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Mac DeMarco doesn't like guitar pedals: "They’re cheap pieces of shit with crappy electronics"

05 September 2023, 17:10 | Written by Tyler Damara Kelly

Featuring on the latest cover of Music Tech magazine, Mac DeMarco reveals how he recorded his new instrumental album, and expresses his disliking of guitar pedals.

With a focus on his latest instrumental album Five Easy Hot Dogs, which was written on a cross-country road trip that took him from LA to a cabin in Utah. All the tracks were recorded and mixed in the city featured in the song titles, and the tracklist reflects the order in which the songs were produced.

He explains, "The plan was to start driving north, and not go home to Los Angeles until I was done with a record. Kind of like being on tour, except there weren’t any shows, and I’d just be burning money. Some places I stayed longer in than others, some of them I knew from the past, others not so much. I tried to keep things busy all the time. If I didn’t know what was up in a city, I’d just walk around ‘til someone recognised me and go from there. I met a lot of interesting people this way, and had a bunch of cool experiences."

"I had my guitars with me, a bass, a weird little drum kit with a kick drum we sawed in half in Golden Gate Park, all the stands and cabling I’d need, a couple of mics, an old model D, and a TX7," DeMarco adds. "I wound up picking a bunch of stuff as I went as well, trying to keep it as travel friendly as possible though."

Speaking to Music Tech, he adds that moving towards a simpler set-up for creating art comes from the fact that he's been doing everything on his own terms, over the years: “We didn’t have any money. The idea of going to a real studio or something was never that appealing. It just wasn’t really an option. But it’s come to a point, I think where you get a certain outcome doing everything on your own; I get a certain satisfaction doing everything on my own."

Whilst the article notes that DeMarco's gear was worth over $20,000 – a Lynx Aurora interface, eight API 312 preamps, an old Neumann U47, two guitars, a Fender Precision bass, a Minimoog, a tabletop Yamaha TX7, and more – DeMarco has realised that he doesn't crave having a fancy set-up when it comes to making music.

"I don’t really buy gear any more," he says. "I’ve got pretty much every super famous old preamp now, a couple consoles, every really old fancy mic you could ever want – I have a lot of nice shit; nice tape machines and synthesisers, nice guitars, you know. But I think that less is more for me at this point... I like getting the sound at the microphone," he continues. "Instead of buying more gear, I’d rather just move the mic around or record in a different room. That’s what is more interesting to me now."

DeMarco notes that he's specifically working on restricting his use of guitar pedals, and reveals that his current set-up merely consists of a tuner, vibrato, and impulse-response effect for his acoustic guitar.

"They’re stupid. They’re cheap pieces of shit with crappy electronics. It’s just crap in the path. I don’t like crap. I don’t care if it makes you sound like Jimi Hendrix or whatever, I don’t want it," he says. "It just stresses me out thinking about it. And the cables that people use in between them... And then the power – crappy. Everything’s crappy, and I don’t want them crapping up my shit. No crap."

Five Easy Hot Dogs is out now.

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