Monday, March 25, 2013

Interview With Andrew McMahon (3/25/13)

Jack's Mannequin may be over, but Andrew McMahon isn't even close to finishing his musical career. He's now working under his own name, allowing him to play songs from the Jack's Mannequin as well as Something Corporate eras of his career, mixed with new material soon to be released. Andrew took time out of his extremely busy tour schedule to answer some questions from us regarding the differences between Jack's and the solo material, moving between Something Corporate and Jack's material in live sets, the release of the new EP, his relationship with fun., the Jack's Mannequin live DVD, vinyl, and much more that you can read below.

You recently retired the Jack’s Mannequin moniker and are now playing under your own name. How’s it feel to be done with that chapter of your life and on to a new one?

It feels great. Just like anything, moving on has its plusses and its minuses. But it was about time, and it feels good to finally be moving on to new ground.

What are the differences between writing songs for Jack’s and writing songs for the solo project?

In some sense it’s incredibly different because I was writing the music for the purpose of putting it out. It’s a similar process. On this record I ventured into new territory. I was working with a producer/writer on a lot of this stuff, and so I was writing a lot of this music in the studio which I would say is pretty different from the way I approached some of the Jack’s records.

How would you say the progression is from People and Things to the new EP?

I would argue that it’s more of a modern record. In a sense People and Things was meant to be a firmer reflection of some of my earlier influences. I think I was listening to a lot of Patti and Billy Joel and some of the more classic singer-songwriters I grew up on, and that was what I was really aiming for with People and Things, and I think on this record it’s almost a reflex to that. I tried to reflect on a more modern sound. A lot of the writing process was built around grooves and beats and different roots and things that we pulled together and I wrote around. I wrote around some of the drum programming as part of the process of writing the record. So you get more influence from programming and synth and keyboards melded together with the organic sounds of the piano and acoustic guitars and such.

Do you have any timeline for a release of the EP?

It’s not way up in the air, but I really hope it’s going to be out the last week of April. I think we’re at this point very close to announcing a release date. It should be end of April when it’s out for everybody.

You’re in the middle of your first big solo headlining tour. How’s it been so far?

It’s been great. We had the good fortune of getting out on the road in January with fun., so we had a little bit of time to get our feet wet out there playing shows and sort of getting the band chemistry and vibe together. I think we were lucky to have that because coming out on the headlining run, there’s just a few more shows under out belt. It’s been comfortable. It’s definitely a new set and a different kind of set to play to be able to dig in to the Jack’s Mannequin records and the Something Corporate records while playing new songs, so every night I kind of sit down and take a look and see what works with certain songs flowing into the next. But it’s been a pretty cool tour so far.

How different is the dynamic of Jack’s Mannequin and Something Corporate songs live with a different band?

I think because it’s a new band and because it’s a pretty new experience of trying to transition between Something Corporate songs and Jack’s songs of course it feels different. There are more guys on stage with us. Jack’s was a four piece, Something Corporate was a five piece, and now this band is a six piece, so there’s certainly a different dynamic because there are different personalities up here. I wouldn’t say it’s incredibly different, it feels like guys getting on stage every night and trying their hardest.

You recently opened up for fun., a band who in the past opened up for Jack’s Mannequin. Was that weird at all to see how everything switched up within a few year period?

I don’t know if I’d call it weird. I think that Nate, who’s been a good friend of mine for a long time, and Jack, who played in Steel Train, those guys have always been incredibly talented and incredibly driven, and I think that seeing any of your friends become famous and part of one of the biggest bands in the world in a matter of months, it’s wild to watch. For myself and a lot of my friends that came up with those guys, it’s been a real pleasure to see and I’m glad to be able to share the stage with them.

At the last Jack’s show, you filmed a live DVD. What’s that going to be like? Is it just the performance or are there going to be a bunch of extra behind the scenes stuff as well?

There are definitely some interview portions and other things. That stuff will be built into the DVD. It’s kind of funny that you mention it. I’m just downloading the first cut of the DVD right now. I can probably give you a better sense of that in another few days, but at this point I know we can shoot some behind the scenes stuff and some interview footage as well, so I’m thinking that’ll be put into that as well.

Apparently you’re writing a song that will be played on the TV Smash. How’d you get involved with that?

That was sort of a friend of a friend situation where the writer of that show was a fan of my music and happened to be connected through some people in my world and reached out to me personally to see if I would be interested. That’s pretty much it.

There’s been a little drama with the vinyl release for Played In Space. It was said by the label that put out Leaving Through The Window and eventually North that you were against that release. What’s going on with this?

As far as I know at this point, that little bit of controversy boiled up, and I think Universal will let us release the “Best Of” on vinyl when the time comes.

Any last things you want to say?

Thanks for the interview, and hopefully whoever’s reading this will keep on listening.

I'd like to thank Andrew again for taking time to speak with us. Andrew is definitely one of my favorite songwriters of all time and it was an absolute honor to be able to speak with him. The new material should be excellent, and the descriptions above do nothing but raise the already high expectations that I had. Check him out on tour if your dates haven't sold out yet, and be sure to follow everything he does on Facebook.

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