Andrew McMahon is one of our absolute favourite songwriters. He is equally inspiring as he is talented. His musical journey has taken him from Something Corporate to Jacks Mannequin and now Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness. In September 2018 Andrew will return to Australia for two very special acoustic shows. We were lucky enough to catch up with Andrew to learn more about the tour.

SCENEzine
How’s 2018 been for you so far?

Andrew McMahon
It’s been good, busy but just the right amount of time on the road and time off to create and hang with the family. I’ve got no complaints.

SCENEzine
Very soon you will be back in Australia but I was a little worried you had forgotten about us since your last album came out a while ago.

Andrew McMahon
Hell no I could never forget Australia are you kidding. It’s one of my favourite places in the world to both visit and play. It’s actually going to be a really cool trip I get to bring me daughter and wife out for the first time. I’ve been trying to get my wife out there forever and finally we have a bit of time either side of the shows. We are excited.

SCENEzine
So this time around you will be doing things differently stripping the songs back and telling some stories behind the songs.

Andrew McMahon
Yeah it’s something we’ve been doing a pretty fair amount of in the States lately. I did the same tour in the UK last year it’s a cool moment especially with the latest record being out for a while. I take the Wilderness project, Jacks Mannequin and Something Corporate songs and reflect on the three different chapters in my career so far. I get to tell some of the stories about where the songs came from with the writing process and creating process.

SCENEzine
There’s always such a great storytelling quality to your songs. Do you find it important for songs to be given meaning rather than just disposable pop songs about twerking?

Andrew McMahon
(laughs) Yeah I’m not very good at the twerking songs. I think there’s something about getting in a room with your fans and being honest about where I was at when I wrote these songs. For me over the years I have been very fortunate to have such a committed group of people listening to this music who have followed me through a lot of different band names and sounds. I look at these shows as a way to celebrate where I came from, arrived at and maybe even hint at what’s coming.

SCENEzine
I really like your new song “Ohio” do you think we will get to hear that live in Australia?

Andrew McMahon
Yeah absolutely I’ll definitely be playing that one out there. A week after I get back from Australia the announcement will go out about the new record. Hopefully I can play another of the new songs as well while we are out there, maybe try and debut something on the other side of the world.
 

 
SCENEzine
Since this tour will be more stripped back does that mean no big inflatable yellow duck on this tour?

Andrew McMahon
(laughs) That would be tricky I don’t know if it would make any sense without music being played behind it. Usually I’ve got a pretty decent backing band to help set the mood while I float. I’m actually really crossing my fingers that once we get through these couple of dates and put the plans together for the next record that we will be able to do a proper band tour out there in 2019 and the duck will definitely attend.

SCENEzine
I remember seeing you last time you visited Sydney a few years back. I was blown away by the crowd literally singing every song back to you. It must be an amazing feeling for you?

Andrew McMahon
Yeah it is. It’s crazy for me that I’ve been able to do this as long as I have to be honest. Every day that I wake up and write songs for a living and perform them is a day that I’m really grateful for. The fact that I’ve been able to travel around the world and do it for eighteen years and have people not just sing the words to the songs that have been on the radio but knowing the deeper songs is something I pinch myself about on a daily basis.

SCENEzine
Zombies on Broadway was of my favourite albums of 2017. You must be proud of how it turned out?

Andrew McMahon
It’s funny because for me when making music I kind of have to divorce myself from whatever I did last. Then start from scratch starting over. With Something Corporate and Jacks Mannequin they were always pretty dramatically different. For me going into Zombies which was a really wild record to make. I travelled a ton of days to make that record and worked with some of the most incredible producers and writers. It was this really highly collaborative, adventurous process. When it was over I was glad it was over because it nearly killed me. But it’s an album that I’m extremely proud of and glad that it’s out in the world.

SCENEzine
One of my favourites from the album is “Brooklyn You’re Killing Me” was that song based around the chorus?

Andrew McMahon
No truthfully it started with those verses. It’s funny I wrote that with an Australian the singer of Atlas Genius Keith. We had met a bunch of times touring our records in the States. I’d always wanted to write with Keith I’ve been a huge fan of those guys since they put out their first EP. We got together in a little studio after I had pulled the plug on recording in New York. The party scene had eaten me alive out there and I had this whole journal full of notes after feeling fried from my time in Brooklyn. He had that guitar riff and bass groove that you hear at the top of the song. We were trying to write melodies over it but I said open up a track and I’m just going to read this crazy set of words that I have in my journal. It started flowing through those verses and I got through one verse and all of a sudden that chorus just showed up. It was written in my journal Brooklyn you’re killing me so I thought well this is appropriate and that was that. It took an afternoon to write it and I got to work with Tommy English who I love as a producer. It’s hard to do that one acoustic (laughs) but it’s a fun song.
 

 
SCENEzine
Going way back in time was the experience of filming the video for “If You C Jordan” fun to make?

Andrew McMahon
Oh yeah it was amazing. I think I was eighteen years old, on a set of a $250,000 music video with a bunch of models and a playmate (laughs). As far as teenage dreams go that was definitely the quintessential hysterical fantasy I guess. It was totally surreal I never had expected that song would be popular with anybody but the crowd I ran with in high school. Because it seemed to me it was only relevant to that experience but all of a sudden we were getting played on the radio and shooting this hysterical music video. It was a blast no question about it.
 

 
SCENEzine
Lastly you’re songs can get quite emotional just wanted to check is it ok if Australian fans maybe cry a little at your shows?

Andrew McMahon
Oh hell yeah I’m a fan of a cathartic experience. I am no stranger to shedding a tear and having a extreme freak out at a concert. I’m fully supportive of whatever emotional journey you might be on during the show that’s no problem with me.

(interview by Christian Ross)

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