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Saturday, February 24th
The Hot Sweat
Hana Pestle
Hana Pestle
InterviewWhile touring the country as an opening act for Paramore’s Final Riot Tour, Jack’s Mannequin is preparing for their chance to shine. With the much anticipated sophomore release The Glass Passenger,” set to be released September 30th,  Andrew McMahon’s side project sure promises to be back stronger than ever. We caught up with Andrew during the New Jersey stop of the Riot Tour and got to know the amazing man behind it all. 

Cristina: When did you decide music was what you wanted to do?
Andrew: You know, I think it has always been music in some level.  When I was younger my parents had a piano in the house. Three of my four older brothers were in that High School ages so there was always a great influx of music. They were listening to all sorts of great stuff. A close family member of mine, my Uncle, had passed away. At that same time one of our family members taught me how to play a little song on the piano. So I went home with that and started playing my own thing to help me cope with that. 

CC: So from a young age music has always been the way you vent …
AM: Yeah that’s really it. It’s been the place where I go process whatever I’ve encountered throughout the day. Generally speaking I use it to cope with things that are more of a struggle or the kind of questions that are harder to answer. Those are the types of things I like to bring to the piano. It starts with this idea of trying to connect with something inside and make the connection enough to understand what it is that you’re dealing with at the moment. The songwriting process is never finished by just getting into the piano. The next step is making your though process understood to other people. 

CC: The songs from Something Corporate and Jack ’s Mannequin are completely different on a lyrical level. As a songwriter, did you feel like you were exposing yourself by putting out there more raw lyrics
AM: Yes and No. I think the Jack’s album is the type of music I always wanted to make. In Something Corporate started to make that kind of music. But for me, I was getting older and getting to a place where I was ready to sing these kind of songs. More than anything I felt like the reason I started playing music was to dig that deep – it was to get that much out of it.  And it felt sort of freeing to be able to put out that type of music. 

CC: Is that the type of music we can see in the new Jack ’s Mannequin record , because we only have one Jack’s Mannequin record to refer to...
AM: Yes. I think this is going to be a deeply personal record. At the same time, there is some material that is more symbolic as opposed to “Everything in Transit” which was like this is it! But yeah, there is definitely a combination. 

CC: “The Glass Passenger” has been highly anticipated by both your critics and fans. Do you feel pressured at all or relieved that people already love Jack’s Mannequin’s music…
AM: It’s hard to even think about it like that. I obviously want people to like it because I’m making art for the public. But at the same time I’m never going to settle for making the same thing twice. You have to go out on a limb and you have to take chances.  When it’s something like sound, the simple sonics of the record, the things that attract me are the lyrics and sentiment. I’ve always been a sentiment person. I want each record to be listened in a way as far as the emotions people are going to feel listening to it. Sonically it is always going to be different and yeah I do get nervous about it. But you just have to put out a record without thinking about it. 

CC: You make music for the love of making it and if people like it great …
AM: Exactly! You don’t wanna worry about it but you do. And you have to let that go enough to let yourself make the music that is coming through. 

CC: You mentioned that you were experimenting some new things on this record. What are some new things we can expect to hear?
AM: On this record we had more immediate access to musicians. Period. Before we didn’t have a producer or engineer and we were just bashing out and piecing it together.  I love the last record, I would never say anything bad about it  because I feel it is one of the best things I’ve ever done – but it was definitely more simple and more about the lyrics and the piano and just those elements. But this record has all those things improved and more. We had the band with us in the studio developing more involved arrangements. 

CC: Did you have more freedom to do things that you ’ve always wanted to do because you know had access to producers, band…
AM: Yes and No. I think what we did for the last record was perfect. I cannot imagine doing it another way. I needed the simplicity. I needed to be alone. I needed to be in an environment where I didn’t need to process other people’s ideas. Being in a band before it was all about everyone’s opinions and I wanted to do whatever I wanted. For this record I wanted to expand, I wanted to grow on a musical level. I wanted to be influenced by musicians being around me. I took that path and I opened myself up.  I took more of that on this record – which was a benefit but it also made it harder.  

