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.
“Even if your voice comes back again/Maybe there’ll be no one listening.”
The morning I climbed into my car to drive myself to the first day of my last year of high school, those lyrics punched me straight in the gut. I was reeling from a broken heart, given to me by a girl who’d occupied my mind all summer long. A few months earlier, she would have been walking the same high school halls that I was driving toward that morning. But she’d graduated and was now two hours south, probably waking up for her first day of college classes. Things hadn’t worked out between us, and if I’d been smart, I would have realized three months earlier that they were never going to. I didn’t, and now I was nursing a few fresh wounds and the prospect of facing down one last year of high school without her and without all the other friends who had left this town behind. “Crashin” was the song playing on the stereo, but it was a line from Andrew McMahon’s previous album that might have been most appropriate: “Hold on/It’s gonna be a hard day.”
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.
Over the last year I’ve noticed an uptick in customer service and shipping complaints from my web store. I want you all to know I’ve heard you loud and clear. I tried dealing these issues internally on several occasions but things were not improving. It’s taken a minute to find a new home but I’m happy to announce we’ve moved the store. I’m excited for this new partnership and I feel confident fans will be better served all around. To celebrate we are launching a discounted collection of merchandise that will be available for a limited time.
His new store is now up with some discounted and limited merch.
Limited to only 1,111 bottles this bold, spicy hot sauce is not only a delightful treat for your taste buds, but it’s only a unique piece of memorabilia for any SoCo fan!
I have done my best to keep my politics and my platform as an entertainer separate. Honestly, it’s something I struggle with daily, but I hold that line out of respect for my fans and out of disgust for the state of American politics. I believe that today’s hyper-politicized world is a serious distortion of reality. I believe that neighbors who disagree with one another have the capacity to find common ground and regularly do. I believe the politicians we elect to represent us and the diversity of our opinions and lifestyles, are failing us by not seeking that common ground. I’ve chosen to stay publicly apolitical because there are few spaces left that have not been politicized. I have immense respect for those who use their platforms to rally people to that which they believe is right and true. Still, I feel in this climate, my greatest contribution could be to remind people as they stand side by side in a live music venue that we are not as different as our televisions and our political leaders would like us to believe. With this in mind I would appreciate it if politicians and representatives of political parties would refrain from the public use of my music as KellyAnne Conway and the GOP did today at their CPAC convention. My music is about uniting people through our common experience and is not intended as hype tracks for political dog and pony shows.
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.