click here for more
Interview: Mac DeMarco Talks Cowboy Culture & Returning To New Zealand

Interview: Mac DeMarco Talks Cowboy Culture & Returning To New Zealand

A.K. / Wednesday 2nd October, 2019 11:21AM

Canadian laid-back indie rocker Mac DeMarco’s Aotearoa show is creeping closer, with his one-night-only event at the Auckland Town Hall locked in for early January. DeMarco returns to Tāmaki Makaurau after last playing Laneway Festival 2018, this time with local favourite Fazerdaze on the bill and his latest album Here Comes The Cowboy in his holster. DeMarco recently took the time to have a chat with Christie Simpson of globe-spanning dream-pop outfit Yumi Zouma, talking all things cowboy-culture and self-care. Yumi Zouma are heading on tour themselves this month too - get to know the bands behind your summer gigs below…

UTR proudly presents...

Mac DeMarco
with very special guest Fazerdaze
Wednesday 8th January - Auckland Town Hall, Auckland (all ages)

General public tickets available via Ticketmaster

Christie Simpson: So you’re coming back to New Zealand, I’ve heard that’s the plan.

Mac DeMarco: Yeah, it’s gonna be dope.

It’s been a while since you were last in these parts. I think four years ago was it – the last time you were in New Zealand?

It doesn't feel that long but probably. Kinda crazy.

It goes fast huh? New Zealand, for us little people living down here, it’s always quite an exciting moment when someone heads our way, y'know we’re always doing the opposite. I feel like there are a lot of touring bands in New Zealand that head overseas, but it's not always the case that people come our way. Is there something that brings you back to New Zealand? Is there something that you love about coming back here?

I think New Zealand, before we ever went there, I had a couple of friends from there, good friends of mine and I'm always curious to go see what's up. I like it there, it reminds me a lot of where I'm from as well, its beautiful. We’ve done Laneway twice, maybe three times... It's a treat, I really like it.

You have a bit of a connection with some New Zealand musicians?

The people that I know that are from New Zealand I all know through Connan Mockasin because he grew up in Te Awanga. Yes, he and I know some of the fans down there and Connan’s crew.

It's been a long time since I’ve seen him play but I feel like he has a nice little group of friends and he’s doing a lot of cool stuff. When he bought Mick Fleetwood out at one show that he played at Auckland... I so wish I'd been at that show. You'll know my bandmate Josh [Burgess], who used to work for Captured Tracks when you were doing stuff there.

Oh yeah, Burgess. We always used to say [puts on strong kiwi accent] “tist priss” when you’d get the test for the vinyl back. “We’ve got ya tist priss!” Not trying to make fun of your accent but…

There’s actually no bad interpretation. I think Canadians and New Zealanders... we have a very similar approach to things. I feel like there's a bit of a connection there, kind of just in our body language.

I agree with that as well... similar but not the same. And the other country is sizeably larger. There’s something in the psyche about that. We’re the more mellow younger cousin or something, y'know what I mean? There's subtle differences, you gotta be from there to see them most clear but I hear what you’re saying.

I was going to ask about the new album Here Comes The Cowboy. It feels like there's this real thing with cowboy culture in the cultural zeitgeist lately. Do you feel like there’s a connection between your album and that bigger picture in pop culture?

Maybe, the funny thing is I was made very clear that there was a lot of cowboy stuff going on at the moment. I'm not very connected, I'm not on social media... Kirin J. Callinan from Australia was dressing up as one for a year and I heard that strange song. I use cowboy in my day to day lexicon too, like “hey cowboy, how you doing?”, things like that. But I meant it came from somewhere, so I guess it stemmed... even though I'm pretty tapped out.

This album, I feel like there’s been a lot said and I can sense that it feels like it comes from a bit of a different world to This Old Dog. That's like the classic question, I understand every album, it’s always different, there's always that evolution, you’re never in the same position as you were in. Does it feel that way to you? Does it feel like it's from a different world? Is there anything that stands out as being different with this album?

For me I wanted to make something that felt like maybe in between worlds, kind of in limbo. Very, not mundane but simple and slow and quiet... I didn't want to make it very exciting. I wanted to make it jarring, confusing, dry. Its the kind of thing that if you want it then there it is, but if not then don't even bother because you're not gonna fuck with it anyway. Connan’s record Jassbusters really inspired me a lot when I was doing this record. A lot of people with that record were like “what the hell? There’s no lyrics?” but I heard it initially and was like “oh my god, this is incredible.” I loved that record so much, its probably my favourite record that he’s ever done. If you can ride with it then it's just the best, point to point. 