CC: You have also started your own recording label, Airport Tapes and Records and signed Treaty of Paris whom I love. Do you see yourself doing more of the producing aspect in the future?
AM:  Ahh Excellent someone likes them! Haha But to answer your question: Yes and No. At the moment I’m focused on my own stuff. When I started Airport it was at a time when I wasn’t in a position to be traveling as much.  Because of my health I wasn’t able to be doing the things I am doing now. You know, we had Treaty [of Paris] and the whole idea was that my record was going to come out sooner and we would help them come into the music scene.  But they’ve done amazing. In the past year, they developed such a great fanbase on their own – which is really what the idea of Airport is about.  You can’t guarantee someone’s success. But if you find a group of guys who are hard workers, passionate and write great songs you give them a chance to work.  But you still want to help them out. So you’ll definitely see Treaty out on the road with us for sure.  So right now we’re focusing on the release of this record and then we can start focusing on other projects.  Whether I produce or something else I’m not sure but we’ll see. 

CC:   So Jack’s Mannequin has been out of the spotlight for a while but your fans are still insane and just as passionate. And Jack’s Mannequin fans are known to be pretty crazy. What is the relationship you have with them and how important are they to you?
AM: They’re insane I know haha. Well speacially in relation to the last record, that group of kids carried my album. There was a thought of being a solo artist , putting out a record but I wasn’t able [because of my health] to go out  on the road and promote it.  I was sick, but the passion of the Messengers [JM Street Team] was more than alive.  Without their support they wouldn’t even be a Jack’s Mannequin.  My position and my career would be nothing today if it wasn’t for that group of people who really decided to step up. When I couldn’t swing the bat they went out and swung it for me.  In a lot of ways I make music for myself first but  I make art for them as well. I think the relationship I have with my fanbase  since we started Jack’s Mannequin has been multiplying and is more intense as time goes on.

CC: Yeah I remember you being sick and we were promoting the record intensely. And when you came back you were humbled by how big you became while you were taking that break…
AM: Well thank you first of all. And you’re right. The idea of selling more than a quarter million records on an album I didn’t get to promote was just incredible. To say that I’m thankful would never be enough… 

CC: That ’s why we do it.
AM: And I appreciate it so much, I can’t tell you 

CC: You just got out of Warped Tour. Now you ’re opening for Paramore.. Now that you’re bringing yourself back to the spotlight through touring, how does that compare to your headlining shows in the past and hopefully near future?
AM: For us, we play so many shows all year long – what the show is about is the same thing the record is about.  First of all it’s to perform for your fans and to connect. There are different degrees of connecting. When you play a headlining show people are there to see you, so you’re ability to connect is greater and the connection is deeper. But when you play Warped, or when I play a show like tonight you have a bigger purpose in some aspect. Hey maybe if we do a good job we’re going to have someone who never saw us before might hatch some love or at least some respect. Or maybe they’ll hate us. But the idea is that you’re out there having a good time. I honestly love both. When I have a headlining show it takes all day for me to prepare – my head is in that moment always. Doing that opening slot is a bit more relaxed. You try and shed some of that. It sees weird because you would think it’s a pressurized situation. But you go out there, do your gig to the best of your ability and hope that people like you.  

CC: Where do you see yourself in the future?
AM: I don’t. I try not to. Wow, that sounded way more morbid than what I intended. The thought of projecting into the future and creating a set of criteria which would define whether I am successful or not has never worked for me. You envision yourself somewhere and when you get there you are never satisfied. It’s always changing for me. There’s a handful of things that are important to me: my family, my health, my belief to play music for a living. All I hope is that all those things in the future are doing well. That they’re still there for me.

Kim KaminskeCristina Carrazza is the assistant regional head for the Midwest for Musiqtone.com. You can reach her at cristinacarrazza@musiqtone.com.

(C) 2008 Musiqtone. All Rights Reserved. Any part of this interview cannot be used without written express consent from both the representatives of Jack's Mannequin and Musiqtone.
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