Originally published in Issue #27
Interview by Drew Elizabeth Wille
Photo by Matt Ginzel
Andrew McMahon and the Jack’s Mannequin crew are back again with their upcoming album, People and Things, scheduled to be released on October 4th. The title of the album may seem quite simplistic for a band with so much depth, but McMahon reassured fans that this album is very much about deepening relationships. With topics ranging from the new album, the Dear Jack Foundation and Something Corporate, McMahon talks about it all.
Substream Music Press: What inspired the title of your new album? Why People and Things?
Andrew McMahon: For me, this record is everything in this moment in my life. It’s about transitioning from one moment, when you have less responsibility, to suddenly everybody’s moving in with girlfriends or getting married, and kind of stepping onto that stage where things get serious. I thought, people and things, what a great way to say it, its stark and beautiful at the same time.
SMP: You’ve said this upcoming album is focused on the subject of deeper relationships. What relationships in your life have deepened since your last album?
AM: If you know the history of the band, there’s a lot of drama around ’05, even leading into Passenger. The way I’ve been looking at it, I feel like it’s a discussion about things I wasn’t paying much attention to when I was making Passenger and while I was recovering from being sick. This was my chance to deal with loose ends created out of that scenario.
SMP: What’s your single “My Racing Thoughts” all about?
AM: It’s about those blowout fights where you’re forced to be accountable. Again, speaking to the idea of the record being about deep relationships, you can’t hide behind anything. a handful of songs on the record are about the anatomy of a fight and what it looks like when you’re not going to run away. You might have a moment to escape but you’re going to come back and deal with it.
SMP: Besides, “My Racing Thoughts”, what track are you excited about releasing?
AM: There’s a song called “Television” I think’s different from what Jack’s has done. I’m excited to see how people respond. There’s a song called “Amy, I” that we do live that I know people at the label are excited for fans to hear.
SMP: Something Corporate got together last year for a reunion tour. Can we expect to see the band on tour again, or is this something you’ve put past you?
AM: I like to do what inspires me at the time. If I woke up one day like, wow, this would be great, maybe I’d try to get it together. But there’s the outside factor that we’re four people with four different lives. It’s not like everybody’s sitting, waiting to do Something Corporate.
SMP: How have the Something Corporate guys influenced your sound and your new Jack’s Mannequin album?
AM: I found myself after the Something Corporate tour thinking of ways I’ve made Jack’s records. I’d go in, play piano, sing, then we’d build the track around that. The way we worked up many records was in a rehearsal space just sweating it out, learning songs together, as a band, and then taking those arrangements into the studio to record. So, coming off that tour there was a moment where I had been working on the first version of this record and it was done in a very dissimilar fashion. I found myself saying, maybe it’d be cool to just get my band, put us in a room, learn songs I’ve written and recorded and maybe re-record them with that as the angle, and that’s what we did.
SMP: Matt Theissen helped write some songs on this album. Who else contributed and what can we expect from them?
AM: “Restless Dream” is this stark guitar ballad I had the pleasure of singing with Brandy Carlyle, a country star with a beautiful voice. When we were looking for a harmony in the chorus, I reached out to management. They also worked with Brandy. We had Chris Chaney from Jane’s Addiction play bass. Something you’ll hear on some B-sides is Steve Ferrone, drummer for Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, on “Ten Days Gone” that’s coming out on some bonus tracks with iTunes and exclusive pre-orders. There were a couple studio cats that sat in time-to-time, Tim Pierce and Jamie Muhoberac who played keyboard. It’s definitely collaborative.
SMP: The Dear Jack Foundation is your way of raising awareness and support for cancer. Can you tell fans what you do with this foundation?
AM: It started as a reaction to my experience with leukemia. Over the years I’ve been made aware of this gap in research for people ages 18 to 39. In 30 years, there’s been no improvement in survival rates for this demographic. These are people who listen to my music. There aren’t many people talking about this gap in survival rates for young people. I thought that I’d use my platform being that this is something that affects people I talk to everyday. We’re hoping this year our efforts with Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, if we raise over $100,000 this year, we’ll have raised half a million dollars over the last 5 years working with them.
SMP: Lastly, what can fans expect from this new album and what do you hope they get out of it?
AM: I just want them to listen to it and like it. The hope is that there’ll be something tangible, something that makes them say, after listening to it for the first time, “maybe this is a song I want to listen to a second time or a third.” Hopefully it’s diverse enough that even if you favor this part of the Jack’s Mannequin catalogue, or like the Something Corporate stuff, there’s something for everyone.