On the Road With Walter TV

Interview by Koen van Bommel
Photos shot by Andrew Volk in California, USA

A while ago, we had a conversation with Pierce McGarry, renowned maker of grainy VHS-style videos, bassist for Mac DeMarco and singer/guitarist for Walter TV. As it happens, photographer Andrew Volk was touring with them at the time, documenting their epic trip down the West Coast. The feature was supposed to go in the last issue of the magazine, but damn it, there wasn’t enough space. That brings us here: the internet. If anything, there’s too much space here. So without further ado, let’s hear from Pierce.


When did you first start getting paid for being a musician?

It was like, this year. We started getting paid to play festivals and stuff. It’s a weird feeling, it’s the first time I’ve like, had any money in my life. Not bad, right?

How did you work it out before this year?

I guess we used to get in debt when we went on tour before. Like, I would not have enough money to go home and I’d have to borrow money from my parents.

Can you give me an estimate of how much it costs to go on a tour?

I guess you have to weigh it on whether or not you wanna stay on someone’s floor or at a motel. And then you have to pay for gas, and food, but food is cheap. We usually try to go to this place called Chipotle. It’s pretty decent.

Do you owe any personality traits to being in a band and touring?

Well, you learn how to get out in front of a huge crowd. But other than that, I was always pretty easy going, so just hanging out in a van is no problem for me. You’ve got to have the right attitude though: if travelling is fun for you and you like making music, you already have the personality to be in a band.

Has anyone ever refused to pay you after playing a show?

Yeah, one time we played with this horrible band in Vancouver, and they accused us of doing all this bullshit. Something like, it had to do with their sister and someone we knew. Something weird happened, and then they said that we trashed the place, and that we were taking drugs in the bathroom, and none of it was true, and then those losers refused to give us our measly hundred dollars.

How do you respond to something like that?

Scornful looks and nasty emails.

No physical violence?

I guess you could break someone’s arm, but it was only a hundred dollars.

Do you have a job besides being a musician?

No, but I do music videos and some design work here and there. Other than that, I just make money doing music, really. I mean, we’re always on the road, so I’m basically at work all the time.

What do you eat when you’re broke?

Ehm, I don’t know. Cabbage soup or spaghetti. Or maybe some french fries with Joppie sauce.

Who would be the worst person to owe money to?

Donald Trump or something? I feel like he would never forget. He knows his money.

Would you like to perform in his tower?

Like, a private show? I don’t think I’d like that. Funny story though: we had to go to a friend’s wedding the other day, and it just so happened that we booked a hotel for the wedding party, and it was the same night that Donald Trump was doing his Presidential, whatever, speech, and there were all these D-list celebrities and protesters, crazy stuff, and we had to cruise up to the hotel, in our tour van, and I had like, swimming trunks on and they harassed us getting in, asking, like, what are you doing here? We didn’t get to see Donald though, but we did see a lot of his, ehm, fans. You know Mr Peterson from Seinfeld? Elaine’s boss. He was there chilling. The guy who played the Hulk was there.

But wait. You attended a wedding in swimming trunks?

Well, I had to get changed when I got there. We came from the beach. It was pretty intense.

If you’d ever win, like, a Grammy or something, who would you thank in your speech?

Donald Trump. Nah, I have no idea, I’d probably just go over there and wing it.

Well, you can wing it right now.

Okay. I’d like to thank Carlos Santana and Jimmy Buffett and Sting for all their influences on me.

Not bad. In what way has Sting influenced you?

With his tantric ways, his smooth singing, the beautiful lyrics that he writes, his acting skills. I guess his overall smoothness.

What’s his best song?

The one from the car commercial. I forget how it goes.

Who do you owe your musical taste to?

Carlos Santana.

Have you ever felt like you were being ripped off, artistically speaking?

Like, copycat bands? Ehm, maybe a little bit here and there. Maybe some people that rip off my video style. A few people are trying to bite that a little bit.

How does that make you feel?

I think it’s boring when someone does that. I wish they’d be more true to themselves. That’s how you get to something that’s creative. It’s better to have some variety than just people doing the same things.

When was the last time you stole something?

I stole a pen yesterday, I was writing a check or something. [Pierce yells to someone in another room] What was something we stole lately?

[The next two minutes someone makes weird, whooshing sci-fi noises before hanging up the phone.]

What was that?

Oh, just some weird noises. But I thought of something we stole, we had this gig and it was my friend’s birthday so I stole a big pot of plants and I brought it to their house.

Were they happy?

They were over the moon.