Andrew McMahon, a name synonymous with bands such as Something Corporate and Jack’s Mannequin. Now Andrew has a new project, Andrew McMahon In The Wilderness, and he’s headed out to Australia to play two incredibly intimate, acoustic shows and we caught up with him to talk about the tour, being a dad, and the Dear Jack Foundation.
It’s early on Saturday morning for me when the call to Andrew is placed, and on the other end, he’s sitting on a beach in California enjoying a summer evening. We first talked about the upcoming intimate Australian shows. “I’ve been looking forward to it, ever since it came up on the books. I get to bring my family this time and it’ll be their first in Australia,” Andrew says excitedly, and as he’s bringing his wife and daughter with him, I asked if there was going to be any sightseeing opportunities whilst on tour. “I’m gonna get into Sydney four nights before the show, then we’ll do the shows, then a friend of ours is getting married in Lorne, and then we’re headed up to Byron Bay.” So Sydney fans, keep your eyes peeled for Andrew in the days leading up to the show! For this tour, the first show being at The Factory in Sydney, and the second being at Max Watt’s in Melbourne, I asked Andrew what the reasoning behind these smaller shows was. “Before we kinda come back as a full band with a new album, getting to do a bit of a deep dive and getting to tell stories about these songs and do something a little bit more freeform,” he answers, sounding passionate and hopeful about the shows coming up.
Previously being a member of bands Something Corporate and Jack’s Mannequin, I asked Andrew where the ‘In The Wilderness’ portion of his current moniker came from. With a laugh, Andrew begins with “It’s kind of a long story! But I’ll do my best to stitch it up.” Taking a breath, Andrew continues: “When I was with Jack’s Mannequin and Something Corporate I sort of spent all those years on major labels, and worked with a lot of amazing people. I think as I found it, especially towards the end with Jack’s, every idea would be sold to a different label because of the instability of the music business.” He also says “It got to feeling very impersonal. I had a lot of people doing things for me that I could have done myself. When it came to winding Jack’s Mannequin down and deciding how I wanted to make music going forward, I was just looking for something more soulful.” Trying to keep himself succinct, Andrew adds “Those first moments, of figuring it out and hiring new management and what independent label to sign with and all of those things, in a lot of ways to me, it felt like The Wilderness. When I took over my Instagram account I wrote my handle as ‘AMInTheWilderness’ and it was an in jest and a joke to start off with, but it was wild nonetheless.” With a laugh, I reassured Andrew that that wasn’t a long-winded explanation at all! He laughed also and said “I can talk for days! I hate to burden a journalist with too much to quote so thank you for saying that!”
In 2005, at age 22, Andrew was diagnosed with leukaemia, and 2005 was a significant year for a few reasons. Firstly, he received a stem cell transplant from his sister, Katie, and his first album with Jack’s Mannequin ‘Everything In Transit’ was released. In 2016, Jack’s Mannequin reformed for the 10-year anniversary tour of the album. I asked Andrew about the tour, and how it was for him in terms of his health journey. “It was a blast! I’ll be honest I love those songs and that record to this day is one of my favourite albums I’ve ever had pleasure of recording.” Sounding just this side of nostalgic, Andrew adds “It was a joy to reunite with some of those characters on stage and to do that for fans and for the band and have everyone together.”
Turning the conversation back to touring, and the routine prior to taking to the stage, I asked Andrew if the warm up changed now, compared to his normal energy on stage. “Obviously there’s not the freedom for me to run the stage when I’m the only one playing the music! I know I have Zack, my keyboard player up there.” He laughs, having to take a second before continuing “It’s more vocally challenging as well. You have your piano and your voice and they’re the two instruments that have to fill a stage up. It’s less about the lighting and the flash and more about delivering a heartfelt performance of each song. It’s more of a meditative and vocal warm up that happens.” I also asked about what was playing in the green room before the show. Laughing, Andrew tells me “It’s a vocal warm-up tape that we have, and I tend to also warm up to The Beach Boys.” So keep your ears open for Pet Sounds by the beach boys and that’s how you’ll know that Andrew is warming up.
Next, I asked Andrew about The 200K Challenge that is being organised by the Dear Jack Foundation, an organisation Andrew founded in 2006 that helps young adults living with and surviving cancer. “It’s a beautiful fan driven event. Over the last three years, we started with the 72K challenge, and the goal was to raise a dollar for each of the 72,000 young adults diagnosed with cancer, and that year we raised $85,00. So last year we did the 100K challenge, and I can’t remember exactly but I think it was about $175,000 that year. All the money we raise goes to funding programs and operations with Dear Jack.”
Finally Andrew leaves us with this message “I always say I do a lot of my best thinking in Australia. I’m really excited to come out and play these shows for you guys!” So get your tickets before they sell out!
To find out more information about the Dear Jack Foundation, the 200K Challenge and how you can show your support, click here.
Get your tickets to see Andrew McMahon In The Wilderness live and intimate in Sydney and Melbourne HERE!