Andrew McMahon In The Wilderness – Across The Ocean

Andrew McMahon In The Wilderness

Andrew McMahon returns to Australia under the moniker of Andrew McMahon In The Wilderness playing shows in all major capitals. Some will remember him from bands such as Something Corporate (who toured Australia with The Offspring many moons ago) and Jack’s Mannequin. Andrew seems a top bloke talking to Across The Ocean about going solo, being more hands on with his career trajectory, becoming a father and the challenges of touring.


It’s great to be talking to you on the eve of another Australian tour, it must be great to come back for another tour?

Very much so, I’m really looking forward to it.

Do you have a lot of fond memories of your last tour here?

Yeah I do, we were out there with a bunch of good friends on the Soundwave run, I got there with my buddy Matt from Reliant K and Chris from Dashboard Confessional and was like a class reunion with a bunch of those guys that had sprung up with Something Corporate in the early 2000s. To be out on the road and playing side shows with them was pretty amazing.

Do you miss those days or is it more like pushing the refresh button and touring under your own name now?

I certainly have nostalgia for those days but I’ve never been one to want to hang out in the past as you can probably tell from starting over as much as I do. For me now it is more about making new memories about pushing forward in to the future, keeping inspired and making new music.

Is there a hidden meaning behind adding “In The Wilderness” after your name?

I don’t know if it is really hidden, for me embarking on another new project and disconnecting from the major label, the music business as it were and as I did at the end of Jack’s Mannequin it symbolised a big transition in my career. It was a mirrored transition in my personal life where I got out of Los Angeles and moved back south to the beach town where I grew up. I think a lot of the seeds of this record were planted in the spirit of an adventure and trying to do things differently ending up in a similar inspired place with new music. I think to me that sounded a lot like “In The Wilderness”.

Is this something you wish you had done sooner?

I don’t think I could have done it earlier. I think I had to go through every process and made every record I’ve made. To even realise that’s something that I’d desire, ultimately as it relates to changing labels and the music business as you know isn’t an easy business. I take it really seriously and the people I affiliate with and who puts my music out and it was one of these scenarios where every record that I put out the label changed hands almost every time even twice in the middle of making music. I wouldn’t have been able to arrive at that conclusion and gone through that process. I’m proud of everything that has come before this, it is just part of the road.

Is it a weird feeling being more hands on with everything from social media to decisions on artwork and where your music is going to get released and so on?

Initially those things were a bit scary for me especially social media as it was something that did not exist when Something Corporate started and grew in popularity as Jack’s Mannequin was getting through of our process of making our second and third record. I was pretty resistant to it like a lot of things around the transition of making this record I think I embraced the idea of being uncomfortable and putting myself in these uncomfortable places led to inspiration and they did. I embraced that as a model, the more uncomfortable I am I tend to find the more inspired I get and the more excited I get in terms of what’s to come. Initially it was a little shocking.

Were you worried about the ugly side of it?

Surprisingly, I was worried about it and I found myself more in most cases really surprised and kind of moved by how that connectivity has led to connections with fans that I have always done, experienced at a show, the extra ways to reach people has been really positive. I have been pretty lucky and I have fairly nice fans. I don’t get skewered too often, so knock on wood.

Congratulations on fatherhood, has that changed your outlook on a lot of things now?

As far as my personal life goes that has changed a lot. It certainly has added a dimension of wonder and awe that is welcome in my world. With song writing and the artistic process the biggest change I have found is that it has led to a much higher level of focus. I don’t like to waste time these days and the time I spend away from my daughter is time I like to make sure is well spent. It has really driven me to write in a more focused way and really dig in to the meat of the song and get to the heart of a song quickly in a way that doesn’t allow me to waste hours on things that don’t actually add up. I think I have a much higher level of focus now that she is here than I did before she arrived.

Does it present for a few challenges taking the whole family on tour?

They are out with me on the road for most of these tour dates, packing is a whole new nightmare and one thing I had not anticipated with having a baby how long it takes to get ready and leave the house when you have a child. I’m sticking with one for now! We’ll see how I handle that!

How happy were you with how your self-titled album faired and most give you a lot of energy when you start to plan and write your next album?

Energy is definitely the right word for it. We have been promoting this record for close to a year now and it takes a good six to eight months to connect all the dots for my audience in the past, this is the guy who made records as Jack’s Mannequin and Something Corporate. It has been a tremendous amount of work and things are starting to pay off seeing people come to shows and sing the new songs along with the old ones embracing the project in a different way has been pretty amazing for me. It was a leap of faith to do it so to see it pay off is really exciting.

Have you started working on another album yet or is it too early?

It is too early but I’m always writing all the time. In the last few months, I find I add a few layers to the writing process and you have to be unafraid and just do it. Also, not worrying about whether every song will make the record and just write the songs. As I’ve got deeper in to the process songs are now starting to pop up that really start to mean something. To some extent it will be an extension to what we did sonically but I am working with some of the best writers and producers. I’m just having so much fun working with these people who have made some of my favourite records. The sound more than anything will have this very cutting edge to it and will have a lot of these modern influences like on this record but I will push that even harder. I’m trying to get to the edge of my writing as a writer working with people who make sounds that is really exciting and fresh while focusing deeply on the lyric making sure that is the centre of everything. Without that I don’t think any stylistic approach makes any difference really.

Having so much good material is must be a good challenge to have trying to work out the set list for each show?

It’s a great problem, I think the fact is having new music is amazing and getting the chance to play, even if we play the majority of this new music it leaves us half a set to plug in songs from my past. I think revisiting those songs some get approached in new ways and others we try and leave untouched. One thing I’m proud of is and excited about is that there is so many records worth of songs now and there’s big songs on all of those records we’re able to fashion a set. You get this sense of nostalgia from these songs and then play some of these new songs you realise that they all come from the same place and have similar spirits and represents different eras of my life and career. As difficult as it can be some times to come up with a set list it does make the set rewarding so I get to walk through my life in the course of the night. It is a pretty amazing feeling.

Rob Lyon

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Rob Lyon has been writing about all things music for well over ten years in Adelaide clocking up more live shows each year seeing the best going round.

Whether it is rummaging through vinyl at record stores such as Clarity and Title finding hidden gems to scouring the internet to find that album by the next big thing or chasing bands to get that elusive autograph and photo his passion is music all the way.
Rob Lyon

Latest posts by Rob Lyon (see all)