MAC DeMARCO with ACTUAL WATER, CUT FLOWERS, UNFINISHED BUSINESS and DUTCH TOKO at the Silver Dollar (486 Spadina), Saturday (December 15), doors 9 pm. $10. RT, SS. See listing.
Mac DeMarco's just returned from his first European tour to a mountain of interview requests and email awaiting him at home in Montreal. (He lost his laptop in Hamburg.) He's not stressed, though, and the string of sold-out gigs with screaming fans proves that his debut album, 2 (Captured Tracks), succeeded on more than ephemeral internet buzz.
That's not an irrational concern, given that his initial rise to prominence was due to the somewhat jokey Rock And Roll Nightclub EP he released in the spring. The pitched-down vocals, between-song skits and fake glam-rock photos conjured a confusing, playful image.
"The whole thing was funny, but it got to a point where everyone expected me to play shows in lipstick and stilettos," DeMarco says with a chuckle.
On 2, he drops the gimmicks in favour of disarming earnestness, though it's still sometimes hard to figure out where he draws the line between prankster and serious artist. It doesn't help that he's developed a reputation for sticking things up his butt onstage.
"That's just a product of alcoholism. It hasn't happened for a while, though, mainly because everyone wants me to do it now."
So it's tricky deciding how to interpret a song like Cooking Up Something Good. Initially it seems like a lighthearted ode to family life, but then you realize it's about his dad's meth habit.
"Yeah, sketchy papa. I don't really know him, but when I see him he's nice enough. A lot of people have asked me about the song, and it's more or less true. I got really into writing about my family on this album, though it's not actually the story of my youth, because he wasn't really around."