Interview: Andrew McMahon of Jack’s Mannequin

Andrew McMahon

So, you are in a few bands (Something Corporate/Jack’s Mannequin). How did you first start getting involved in music?

Since I was little I was always fascinated by music. Whether I could play or not, I would grab every musical instrument I could get my hands on. Eventually around the age of nine on the heels of my uncle passing away, I found myself at the family piano, writing my first song. From there I never stopped and spend most of my time thinking about music and those rare perfect songs.

What were some of your music influences and favorite bands growing up?

It will shock most people to hear who my early influences were. I listened to Bob Marley, Jimi Hendrix, U2, The Greatful Dead, Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers and Eric Clapton. I was a huge fan of Billy Joel and the Counting Crows and eventually gravitated towards Weezer, Ben Folds, Superdrag, Travis and many others.

I heard that you recently met up with Tommy Lee and recorded a couple of songs with him. How did you go about getting involved with him and having him write with you?

It was rumored through some mutual business associates that Tommy really liked Something Corporate’s North album. One night he called wanting some help on a song he’d been working on. I met him that night, and we’ve collaborated on quite a few tracks ever since.

Lets talk about Jack’s Mannequin. What is the significance behind the name?

Originally, there was not much significance behind the name. I had thought about naming it The Mannequins, but had grown bored of the “the” band names. I finished a song early on while writing for this record called “Dear Jack” and just kind of sandwiched the two words together.

Upon my leukemia diagnoses the band name became ironic–considering the Jack I wrote the song for and ultimately named the project after–had suffered from childhood leukemia.

What does the future look like for Jack’s Mannequin?

Well, I have never been one to spend too much time on matters of the future. I think my life thus far has been a perfect marriage of ambition and coincidence that has never landed me where I’ve predicted.

Such is the case with Jacks (although I would love for this album to reach as many people as humanly possible). I look forward to pursuing the goal of sharing Jack’s as soon as I’m healthy enough to do so.

What kind of difference is there in playing/writing/recording from Jack’s Mannequin and Something Corporate?

The differences are pretty simple. In a band everything is approached very democratically. You make decisions as a group, which has its upsides and downsides. With the Jacks it is much more geared towards the sound I hear in my head when I’m working on a song. We just go for that sound and you don’t really have to answer to anyone. The downside being that if it sucks, there isn’t much in the way of checks and balances to keep you from going down that road. I think this is why I spent so much time working on this album. 

Do you have and songs that you have written that really stick out and are your favorites?

I’ve always loved “The Astronaut” on Leaving Through the Window. On this record I would say “Bruised” is the most substantial for me.

So, I hope this isn’t too personal of a subject. But how has your treatments and recovery from leukemia been going?

Well, I’m actually writing from the hospital right now where I’ve just done my first round of radiation. So far so good. It’s going to be a tricky month as I prepare for my transplant, but I feel strong enough and have so much to look forward to that makes me eager to get to the other side of this.

How has it felt to see so many people showing love and support through such a hard time?

It’s been incredible. I hear a new story every day that blows me away. I have always said that something corporate has an amazing group of fans, and this situation has really proven that to me.

Have there been and gifts from fans that really stuck out to you?

I’ve gotten some awesome things, a lot of which I’m waiting to open once I have the energy to reply. To me, some of the letters though have been so impacting. Just sensing such a strong connection to music that you’d write a letter to the person who makes it wishing them well is proof of how powerful and healing music can be.

Do you have any touring plans later on this year?

It will be a while before I can make any extending plans for the road. I am definitely planning to make some appearances when I’m well, we’ve just got to get past the rough spots first and the plans will follow.

On the subject of tours, what were some of your favorite tours that you had been on?

I’ve really loved most of them. We’ve really bonded with bands like Mae and Days Away and Yellowcard. Each tour is it’s own animal. That co-headliner with Yellowcard was pretty amazing, a real rock and roll event. I’ll never forget that one.

Who were the best bands to go out on tour with?

Aside from the bands I’ve just mentioned, I always loved hitting the road with the Format guys as well as NFG, the Academy Is and we had a pretty great time corrupting Hidden in Plain View.

I read somewhere that you are a vegetarian, and I also read that you have had to start eating a 4000 calorie diet. What type of stuff have you been having to eat lately since the diagnosis?

Lots of pizza, Greek food, Mexican, Ice cream, pasta. I put back most of the weight, so I guess it was pretty effective.

What was the worst job you ever had growing up?

For about three days I worked at in n out. They were known for paying well and I had a lot of friends working there. I gave it a shot, but something about putting on that fucking hat every day really got to me. That and I constantly smelled like in n out.

If I was to look at your iPod/CD player, what kind of music would I find?

Everything from Bob Dylan to Brand New. I love all types of music, I’ve definitely been on a classic kick this year, with the beach boys and the kinks, but I’m a sucker for a good song, that olive branch can extend to Hillary Duff on a weak afternoon sometimes.

Well, that’s about all the questions I have for you. Thank you again for taking the time to do this interview and you are in all of our prayers. Is there anything you would like to say to all the readers and fans out there in land?

Just thank them for being there with me through this tough time, I am excited to see you all again soon. 


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