When I tell you that getting to chat and meet Andrew McMahon was a top 5 moment of my music career, I absolutely mean it. I grew up on Something Corporate then Jack's Mannequin, to the point that I literally bought a Beale Street Music Fest ticket at 19 JUST to see the group perform. We chatted for over the time limit, and Andrew is one of the sweetest and most down-to-earth musicians. We discussed his latest album, Tilt At The Wind No More, touring, nostalgia, and even my friend Melissa's CD collection.
Okay, so I don't even know where to begin?! First of all, I want to say I am a huge fan of your work - both solo and of Something Corporate and Jack's Mannequin fame. You were on my MySpace for YEARS. So I guess my first question is, how have you, as an artist, been able to transform and create new sounds, all while maintaining that same authenticity that you've had since the beginning of your career?
Andrew McMahon: I think a part of it is just sort of inborn, right? I think it's how I sort of grew up as a kid. My family sort of like moved every two years and, I think there was just sort of this natural cycle of change and rebirth that was kind of built like hardwired into my DNA from a young age. And for me, it's not like I get bored per se, but with all the music I've made, it's almost changing the sound slightly intentionally, right? I think it can be related to this idea of you, whether transforming, it's how my creativity is for me.
Yeah, that makes total sense.
Andrew McMahon: It just comes naturally - the way my brain comes up with a song in a different landscape or palette. I think that's how I've been able to have longevity. It's why I've been able to hide in plain sight.
Okay, I think this is the most accurate. I saw a TikTok of you where someone thought they were beside you on the plane, and of course, it actually was you.
Andrew McMahon: Yeah, I mean, it's funny being this long in the business, and I'll meet someone, or they come to my show and be like, "You sound just like that guy from this or that." And, ya know, it is me. But I think it's what keeps me humble. It's not easy to start over, but it's what moves me. It comes with its challenges.
I think the amazing part of it all is that people who have always liked your sound, will grow and evolve with you and love whichever project you put out, too.
Andrew McMahon: Definitely, I think that's the best part of blending in and evolving. It's like a quest to evolve because, you know, there is always can be a bullshit meter, right? Like even when I'm in sessions, I want to make sure this is something I want to actually make, and if it doesn't pass that test, then we have to go through quality control.
Totally. What is your creative process like for you? Like when you're writing a song, are you the one who kind of like has a journal? Do you have like a notes app? Like how are you constantly finding ideas for your music?
Andrew McMahon: It's a lot of that. I consider myself to be project-oriented, in the sense that when I finish one of these big, big works like putting out a record, right?
Andrew McMahon: There are times when there's this sort of depressed, coming down, deflating of where you sit down for a second and go about your day, and you're like, okay, what's next? So I sort of do have a journal with me, my notes app, and I'll sit down and start building up little by little where the ideas start coming together. I'll piece the paper together and start putting sound down and eventually get in rooms with people. I want to touch base with other humans and see where our energy aligns and where our stories align.
How has this been incorporated into how you create music?
Andrew McMahon: When you start talking to other people about where they are in their life and you can, and you feel where you are, I think you start being able to triangulate a little bit and understand. The, the, the mask, you know? And, it's not the intention just to be broad or to but, but what we do is we make pop music.
We want, we want everyone to hear these things. Yeah. You know, and so knowing where up like my friends are at and where my family's at, and, and trying to sort of like really be like a vessel for that. Mm-hmm. And. Um, is really important. And, and then, yeah, and then I just start, I'll, I'll, I'll start working at the piano.
What are these sessions like?
Andrew McMahon: I'll start working in other sessions and, and then once something breaks through, then usually that's when I go, "Okay, this is something I really like." And then, something connects, and you're like, "Oh, I fucking, I found some truth. And then you're like, okay, now I'm like, the course is set."
Is this how Tilt At The Wind No More came about?
Andrew McMahon: It's weird, yeah, because I realize how painful, painful in a relative term, how this process is. This record was mostly created last spring, but it was basically done before the summer. I spent these months in this song and dance where I was touring, playing other songs, and releasing things one at a time, and I think when I look back, it was fairly easy.
I think that's the great thing about how music's constantly transforming. We're so used to having large projects from our favorites, but sometimes it's nice to have a single here and there.
Andrew McMahon: Absolutely. And I think with the world of streaming, we're more adapted. And as a one-off, this project will continue to hold me over because I will keep writing until I find a group of songs or a project that I enjoy putting out. I'm glad I did what I did for this record. 'Cause I feel like it is intentionally cohesive, and it's intended to mark on.
No, I think this is the perfect record.
Andrew McMahon: I really appreciate that. Yeah. Like, and, and so like, I'm glad that this is the one that I think I'm choosing to sort of hang my hat on for a little bit.
Which song is the one you're most proud of for your fans to have in their hands?
Andrew McMahon: I think for me, "Submarine." It had been a while since it was just me and a piano, and I was able to put two ballads on this record. I think I'm like too deep in it to really, really be able to properly answer the question you have. I'll just go with this for now.
I know we discussed we don't know what the next project could potentially sound like or become, but do you have an idea of what's next?
Andrew McMahon: Like what is to come, um, my, so what is next? Fuck, if I know, man, haha! Um, a lot of touring. I'll be going out again in the summer, and it'll be amazing to play the new album because prior because of the pandemic, I was doing a lot of throwback tracks. So it'll be awesome to make up for lost time with this album. I would never go out to play, just the new stuff. It's always fun to flex the muscles and play the songs that connected with the fans in the first place. I can't really say what IS next. I'm just going to enjoy the tour, take the time on the road and let that determine the direction of what's to come.
I love this. Speaking of songs that connect to fans in the first place, I have to take this time to tell you that my friend still plays Something Corporate's Leaving Through the Window in her car. Yes, the CD.
Andrew McMahon: HA! Oh wow, your friend must have an older car! But please tell her thank you for the support. I love that so much.
No, as a fan who grew up listening to that album and putting the tracks on my MySpace, it's been amazing to see you and the old bandmates of your projects get back together. We'll even be at Where We Were Young, so this is a personal plug to say I am extremely excited about seeing you perform again.
Andrew McMahon: Well, you'll definitely have to come by and say hello!
We will. Honestly, thank you for this interview. This is something I have truly thought and imagined since I was 16, so this is so full circle for me.
"At 15 years old, I begged my mom to take me to Walmart to get Taylor Swift's debut deluxe album and I never turned back. This was my very first entry point to stan fandom. Growing up in Memphis, Tennessee I was exposed to a ton of music - from rapping 3 6 Mafia to bopping to Justin Timberlake's solo discography. Now, in LA have a day job working in nonprofit development, but by night, I'm a full-fledged fangirl. I'll listen to generally any genre, but I'm a sucker for a good pop song. If you ever need someone to scream sing Carly Rae Jepsen's E·MO·TION with, I'm your girl. No, I still have not gotten over the One Direction hiatus. Please continue to respect my privacy. Twitter : samfonggg, Instagram : samantha_fong"