It’s funny when people are surprised when something like that happens, someone they know and love who writes more in a pop realm and then tones it back at some point. I think people go “but what? What ‘s he doing?” I think if you go back and look at what Connan was doing before he was Connan Mockasin in his real early days, when I knew him from New Zealand festivals when I was super young, that was where he started out and he’s just going full circle in one way or another. Nobody else is really doing that to that extent at the moment, its kind of nice to have something different. That brings me to what I was going to ask next. Is there anything that you’ve been listening to lately that’s struck you in a significant way? Is there something that you’ve been listening to that feel resonant with you at the moment?

Like new music or old music? Or doesn't matter?

Either, yeah. Both, neither.

Recently I’ve been stuck on, I love Frank Sinatra and I've always known Frank Sinatra, but I’ve never really paid that much attention, I never dived into it. But my god, I'm in love. I love it. I love storytelling, I love the personality, I love the voice, it's just like, I love it. That and a lot of bossanova, I’ve always loved bossanova, I think because Frank did a lot of work with those guys. I'm looking at that, that doesn't exist anymore. We’ve got Michael Bublé, but that's not what I'm talking about. That weird, that style of celebrity that those people were. The funny "TV classy" thing, like old Hollywood that's so intriguing to me. I'm really loving it.

Where in Canada are you from? What part?

I'm from a city called Edmonton, Alberta, which is north of the Montana border, it’s kind of in the middle. When I tell people, no one really knows where it is. It's not a small place, there's like a million people that live there, but it's a million people that no one has ever heard of.

That’s the thing, it's such a difference in scale. New Zealanders don't really have a grasp on that because our biggest city has a million people, but our whole country is four million. The scale of it is so different. I feel like there’s definitely a vibe here in New Zealand in the kind of music that people enjoy, I feel like there's definitely a connection to the kind of music that you make. The general psyche of New Zealanders, I feel there’s something that fits so I can imagine you have a lot of fans here. I’ve been to see you play here before and it seems to be the case. You have been touring now for a long time. Are you on tour at the moment? Are you between tours?

Right now, I've had most of August off but before that we were out and then next week it flows again. We’ve got two shows in LA but I can still sleep in my office and then we go to the East Coast, that’s when the ball starts rolling. A little bit of down time but it never lasts forever.

You must have ways of coping with tour life. Do you have anything that you go to? How do you manage it? How do you get around it?

I don't know. When I go out I'm there, it's kind of a balance. If I'm out for too long and I get burnt then I just wanna come home, but if Im home for too long then I wanna get out there too. It's similar where if I'm home for too little, then I just hide the whole time at the house. I'll come home, hide for a week and a half and then see my friends and shit.

You have to preserve your own sanity right?

Yeah and also, I'm not a very healthy person. I drink and smoke. With coming home, I try to make it this straight up regeneration, like “okay, now I'm going to hide and not do anything” because that's when you know you're in a bit of trouble.

Do you work best... it seems like you do everything yourself, like a one man band, which to me is insane because I can only get things done when I have Charlie and Josh egging me along. Is that by choice?

I’ve done it this way for so long that I think that... I can play most instruments enough to get what I'm trying to say across. It's funny, when I've had people come in, y'know shredders, and people that are really good... I'm usually in control in writing all the parts and stuff, and I can't get them to do it so perfectly crappy as I know that I could do it. I guess I'm not really good at playing with others but I'm learning. It takes a lot to find somebody that you're really comfortable with their taste and musical ideas and stuff, that I'm fully right there with. It just depends, maybe it'll change, maybe it'll stay the same.

Only the future will tell. Thanks so much for taking the time, I really appreciate it.

'Here Comes The Cowboy' is out now on Mac’s Record Label.


Share this
Subscribe/Follow Us
Don’t miss a thing! Follow us on your favourite platform  

You can show your support to keep UnderTheRadar running by making a contribution. Any small amount can make a huge difference and keep us bringing you the best, comprehensive local content. Support UTR

Mac Demarco With Fazerdaze
Wed 8th Jan
Auckland Town Hall, Auckland