Those of you who follow me on Instagram know that I’ve enjoyed inviting you into my kitchen for some amateur cocktail making sessions. With this in mind I’ve paired up with my good friends at The Vine Restaurant in San Clemente to bring you the Rocktail Hour. In this series I’ll be teaching you how to make some exciting cocktails while sharing stories from my life as well as the inspiration behind the songs on Upside Down Flowers.
When Andrew McMahon announced his new LP, Upside Down Flowers, he referred to the album’s producer, Butch Walker, as a “fellow traveler.” That word choice was fitting, because if one word could describe McMahon over the 20 years that have so far encompassed his career, “traveler” is it. McMahon has made a lot of types of records over the years. He’s made emo-flecked piano rock records and sunny pop-punk records. He’s made Americana-influenced road trip records and towering stadium pop records. He’s made records about California and records about New York. He made one of the ultimate records about living young and free, followed by a record about almost dying young. He’s traversed a lot of territory over the course of eight LPs and three very distinct chapters. But he’s never made a record quite like Upside Down Flowers before, a record that is, ostensibly, about a traveler looking back and taking stock of where he’s been so far.
Upside Down Flowers is the most outwardly nostalgic album that McMahon has ever made. He’s written about the past before, but never in such detail or with such a storyteller’s eye. The first song on the album is called “Teenage Rockstars,” and it’s an unabashed tribute to McMahon’s bandmates from the Something Corporate days. The second song is called “Ohio,” and it vividly recounts the drive that transplanted his family from Ohio to the west coast—right down to the band that was playing on the car stereo. Listening to these songs feels like sitting next to McMahon on a couch, flipping through a photo album of old polaroids and hearing him recount the adventures and misadventures depicted in each. It’s a kind of intimacy we haven’t heard from him before.
Also, this beautiful record I’ve been producing for Andrew Mcmahon in the Wilderness is almost done, and the first song from it is “Ohio”. Hard to describe how much I love Andrew, his journey, and his work over the years. And mostly THIS SONG.
We’ve been giving Andrew McMahon a lot of love this week, all in honor of his brand new album, Zombies on Broadway. On Monday, we published an interview with him and yesterday, we reviewed the new record. Today, we’re attempting the impossible: distilling McMahon’s impressive 15-year career into one ultimate concert setlist.
For this playlist, I mostly adhered to the rules established last year in Craig Ismaili’s Ultimate Jimmy Eat World Setlist: 20 songs for the main set, two songs for the encore, and a mix of tunes that includes both hits and career-best songs. I did, however, dispense with Craig’s 80-minute rule, simply because that would mean burning one-eighth of the set on “Konstantine.”
Andrew McMahon is an artist who has had a very loyal and passionate following for a very long time. Starting with Something Corporate, which offered a piano-led twist on the emo/pop-punk trends of the early 2000s, McMahon has been regarded as a master of melody and a writer capable of churning out fiercely relatable songs. Suffice to say that BuzzFeed hit the nail on the head (for the first and last time) when it labeled “Konstantine” as the emo “Freebird.” When McMahon transitioned his career from Something Corporate into the poppier and more mature Jack’s Mannequin, it was a testament to his talent as a songwriter, his likability as a performer, and the strong personal resonance of his work that just about all of his fans were willing to go along for the ride.
Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness will release their sophomore LP, Zombies on Broadway, later this week. I spoke with McMahon on the phone about the new record’s pop-leaning direction, his ever-evolving sound, the way family has defined his last few albums, and whether or not he’d ever consider writing a memoir. We also spoke briefly about next year’s 10-year anniversary of Jack’s Mannequin’s The Glass Passenger and whether or not fans can expect any special tours or reissues to mark the occasion.
I wrote this album in the middle of a whirlwind, when the future was unclear. Isn’t it always? I found my way to the city, thinking I could settle a score with a ghost. You can’t, so I came home and rewrote the ending. I’m proud announce my new album, “Zombies on Broadway,” is coming on February 10th. I spent more than a year hoping to find new answers to old questions. What I found; I have always been two people; One in search of peace and the other in search of whatever makes my hair stand up and my heart beat faster. This record is mostly about the latter. You’ll be able to pre-order the album starting next Friday, November 18th through my webstore and digitally on all your favorite outlets. A new song “Brooklyn, You’re Killing Me” will also be released alongside the pre-order.