Mac DeMarco: Hungover with the Prince of Indie Pop

Article by Mish Barber-Way

Indie rock's favorite entertainer, Mac DeMarco, invites us into his Los Angeles home for an intimate look at his tchotchkes and backyard studio.

Mac DeMarco is hungover this sunny August afternoon. But it is the first time in a long, long time. When he invited Penthouse into his home, the critically acclaimed indie-pop star had just wrapped up a summer tour with four sold-out shows in Los Angeles.

“There is a special kind of pressure with the hometown show with all the friends there,” DeMarco sheepishly admits while he brushes his teeth. “Even though it wasn’t a big venue, I got nervous. The first show kind of went sideways. I vomited onstage, I pissed my pants, and I burned some cigarettes on my chest and my tongue. I’ve never done that before.”

To anyone who has followed DeMarco’s career from the beginning, this kind of show is par for the course. Back in the day, when he was infamous but not yet famous, he was known for summoning the spirit of one-man freak show G. G. Allin, once even allegedly swinging from the ceiling with a drumstick up his ass.

Now, domesticity has struck the 28-year-old musician, who just bought a house in L.A., a total fixer-upper that was inhabited by an eccentric gay couple who left an epic collection of porn in the dilapidated basement. Contractors got to work on the house right away, transforming the mess into the adorable white and blue bungalow we’re sitting in today. “We painted it like a Greek restaurant,” he says as he shows us around. “Too bad I’m not a Greek guy.”

After almost a decade of top-selling albums, wild, sweaty shows, and headlining huge festivals such as the Pitchfork Music Festival, Coachella, Fuji Rock in Japan, and performing on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert, ABC’s Charlie Rose, and at Radio City Music Hall, he’s taking a quick breather, settling into life with his girlfriend and their new home. Even more recently, DeMarco departed from his long-time label, Captured Tracks, to start his own enterprise, Mac’s Record Label. His first release Here Comes The Cowboy drops today.

Though he seems like an eccentric goofball in person, DeMarco’s music is a radical combination of Morrissey’s emotive melodies with the quirky comedy of Jonathan Richman and a pinch of yacht rock. On his earlier albums, he wrote catchy romantic songs about the things he loves, like his long-term girlfriend, blue jeans, and Viceroy cigarettes. But in recent years, he’s explored deeper emotional territory, even penning an entire album about growing up poor in rural Canada with his (now estranged) drug-addled father and struggling single mother. His fans are obsessive and look to the hoser like he’s a god. And he kind of is. After all, no one plays guitar like DeMarco. He championed a new genre of indie rock for millennials.