Meeting your favourite singer, actor or anyone famous is always a very weird and unreal experience.
Meeting your favourite singer, actor or anyone famous is always a very weird and unreal experience. For me this happened when I sat down with Andrew McMahon of Jack’s Mannequin and Something Corporate before he played the Ruby Lounge in Manchester on 12th May this year. I walked in through the back door into an empty venue where he was rehearsing one of his songs and I was one of the only people in the room and I felt like I stepped into a dream.
We chatted about his most recent EP, The Pop Underground, and how it was traveling solo since Jack’s Mannequin split up just last year and how it traveling around the UK was compared to the US. The acoustic show that evening was sold out and Andrew was better than ever.
Me: How has it been touring solo without Jack’s Mannequin?
Andrew: It’s been cool I still have two members of Jack’s traveling with me to most shows. It’s an adjustment period, like playing with new guys on stage and there’s that, but being able to play everything from back to the Something Corporate days plus the new music is pretty liberating.
Me: So you’re still playing Jack’s Mannequin and Something Corporate songs?
Andrew: Yeah, we literally probably play you know 60/40 Jack’s and Something Corporate and then new stuff.
Me: Since The Pop Underground was an EP does that mean we can expect a full album sometime soon?
Andrew: Not necessarily, I’m definitely working on a lot of stuff. I put out the EP because my whole idea was that once I kind of got free of the label and got in a position where it was just me I wanted to send the signal that I could make something fast and get it out there. So that’s kind of why the EP came so quickly after everything wound down with Jack’s. I’ll definitely be working from now up to when I leave for the OAR tour this summer and then once I get back I’ll start trying to make as much music as possible.
Me: The sound on The Pop Underground is a lot different than past stuff, is that the direction you’re headed in?
Andrew: Not necessarily, it was just sort of the direction that EP went. I knew I wanted to make something a little more modern since I felt like the last Jack’s record really in a sense was a nod to a lot of the artists that I grew up listening to. I channelled a lot of Billy Joel and Tom Petty stuff because that wasn’t something I had the chance to really do before. With the EP I wanted to make something that was a little bit more current. I did a lot of the writing in the studio with a producer who was very savvy as far as the technology stuff goes; he was really great at programming drums and stuff so it was just a natural thing. It was this relationship I started with this producer Mark Williams so I was like let’s make this record together and it just sort of ended up playing into these other influences.
Me: Where did the name The Pop Underground come from?
Andrew: It was a combination of things. I sort of loosely referred to my audience and my music for the past few years as this pop underground thing. Mainly because I make pop music, I’m not trying to say I do something avant-garde or classical, I mean it’s a song with hooks and choruses. It’s a reference to the fact that it’s always sort of been right at the surface and I’ve never really totally broken through to the mainstream yet, but it’s managed to keep this cult-y following that sustained me.
Me: Do you have a favourite song on the new EP?
Andrew: ‘Synesthesia’ it was the one that was written most recently for the record and it was like kind of this last shot of inspiration. The relationship I developed with the guys working on the record was part of it and we had sort of found our sound and found our direction and so it just became a song very quickly and I think it’s just a really personal one so I definitely connected.
‘The Pop Underground EP’ can be purchased off of iTunes and Andrew will be on tour throughout the summer. Have your say about the music of Andrew McMahon in the comments section below, on Facebook or on Twitter.