Makeout Skideotape

Vancouver Pop Tarts Move the Party to Montreal

Lock your doors! Makeout Videotape have invaded Montreal. Photo Robert Fougere

When I get to Mac DeMarco’s apartment to talk to him about his band, Makeout Videotape, I wake him up. It’s 11:00 a.m. on a Monday and he greets me in his underwear.

He’s obviously living the young dude-in-a-band lifestyle.

Fresh from a cross-country move from Edmonton, DeMarco is currently living in a loft space with his girlfriend and four other guys.

Signed to the Toronto indie label Unfamiliar Records (Japandroids, Brasstronaut), Makeout Videotape released their first full-length album last December.

DeMarco said that they have played with the idea of releasing new music again soon. “We [just independently] released Ying Yang on a cassette. We might release it with our label on vinyl,” he said. “But I’m already kind of sick of it; we were making it for like a year and a half. So yeah we’ll probably have something new in like a month,” DeMarco laughed, showing his gapped front teeth.

Makeout Videotape is comprised of front man DeMarco and Alex Calder. They have been playing together since they were both 15 and growing up in Edmonton. They have only recently come together as a band. Two years ago they released Heat Wave. Their fun-loving, garage-pop sound and their spontaneous performances have earned them a following in Montreal.

After living in Vancouver briefly, the duo moved back to Edmonton before deciding to move east. When I ask DeMarco what prompted the move, he’s hesitant. “Why did we move to Montreal? You know, I don’t know. A lot of people ask me that. It’s cheaper than Vancouver. I like coming here. It’s nice and close to Toronto, New York [and] Chicago,” he said.
­When I ask if he thinks Montreal will influence or change their sound, he’s a bit more sure. “I found [that] when we went to Vancouver, it didn’t influence [our music] at all. All the bands we were hanging out with were all like new punk, screaming and stuff. Not that there’s anything wrong with that because I
love that stuff, but we didn’t sound like that,” DeMarco said. “I think right off the bat here [in Montreal] we kind of sound a little bit more like other bands that are around. There’s a lot more poppy music. That’s in Vancouver too, but here they just seem to suck less.”

Their current sound is often classified as lo-fi, a genre that DeMarco agrees with. “People call us lo-fi music. And that’s good, because when I first started making music, I was in another band, and we were kind of trying to sound like Yo La Tengo, or Pavement or something—nice, clean, indie rock in Edmonton. We did these nice recordings and it took a super long time. And then I realized that all my friends were into these really crappy recorded bands. And I was like, man, I could write this really good song and record it really shitty. And I did. And people really started liking us, like really fast.

“Now I can kind of put out whatever I like. I’m just trying to be like Jonathan Richman or um… yeah, pretty much just Jonathan Richman.”

DeMarco writes all of the songs and often records them himself as well. “Sometimes Alex records with me. The songs that actually sound like they’re recorded by someone who knows how to record—it’s usually him. But yeah, usually it’s like more of a bedroom thing, especially back home in Edmonton. I mostly recorded in my mom’s basement.”

I ask him where he’s planning to record in Montreal and he points to a corner of the apartment that’s filled with miscellaneous musical instruments and speakers. “Um, probably in that corner right over there. We talked to the Arbutus guys about renting some space. I don’t know, we don’t really practice, we just kind of record.”

We should definitely expect to see a lot more from these guys in the future. For now, DeMarco is just focusing on making new music (they have a couple of shows coming up in April), and navigating the Montreal employment market. “Yeah if anyone knows where I can get a job, they should email me.”