Coachella Band Preview: Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness

10 days til Coachella! Yes I said it. It’s almost here. I fly out in a little over a week and the anticipation is killing me. I’m beyond stoked. I’ll probably have one more festival blog post between now and then, but this is it. Home stretch. If you haven’t been listening to any of the bands playing the festival, now is the time to cram. This band I’m about to preview is one of those smaller festival sets that you might not have heard of yet. Maybe you have though. If you’re like me and grew up with the punk/emo/indie/alternative scene in the early to mid-00’s, you may very well know the name of this guy who is responsible for Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness. His name is Andrew McMahon (duh).

Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness is the solo project of former Something Corporate and Jack’s Mannequin front man, Andrew McMahon. Compared to both of those bands Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness sounds a lot like Jack’s Mannequin’s pop rock, piano rock style but with a slight indie sound as well (Something Corporate was more pop punk). Even though the sound is similar to Jack’s Mannequin, the lyrics represent a different time period in this artist’s life. Jack’s Mannequin songs were more about breaking free, dealing with the struggles life brings, and then rising above them. Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness’s first single “Cecelia and the Satellite” is about McMahon’s daughter who was born in February 2014. The music in this new band is a lyrical progression of his life. The band’s debut self-titled album was just released in October (2014). McMahon has since been playing venues around the country in promotion of his new band and album. He’s also playing a bunch of festivals and events this summer with a few solo dates mixed in. To get a full history on this new project though, you really have to understand where he started.

Vocalist and pianist, Andrew McMahon, along with bassist, Kevin Page, drummer, Brian Ireland, and guitarists, Josh Partington and Reuben Hernandez (later replaced by William Tell) formed Something Corporate in 1998. Through their time as a band the group released three albums, Ready… Break (2000), Leaving Through the Window (2002), and North (2003). By 2004-2005 the pop-punk band decided to go on hiatus with a promise that the break wasn’t an end to the group (the band played a few shows together at various times since their hiatus began and had a reunion tour in 2010 but did not release any new material since North). During the break, McMahon took the time to work on his side project Jack’s Mannequin, but life had other plans for the musician.

While on tour in 2005, McMahon woke up one morning with an inability to speak, so he went to the doctor to get checked out. After getting some tests done, McMahon was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. He was 22. That summer tours were cancelled and he went through intense cancer treatments. The day Jack’s Mannequin’s debut album, Everything in Transit, was released, McMahon received a stem cell transplant from his sister Katie. The album sold 25,000 copies in its first week. By December, McMahon had made a full recovery and played his first show in 6 months. Jack’s Mannequin released two more albums The Glass Passenger (2008) and People and Things (2011), but by 2012 McMahon was ready to close the door on Jack’s and that time period of his life.

Now flashback to late 2003 when I still listened to the radio and pop music. I was a freshman in high school and had yet to hear of bands like Dashboard Confessional, Brand New, and Taking Back Sunday. One of my friends told me about this song I should listen to that she heard about from this boy she liked for several months called “Punk Rock Princess” by a band called Something Corporate. I listened and got into the song for the sake of my friend. Sometime after that though, within the next year to be precise, I really started listening to Something Corporate. Sure it might have been after the whole Dashboard discovery, but still. I purchased Leaving Through the Window and fell in love with songs like “Hurricane” (one of my favorite songs of all time), “Cavanaugh Park”, and “I Woke Up in A Car”. I got North around fall/winter of 2004 and fell more in love with the band with songs like “She Paints Me Blue”, “Ruthless”, “21 and Invincible”, and “Space”.

When Warped Tour announced in 2005 that they were coming to my area, I had all intentions of going. I had heard about the festival for the past year and was super excited to be able to experience it. I was even more excited when I found out Something Corporate was on the tour and playing my date. Unfortunately, that was 2005, the same year McMahon was diagnosed with leukemia and SoCo cancelled their Warped Tour dates. I was bummed because Something Corporate played a show near me in the spring of 2005, but I had missed out on it. That summer at my first Warped Tour, I remember there was a Jack’s Mannequin merch table that I guess stayed on the tour after SoCo announced they wouldn’t be playing. It was promoting the new album due out a few weeks later (my date was in early August). I ended up buying a t-shirt from them. I also bought Everything In Transit upon its release and loved it (although not as much as those SoCo albums). Three years later I finally saw Andrew McMahon perform as part of the annual spring concert at my college. He was still with Jack’s Mannequin, but of course the show didn’t go without a few Something Corporate songs. After that, I really didn’t follow Jack’s Mannequin or Andrew McMahon as much. Only within the last year when Andrew began touring with his new band did I find out what he had been up to.

Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness plays both Saturdays at Coachella 2015. Seeing this new Andrew McMahon band at Coachella would be another case of nostalgia for me (like with Brand New). However, since the opportunity to see him again has presented itself, I may as well take advantage of it (just like I hopefully plan on doing with Brand New). If other bands I want to see play at the same time, I might have to pass. If not though, I’ll definitely be at the Andrew McMahon set. I’m guessing the set won’t just be songs off the self-titled album either. There will probably be some Jack’s Mannequin and Something Corporate songs thrown in the mix. I’ll cross my fingers for “Konstantine” (one can only hope). I have listened to his new stuff though and it’s good so either way I know I’ll enjoy it. If you check him out, hopefully you will too (even if he is a dad now and doesn’t still spell confusion with a “k”).

Song recommendations:

1. Cecelia and the Satellite

2. Canyon Moon

3. High Dive

4. Halls

5. Black and White Movies

(Just in case you really want to be prepared…Something Corporate recommendations:

1. Hurricane

2. Space

3. Konstantine

4. The Astronaut

5. I Woke Up In A Car

AND…. Jack’s Mannequin recommendations:

1. The Mixed Tape

2. Holiday From Real

3. Dark Blue

4. Bruised

5. Kill the Messenger)

 

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