I had the chance to have a chat with Andrew McMahon about his new album and his upcoming Australian Tour. It was very early in the morning and I had only had one coffee so it was lucky that I made any sense at all.
He needs no introduction fronting the seminal rock band SOMETHING CORPORATE and JACK’S MANNIQUIN, his introspective lyrics and dazzling voice has amassed a reverent and dedicated fan base across the world. The journey wasn’t an easy one, despite the outward signs of success, beating cancer, selling out shows the world over, getting married, an Emmy nomination – McMahon says the road to recovery was a “rollercoaster ride that took the better part of a decade, I had to learn to acclimate to the world post illness” which resulted in a break from all musical endeavours.
For the first time in Australia with his full band ANDREW MCMAHON IN THE WILDERNESS will be performing tracks from his dazzling solo material along with classic hits from SOMETHING CORPORATE and JACK’S MANNEQUIN.
Andrew has two more shows in the US before he heads to Australia. He has sold out one show in Sydney, and I am pretty sure that the rest will follow. When asked if he was keen for the tour he said that he is ecstatic. He was pleased about the sold out show especially after it has been so long since he has been here. He is looking forward to the tour as the last time he was here was for Soundwave with his band Jack Mannequin in 2011 or 12 he was not sure. When asked if he has a favorite city he was very diplomatic and said all of them. Well answered! He did like the Brisbane weather as we all do! I checked out his touring schedule for the rest of the year and I really liked how he had a the map on his website showing where he is going. Clearly he loves to tour as he is booked solid though to late November. When asked if he was having a break in dec to spend with your family or has a tour not been announced yet he answered with a definite “Of course not! We will be picking up Festivals and radio shows until Christmas!” Andrew explained that he took a pretty long break leading up to this record and that he discussed it with his wife that when it was released there would be loads of tours. I agreed with him when he said that you can’t promote a record in half way, you have to go all in. it was good to hear that the most part he travels with his wife and daughter however they would not be making the long plane trip down here which is understandable! He did try and convince her but the 15 hour flight she was not so keen on.
Andrew wrote this album by going to a Cabin and locking himself away from the world, writing a few new songs and then going back home to see his wife. I thought that I would like that kinda job, so I asked him how do I sign up? Luckily he got my sense of humour. But seriously when asked does getting away really assist him in focussing on his writing as life put to much pressure on you not to be able to concentrate he said for sure. He explained that a lot of the motivation behind that was that his wife was pregnant and he had to work out how do I write this album, with the process of the pregnancy and be present for both important events. He did say one was more important than the other and I do hope he meant the birth of his daughter! He said that spending 3 to 4 days a week writing without the distractions of cell phones then return home so he could spend that time with his wife and he could focussed on the pregnancy and decorating the nursery, then head back to the cabin to continue to write. This routine definitely worked as the end result was a brilliantly written album. I thought it was admirable of Andrew to introduce his daughter to the world by using real life experiences of his own, including some adventures or mistakes of his youth. I had to ask what he was planning to do when his daughter was old enough to understand the meaning of the song and did he think that there was anything in the song that he might regret writing in the song. Andrew replied by saying that is a good question. He took a few seconds to think about that and said that when she was old enough to understand what locking yourself in a hotel room and waiting for the walls to move actually means he might. He did say that in the context of the song he wanted to write her a song that displayed that life has these incredible highs and incredible lows and you just have to keep moving through it. That aspect of the song he is proud of and hopefully she will take that meaning away minus all the drug references. (Laughing) He said that he will cross that bridge when he comes to it.
I asked Andrew, “You and I have something in common, we are both recovering and hopefully recovered fully from a severe illness, how did your illness and treatment change you as a writer?” I have written about my personal experience in a form of a blog not songs and it was healing for me. Andrew firstly congratulated me on getting through my illness and for him it was a combination of therapeutic and totally confusing as there were days if not years that he really struggled with writers block and the type of music that he was trying to write was not the easiest to write while recovering from cancer. He did have a point! Andrew did say that he found a lot of solace in prose and journals that were intended for himself. He said there were a few songs along the way that even out of his frustration helped him, quite a few songs on the second Jack’s record, songs like Crash was definitely born of that. Think I will get that album and take a listen and it might help me with my illness.
Andrew started the Dear Jack Foundation, an organization dedicated to helping young adults with cancer. Very admirable of him. Take a look at the website here to see what he does, this is the last entry
‘A few days later and we are still so energized from the Dear Jack Foundation (DJF) and Love Hope Strength (LHS) benefit that took place Friday, July 24th. It was an inspiring and intimate afternoon of music at the LHS headquarters located in Denver, CO. Prior to performing, DJF founder, Andrew McMahon, took time to meet with cancer survivors, fans and supporters. Thank you to the over 80 people who attended and for helping to ensure we continue to find matches for those in need of lifesaving bone marrow transplants. To date our partnership with LHS has added close to 1,400 people to the National Bone Marrow Registry, resulting in 23 potential life-saving matches!’ I told Andrew which song off his new album that I connected to most was All of Lives especially the lines:
“I thought, “If I could tell her something, I would tell her this: There’s only two mistakes that I have made It’s running from the people who could love me best And trying to fix a world that I can’t change.”
When asked if there was a song that he connected to the most he said it was difficult to say but the verse I mentioned and the other chorus from that song he felt were very powerful words for him. Something that we sure agreed on. He also mentioned that the last song on the record ‘Maps for the Getaway’ has a deep connection for him as it really the story of him getting out of Los Angeles with his wife and doing something that pays the bills for a while and getting them to a good place. He said that even years after his body recovered his head took longer to catch up. He had not done any of the hard work addressing the depression, the post traumatic stress or anything related to that diagnosis and that song to him represents surviving that next level of trauma. He made the choice to address that and for that reason that song especially at a gig and he plays it on the piano he gets close to tears.
I thanked Andrew for his time and for making me get up so early. He said that it was a pleasure. Not sure if he meant the chat or making me get up early!
I encourage you to take the time to listen to Andrews album and go out and buy a ticket to see his show. It is going to be epic, I certainly look forward to it.
FRIDAY AUGUST 21st –MAX WATT’S (THE HI FI) , BRISBANE 18+
SATURDAY AUGUST 22nd – THE FACTORY THEATRE, SYDNEY 18+
SUNDAY AUGUST 23rd–170 RUSSELL, MELBOURNE – 18+
TUESDAY AUGUST 25th–FOWLERS LIVE, ADELAIDE – LIC/AA
WEDNESDAY AUGSUT 26th –AMPLIFIER BAR, PERTH 18+
Tickets available at www.oztix.com.au
PRESENTED BY TAPERJEAN TOURING, SELECT TOURING, METROPOLIS TOURING