Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness

Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness

Andrew McMahon's spirit always shined through in both Something Corporate and Jack's Mannequin. However, 2013 has given audiences a chance to get to know him like never before. His new solo EP, The Pop Underground released April 30th on his own Left Here Music and debuted at #10 on Billboard’s indie album charts and the acclaimed pianist is now able to add Emmy nominee to his ongoing list of accolades. On July 18th, MacMahon received his first Emmy nomination in the “Outstanding Original Music and Lyrics” category for his song “I Hear Your Voice In A Dream" featured on the acclaimed NBC show “Smash.”

McMahon remains a versatile and vibrant singer. With emo pioneers Something Corporate, he released an EP and two acclaimed full-length albums that served as cornerstones of an entire scene from 1998 until the outfit disbanded in 2004. The catalog was celebrated with a 2010 reunion that sold out numerous dates across the states as well as appearances at Bamboozle and other festivals.

Meanwhile, Jack's Mannequin showed another side of this enigmatic songwriter, and fans and tastemakers immediately fell in love with their sound on the 2005 debut, Everything In Transit. However, 2008's The Glass Passenger established the group as a powerful presence, debuting at #8 on the Billboard Top 200 and moving over 49,000 units first week. McMahon would go on to grace the cover of Alternative Press during the album cycle, with Twilight Saga author Stephanie Meyer co-directing the music video for "The Resolution". Then, the final Jack's Mannequin release People and Things debuted at #9 on the Billboard Top 200 rounding out this unforgettable triumvirate of albums.

In the middle of it all, McMahon survived cancer, started the Dear Jack Foundation raising more than $500,000 towards research and awareness for blood disease and young adult cancer, toured the world, cumulatively sold in excess of one million records, and inspired countless people along the way.

He's still challenging himself as an artist though. On the EP, which debuted at #10 on Billboard’s indie album charts, the intimate lyrics and irresistible hooks that fans have come to expect certainly abound. At the same time, he ventures into different avenues, incorporating lush synths and atmospheric electronics. It's McMahon at his most open and, simultaneously, most adventurous.

While touring in support of People and Things in 2011, he began composing songs for what would eventually become his first solo effort. "For me, it seems like one fluid breath to this moment," the singer and songwriter affirms. "Jack's Mannequin began as a solo project, but it was always intended to be conceptual and have an ending. When I got sick, I continued to tell the story that Everything in Transit had begun. Somewhere around People and Things, I felt like it was time for me to own my name. It was natural to move on to another chapter and get to be myself, so to speak."

That next chapter formally commenced in the summer of 2012. McMahon had returned from a road trip with his family, and he decided he wanted to seek out a new musical collaborator. He found Brooklyn-based producer Mark Williams, and the duo began working on songs together. Almost instantly, they tapped into an undeniable chemistry, cranking out a myriad of songs that illuminated McMahon's own evolution. In addition, he joined forces with producer Tony Hoffer [Beck, Phoenix] as well. Through this collaboration, he tapped into a vital sound.

"The thread of my writing is very much intact," he assures of the solo material. "It feels like me, but the sound has progressed. We were in an environment where we could experiment. There are pianos, acoustic guitars, and live drums, but they're melded with synths, drum programming, and sound design. We aimed to strike a balance between the electronic and the organic."

That fusion simply shimmers on the first single, "Synesthesia". In addition to drawing inspiration from his pursuit of a pilot's license, he tells a vivid personal story over an electronic hum that makes for pure pop gold.

He reveals, "I had this note in my journal that said, 'Sometimes, you're only flying for a while.' I found that to be a very true-to-life statement. I knew I wanted to write a song about flying and it merged with a concept about Synesthesia, a condition where tones heard in music produce colors for the listener.

"Learn to Dance" skips from an iridescent beat into an irresistible refrain that'll undoubtedly get listeners moving.

"I was up in Los Angeles and I ended up staying out way too late with some friends one night," he recalls with a smile. "The next day, was my first meeting with Mark and he was hell bent on starting and finishing an idea in our first session. I was hungover and reluctant but he began to play this beat and suddenly there was a spark. This was born in a natural, stream-of-consciousness. Lyrically, it's about how life repeats itself in patterns. As you get older, you realize you can make the same mistakes your parents made. You start finding forgiveness for things you encountered in the past. You watch the way life moves in circles and embrace it. You might screw up today, but tomorrow can be brighter. You've got to live in the moment."

Fans continue to find inspiration in McMahon. His story is one of triumph in the face of unthinkable odds, surviving Leukemia and releasing records at the same time. He continues to progress and move forward.

"This is about creating," he concludes. "It's not about commerce or business. It's not overthought. These songs are free, and they flow. I hope people feel that joy and release. It was cathartic to let go of all expectations and make some fast and fun music. This is who I am now, and I can't wait for everyone to hear it."

BADBOXES

Badboxes are an indie-electronic outfit from Pittsburgh, PA. Frontman Harrison Wargo wrote, performed, produced, mixed, and mastered their debut EP "JSMN" over the course of a year, and in turn developed their innovative sound, which he calls "Northern Pop". The band's name comes from the box where you keep your "bad things", both metaphorically and literally, perfectly suited to their songs' ethereal imagery and themes of dark, musing innocence.

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