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This month Andrew McMahon hits up Aussie shores for a very special acoustic tour. The former frontman for Something Corporate and Jack’s Mannequin is ready, well, not to rock exactly, but to swoon and croon. “Swoon and croon is definitely more the speed!” he laughs. “My god, I’m so excited!”
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On this run of shows McMahon will bring his family over for the first time, something he’s been gunning to do for a while, he says, and is now finally able to share with them what he’s always loved about being here. It’s an excitement that marries with much of the sentiments McMahon carries through his ballads—a very family oriented version of the well-known musician, McMahon’s daughter, for whom he wrote his hit song Cecilia and the Satellite, is now four years old. “She is, believe it or not, four and half this month, it’s crazy, she’s getting so big—it’s strange to say the least!
“It’s awesome, she’s a great kid and fun to be around and she’s a great traveller and it’s really a joy to get to share that experience with her and my wife now out on the road, seeing what I’ve seen out here for so many years, we get to do it together.”
Naturally as he’s been out touring over the years, there’s been a change in McMahon’s style of music and his delivery. From punk rock to sombre solo, the changing landscape of what he does hasn’t changed McMahon too much. “For me, it all feels like the same thing to some extent,” he says. “I sit at the piano, I write songs, I record them, I go play them live.
“My goal is to stay stimulated and stay inspired and keep making music that speaks to where I’m at, in the moment I’m in. It’s always been remarkable for me to see how the fans that have been there from the beginning have kept coming and from doing new music and new projects, seeing new people show up and having these shows be this vibe of a familial thing.
“I grew up going to see Tom Petty and R.E.M. and Counting Crows and I always loved the diversity of those audiences, and to be at a stage in my career where I get to experience that and be playing music for a larger group of people, and many who have followed me through these bizarre iterations and life events, is very rewarding for me.”
My goal is to stay stimulated and stay inspired and keep making music that speaks to where I’m at, in the moment I’m in. It’s always been remarkable for me to see how the fans that have been there from the beginning have kept coming and from doing new music and new projects, seeing new people show up and having these shows be this vibe of a familial thing.
McMahon’s music pulls on the heartstrings at the best of times. His is a wild ride of life’s emotions, something amplified in an acoustic setting. “We just got off the road doing almost ten weeks of acoustic shows this past year and I think there’s something beautiful about stripping things back to the way they’re created, to be able to stretch out a little bit and give the fans a little background, like, this is where I was at when I wrote this song and here’s the ballad version.
“The acoustic shows we’ve been doing have an energy of introspection which I think is really beautiful when you get a bunch of people in a room and get to almost pretend it’s your living room for an evening.”
For shows like this, McMahon says he leans toward performing a lot of the songs that he still feels he connects with on a deep level, but combining recollection and nostalgia with the thoughts and reactions of not just himself but his audience, can be an overwhelming experience.
“I think the reason for that is nostalgia – not to make it totally cheesy reference – but I look at these songs and records like they’re some form of a yearbook or a snapshot of memories from certain times in my life, so revisiting them with fans who I think probably have a very similar experience, when you get on stage and get to dig into those moments and thread them with this scattershot approach of, ‘I wrote this song when I was 17, I wrote this song when I was 21,’ and so on, it starts to make a picture of life and there are definitely, and have been, moments on stage where you’re overcome by a wild memory you don’t visit on a regular basis.
“It’s another way to do it and something I was always scared to do, having spent years fronting bands. It wasn’t until the past year I said ‘I can do shows where it gets quieter, where you dive deeper into the emotion of tunes,’ and yeah I do think it can be very powerful.”
An Acoustic Evening with Andrew McMahon In The Wilderness:
Wednesday 19th September // The Factory Theatre // Sydney
Thursday 20th September // Max Watt’s // Melbourne