I remember first being introduced to the term ‘dirtbag’ by my older brother.
The term had long detached itself from its Merriam-Webster routes as “unpleasant and unkept,” and had become a sort lifestyle that could be found in the pages of Thrasher Magazine or your local skate park.
Rebellious, disconnected and care-free might be fitting descriptions for a true ‘dirtbag’; one who throws themselves into a situation with little knowledge or care for the consequence.
Mac Demarco shows up to interviews with big name magazines wearing ripped vans, unwashed jeans, and a five-panel hat. He usually tucks a Viceroy cigarette tightly behind his right ear. The Canadian guitar player is the gold-standard of ‘dirtbags’.
One interviewer asks what Demarco’s “rider” (what an artist requests his playing venue to have ready on a table when they arrive) looks like. “A bottle of Jameson, a flat of beer, and a map showing all the nearest pinball machines in the area,” he answers.
His showtime antics have become legendary. He’s been arrested on stage after stripping all his clothes for the final song of the night, and he’s climbed to the top of light towers to belly-flop into the crowd, wearing nothing but an orange life-vest, “to stay afloat.” At the end of his last EP, he gave out the address to his new apartment in L.A., promising to make coffee for anyone that showed up at his door.
What’s great about Demarco, is he’s genuine. I read through countless interviews where journalists try and get some explanation for his reckless lifestyle; they fiend for details over his cigarette addiction and his reasoning for never washing his pants. He fends of these attempts with clever coolness, all these quirky habits are just part of who he is.
“What’s your favorite part about living and making music in America?” someone asks him, seeking a blast of patriotism.
With little hesitation, he gives his gap-tooth smile and responds:
“Beer is cheap, god bless.”