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Mac ā€™nā€™ cheese

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Photo: Brad Elterman

Things can move pretty fast — faster than you want, sometimes.

Just 22, Canadian garage rocker Mac DeMarco recorded his 2012 debut EP, Rock and Roll Nightclub, as a personal, private experiment of Ramones-influenced power pop slowed to a creep, and brandished the cover with a lipstick-smearing selfie. An unexpected hit, it introduced him to the world.

“I never expected anyone to hear it, and I definitely didn’t think anyone would ever release it. It was a happy accident,” DeMarco said. “From that, people started to think that I did wear lipstick all the time and that I sing like Elvis. Now, they come to a show and realize I’m just a normal guy.”

Well, not totally normal. The gap-toothed jokester has injected a steady stream of levity and humor into not only his music, but his projection of it to listeners. His raunchy stage gags and permagrin — coupled with impeccably written songs — helped DeMarco go from sleeping in cars at last year’s SXSW to being one of the belles of the ball.

“I take music seriously, but I don’t take myself seriously,” he said.

When it came time to record his first full-length, 2, DeMarco wanted the music to do most of the talking, so he dug deep and presented his best, true self.

“I thought it was probably a good idea to make a record that was a little more about me ... a little more honest,” he said. “I tried to do me on this one.”

Compared to the glamorously strange ode to Lou Reed that was the EP, the album 2 — also released last year — favored a jangly, easygoing take on traditional pop.

“I was listening to a lot of Steely Dan and Shuggie Otis,” said DeMarco. “I wanted to make early ’70s-sounding pop. I’m not sure that it comes across like that, but that’s what I was aiming for.”

With 2’s lead singles finding favor with Pitchfork and the like, his star rose higher. DeMarco hopes to come out of 2013 with an EP and album just like 2012, a seemingly endless stream of opportunities keep getting in the way.

“All these touring plans are fucking up my output,” he said, laughing.

Although DeMarco estimates he has 20 demos prepped, spring beckons with a tour in support of famed French alt-rockers Phoenix, hitting up massive venues to play for thousands every night. It’ll be a foreign situation, but DeMarco doesn’t mind.

“I wasn’t sure what to think at first ... but if Phoenix thinks it’s a good idea, it can’t be that bad, right?” he said. “It’s probably going to be pretty weird, but I don’t mind weird.”


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