Mac DeMarco announced his fourth studio, Here Comes the Cowboy, album last month. While news of a forthcoming LP made headlines, it was the record’s title that perhaps stirred up the most noise, due to its striking similarity to Be the Cowboy, the widely acclaimed 2018 album from Mitski. What’s more, DeMarco’s Cowboy, like Mitski’s, featured a lead single called “Nobody”.
A representative at the time claimed that DeMarco had never listened to Mitski’s Cowboy. For her part, Mitski took everything in stride; she not only chalked it all up to harmless coincidence, but also encouraged her fans to laugh it off with her.
Now, DeMarco has finally addressed the Cowboy controversy in a new interview with Huck. The indie rocker echoed his representative’s previous statement, insisting that he wasn’t trying to “troll” Mitski and described the backlash he’s received as “ridiculous.”
Speaking to Huck, DeMarco said that the online furor took him completely by surprise, especially since he supposedly knew nothing about Mitski up until just days before the album announcement. “I don’t show anybody my record ’til I hand it in,” he explained. “By that time, I just said: ‘This is the title; this will be the first single.'”
Even if he could go back in time, DeMarco added that he still wouldn’t have changed the title to save himself the drama,
“Even if I had known, I don’t think I would’ve changed it. I didn’t think people were gonna run with it that far. It’s ridiculous. It’s just music. Mitski’s song and my song sound eons different. Most of the people talking about it didn’t even listen to my song. With music today, [it seems] a lot of it isn’t about music.”
DeMarco said he and Mitski actually ended up texting later that day after the initial wave of pushback, and that they both were sincerely shocked by the coincidence. “She had the same outlook. I was like, ‘It’s so crazy that it’s a similar title.'”
The response to his Here Comes the Cowboy felt particularly intense and negative, like “people wanna dig the knife into me,” according to This Old Dog songwriter. DeMarco said it seemed as though people were trying to unnecessarily find a “narrative” for his new album and this Mitski controversy was it.
“It’s funny – there isn’t really a narrative with my new record. There’s no card to play. They found one, you know?” the Canadian jizz jazzer explained, before going on to defend himself again. “I’m not trying to troll Mitski. I didn’t know who Mitski was! I’m bad at keeping up with music. I only listen to The Beatles and video-game music from when I was a kid. Sorry.”
The upside to all the spectacle? DeMarco has finally listened to Mitski’s Cowboy and is even considering covering some of it in the future,
“I heard a lot of it yesterday. It’s really cool and I think we might even cover one of the songs because it would be fun and we could try to make sense of the situation. She seems really cool. Maybe I get to have a new friend or someone I can see at a festival and go, “Wassup?!”
Elsewhere in the interview, DeMarco talked about the concept of his Cowboy record (“Reflecting on life, growing up. It’s always growing up with me.”) and his relationship with his long-term girlfriend, among other things. Read it in full over on Huck.
Revisit his “Nobody” single below.
Mitski’s Be the Cowboy is out now, and it’s one of our favorite records in recent memory.