BLAST: Of all the albums, Something Corporate and Jack’s Mannequin, which are you closest to?
AM: Which album am I closest to? I’d say from some respects Everything In Transit, to be honest. The place that it held in my life at that point, it was really the only thing I had in a lot of ways. I was sort of this free-floating thing at that point. There was so little assurance. Something Corporate had crushed and was so successful and frankly we were probably on our way to the next thing being huge, but instinctually (sic) I think I knew and the rest of the guys knew that if we went and make a record it wasn’t going to be as good because we weren’t getting along. So Everything In Transit was this huge awakening for me. It was like making music with this immense freedom and this ability to just say, “Hey.” It really was just the freest I’ve felt, not just musically but personally. I didn’t care about poor and spending all my money to make the album. It was like, nothing else mattered at that point but just trying to make songs that were fair and representative of what was going on at that time. So in that sense, it sort of was this sort of blistering, idealized period in my life, you know. Frankly, it was a pretty painful and hard time to do this but the underlining current was just: “Music will pull you through. This music is going to stay no matter what.” Obviously everything that transpired during the finishing and release of that record with me getting sick and all the bizarre references throughout the album to hospitals and doctors and sort of this bizarre foreshadowing that existed throughout that record, it was hard not to feel like I was writing my death in that album. I think in a lot of senses, whether I think it’s the best record is maybe a different story, but I think it’s the closest I’ve ever felt to a body of work.
BLAST: When you were coming up with the name Something Corporate, did it ever occur to you it would have the same nickname as the liqueur, Southern Comfort?
AM: Yeah, I mean, well, no. One, no, I had not even thought of it for a second, and frankly, never in our whole life. People used to call us SoCo. It kind of bothered us, because we were like, “What the fuck is that about?” You know what I mean? [laughter] So no, that was just something kids started abbreviating the name and started calling us “SoCo.” That was like a nickname penned by the fans and sort of perpetuated by them which is fine, it’s sort of the way these things go. Sometimes people have their perspective on how they want to address you and that was sort of out of our hands at that point.
BLAST: Your “Set-List Creation” video has become Andrew McMahon-lore by this point in time. When you’re performing, is it very close to the preordained set-list or do you improvise?
AM: Well I mean, yeah, the video’s just hysterical. That has just come back at me more times than any other piece of video or anything that’s been shot. I tend to stick to the set once I’ve written it. From tour to tour, sometimes we play a very similar set; sometimes we change it every night. I have a feeling on this next headliner that the first couple songs might be the same every night, because with the lighting and stuff you want to be able to create a certain intensity when you pay that much money for lighting and all that stuff, but I imagine on this tour just because we have two records worth of material and what not that we are in kind of a unique position to change it up and keep it fresh every night as we travel from show to show. Sometimes if we come out and do an encore, I’ll call out what they call “audibles” and we’ll change the set from there. When we did the small club tour in the fall when the record came out, there were a lot of audibles. We would come out for the encores and a lot of times the encore would end up being 45 minutes because we would just be having fun and we would just be playing whatever in a 500, 600 person club and we would just kind of dick around and have fun. But yeah, generally speaking, once I write the set we stick to it. There’s four other dudes on the stage and sometimes trying to holler out new songs and have everybody change guitars and different tunings and things can be a real pain in the ass.
BLAST: What’s your favorite song from The Glass Passenger to perform?
AM: That’s hard, you know. That’s one of those things that changes since it’s such a new record. I love playing “Crashin.” “Spinning” and “Crashin,” those are really fun live. Hmm, let’s see, what is another good one I’m really digging playing…
BLAST: Well, what is your favorite of all your songs to perform?
AM: God, what is at this point my favorite of all my songs to play? You know, we’ve been opening the set with “Crashin” lately and it’s just such a fun song to start the show off with. It’s got such a vibe and stuff. I’m really enjoying doing that one live. I’m trying to think of everything that we do. It’s funny because I was thinking of this the other day and I actually remember having the answers and now I’m like totally blanking on it. “Bruised” is always a fun one because people kind of go apeshit during that song and that’s always kind of fun to see people reacting on that level to anything. Like I said, it changes from night to night. A lot depends on the audience and their reaction. There will be nights where we do “Caves,” and we’ll do the first half of “Caves” and you can hear a pin drop in the house and it’s super intense and that can be the one. And there are nights where you got to do a song like that or a quiet song where you’re really ready to connect to a crowd and you’re ready to do this thing and all of the sudden you can hear the bartenders throwing old beer bottles into the trash and you’re just like, “Oh shit, there’s no vibe on this at all.” I kind of concede to the audience on that stuff and a lot of times that’s what ends up deciding what is my favorite or not that night.
BLAST: At this point in your life, are you completely sick of hearing about “Konstantine”?
AM: It will always hold a special place in my heart. People say I hate that song because I won’t play it or anything but it’s just like, “No it’s just really long and really slow and really not written for a band to be playing.” We love to have a Something Corporate song most nights on a headliner but, you know at the same time, the problem with “Konstantine” is, as I said, that song might as well have its own zip code or something. “Konstantine” might as well have its own band name. It is what it is. It is this entity unto itself and unfortunately, if I ever play it, I’ll have to play it forever, every night. If it weren’t such a big deal for me to play “Konstantine,” then I probably would play it. But the truth is, as soon as I bring that song out one time, I will never be able to walk through a venue, no matter what band I’m playing with or no matter where I’m at, and not have people chant and cheer for it. I appreciate the fact that people love the song and that it means a lot to them, but I don’t think it’s appropriate for me to go play a 10 minute ballad from a Something Corporate record every night while I’m on tour with Jack’s Mannequin. That’s why I don’t do it.
Thanks for sharing this I’M A HUGE FAN OF STEPHENIE MEYERS !
I love Jack’s Mannequin, they’re definitely one of my favorite bands and I’m seeing them next week and then again in July. It’s great how Andrew’s experiences have helped shape his music and I really admire him for the things that he does. Thanks for the great interview. Oh and I’m a Twilight fan too. Woohoo!
Jack’s should definitely tour with a violinist- I have a recommendation- me! haha