarco fans have a lot of misconceptions about Mac DeMarco. And the biggest joke from music’s new favorite prankster is that he’s perfectly fine with it.

“I get in a situation every night where I get 50 kids that are like, ‘yo Mac come roast this joint with us in the alley’ and I just have to be like, ‘I’m sorry I don’t really smoke weed,’ ” DeMarco said. “The funny thing is for some reason the way that I’ve presented myself people assume that I’m the weed man.”

The biggest misconception of them all, he said, is that Pitchfork, Village Voice, Spin, The Guardian, etc. have him classified as a slacker.

“I guess I kind of understand the sentiment behind that, but we tour 90 percent of the year. We haven’t been slacking off too much,” DeMarco said. “It must be the length of my hair, the dirtiness of my hair, how my guitars sound.”

But these misconceptions — as true or false as they may be — are working in his favor. When DeMarco plays in Colorado for the first time on July 14, he’ll take the stage at the Gothic Theatre instead of the originally scheduled Bluebird Theater. The show — with Calvin Love and Denver’s Homebody — was moved to the larger venue because of demand.

If it’s possible to get to the bottom of who DeMarco is, the answer can surely be found on “Salad Days,” his acclaimed new album, which was released earlier this year.

Swimming in brightness and filled with casual bits of advice such as “treat her better boy” and “leave it all behind you,” DeMarco is content and mature as both a musician and lyricist.

Listening to the album, one wouldn’t really expect DeMarco to have a class clown stage persona that turns his live shows into scenes like he saw in Brighton, U.K., this year.

“The kids like ripped the stage apart and they were jumping off the speakers and it was complete chaos, and the venue was like, ‘what is going on?” DeMarco said. “It was a nice theater and they listened to my music and thought this was going to be a pretty mellow show.”

There’s a disconnect here between what audiences perceive as DeMarco — his on-stage antics sometimes end in the musician taking off his clothes — and the music he records.

On tour last year, DeMarco and his band would close his set by combining the original tune “She’s Really All I Need” with Dave Brubeck’s “Take Five.” The idea to cover the jazz classic came about when DeMarco and his band were traveling through France and heard the news of the legendary pianist and composer dying.

DeMarco would call himself a jazz appreciator, not an expert, but nonetheless, the idea of him having an appreciation for the genre would likely confuse his fans, he said.

“We’ve got a lot of young fans and most of the stuff we reference I feel like these kids are so enthralled by it because they have no idea what we’re referencing,” DeMarco said.

These days, he covers Neil Young and Coldplay — the former because DeMarco is a huge fan, and the latter because, “it really shows people’s true colors.”

“Everybody loves Coldplay, you can’t hide in that situation,” he said.

Covering Coldplay and Brubeck, making fart jokes, chain smoking and drunkenly disrobing all whilst playing smooth and warm rock, you can call it artistic misconception. And while his music grows more mature, he says he doesn’t want people to take him seriously just yet.

“If I can keep this balance between a sincere songwriter and writing these songs that are important to me,” DeMarco said. “That creates a certain vibe around the recorded music. Then, confusing people by being this strange performer, it keeps people interested for a little bit longer.”

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