I've seen Mac Demarco roughly once a year for the past four years, and each time the audience fills with more college bros, businessmen, and the kind of immaculate blonde women you only see in Manhattan, Los Angeles, and remote farm towns in Sweden. The new audiences are going nuts for Demarco's hip Goofy Dude persona, which sometimes threatens to overshadow his music. But during those shows, as Mac Demarco tongue-kissed his bassist and covered Limp Bizkit songs, there was always an unassuming guy with a guitar in the corner of the stage named Peter Sagar holding the whole bizarre operation together.
Sagar recently bowed out from touring to devote his free time to quietly churning out thoughtful, funky albums in Montreal under the name Homeshake. His first album, 2013's Homeshake Tape, is weird as hell and peppered with 90s weed rock instrumentation, funky bass, and samples from Dragon Ball Z. It sounds like what would happen if Stephen Malkmus put on a wig and joined ESG. Sagar's new record, In the Shower, includes all of this (minus the Dragon Ball Z samples), but with more coherent song structures. It also shows a step up in recording quality (the first one sounded like it was tracked on a Talkboy).
I hung out with Sagar at his CMJ show a while back and we talked about his new record, the Montreal scene, and how hermits make better music.
VICE: I feel like your songwriting and recording chops have evolved pretty significantly on this record. Is that the result of touring around with Mac?
Homeshake: I was on the road a lot as I was writing this record. Around the same time, I also decided I really liked R&B. I made a conscious effort to have the new songs recorded better. I recorded The Homeshake Tape on Mac's eight-track machine—I just went over to his house in Montreal and recorded it—and we did this new one on a big fancy tape machine at my jam space in Montreal.
You live in Montreal with your girlfriend, right?
Yeah, Salina does all my album artwork except for the shitty internet fliers that I do with MS Paint. For the new album I was like, "Draw something sexy in a shower," and she nailed it. A nice, hot, sexy, natural woman in a tub. Doesn't get sexier than that.
It's cool you guys collaborate. Is there a lot of overlap between the art and music scenes in Montreal?
We're all just friends, so sometimes it overlaps. I'll do an acoustic show at one of Salina's art shows or something.
There are a lot of great bands coming out of Montreal right now. There's you, Mac Demarco, Alex Calder, and Walter TV which used to feature Mac on drums and you on bass. Seems like there's a lot of overlap.
Definitely. My bass player has multiple musical projects, one of which is this band called Each Other. They're amazing. My drummer Greg plays with Sheer Agony and Jackson MacIntosh, who I'm recording my next album with at the Drones Club. That's our underground recording studio and jam space. We have little events there occasionally. There are a ton of bands on Fixture Records, who put out TheHomeshake Tape, like Brave Radar and Freelove Fenner. There is so much good stuff.
Are you working on other stuff now?
Yeah, I have a new record completely written already. We're going to record it in November and release it in the spring.
Pretty quick turnaround.
When you stop touring everyday, you realize how easy it is to just write a fucking record and hang out. I'd rather record a lot of material and release it than tour all the time. That's the approach I'm going to stick with. I prefer the recorded aspect of music to the live stuff. It gives me more joy.
It feels good to make a thing.
I'm gonna make another thing in November and then, who knows, maybe by the time it comes out I'll have another thing ready to go. Or I'll relax a bit. It's so easy to get lazy in Montreal because it's inexpensive. So I know a lot of people who just do nothing, because it's a very social place. But I'm a big hermit. I stay in and make stuff and don't go out unless I feel guilty for never going out.
Do you think that the Montreal scene thrives because the city's so cheap?Definitely. I wouldn't be able to live that way in New York City or anywhere in Canada. It's hard to find employment in Montreal, but I'm not looking for a job, anyway.
This whole Mac Demarco thing has gotten pretty wild.
Yeah, it's insane. A lot of college kids are kneeling down before him.
How was it touring in his band as he started getting really successful?
Everyone has their childhood rockstar dreams, but that was a world I never anticipated being a part of. It actually made me more excited to get home and work on my music and do my own thing. The world of Mac Demarco is very strange, but I'm definitely very fortunate to have been a part of it for as long as I was. I'm just happy to see a friend with such fantastic artistic output being recognized for what he's doing. It's tight. One of the good guys is winning.
Definitely. I'm glad for Mac's success because it gives people a way to find out about these other Montreal bands. Seems like you guys have a good crew.
For sure. I like how we all approach music differently but also similarly. I love working with all those guys.
Lots of people say that the Montreal music scene reminds them of 90s slacker rock. What are your favorite things from the 90s?
I've always been really fond of the 90s. I love the way the pants fit. I love the way the R&B music sounded. R&B from the 90s is the best shit on Earth. When I was a teenager I was obsessed with Pavement, that got me into the whole idea of being a lazy-ass musician. My favorite 90s things are pants, R&B, and Pavement.
Check out Homeshake on BandCamp