Jack's Mannequin's Andrew McMahon on the End of an Era and How StubHub Sabotaged His Last Show
Sunday brings the end of an era, as Andrew McMahon kicks off his first of a two-night gig at the El Rey in L.A.'s mid-city West, the last shows he'll perform under the monicker of Jack's Manniquin.
Following the release of his 2011 album People and Things, his third and final Jack's record, McMahon parted ways with Warner Bros. Music and has since promised to release any new music under his own name instead.
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"Most people don't realize that Jack's was a solo project, and granted my band became a much bigger factor in the studio on the last two records, it's just that I'm not calling it Jack's anymore because it's attached to so much brutal history," McMahon tells The Hollywood Reporter.
Among that brutal history: McMahon's diagnosis and recovery from leukemia at just 22 years old and creative differences that ultimately led to a split from Warners.
Now cancer-free, McMahon plans to "temper" some of his darker Jack's material with songs from his first band, Something Corporate, as well as new offerings. "I'd rather just play all those songs and call it my career, not this band vs. that band," says McMahon.
"I always felt weird playing Something Corporate's songs and then Jack's Mannequin songs at the same show," he adds. "Like, that's not what this is -- it's not a Something Corporate show, you know? Now going out under my own name, most of the guys that are in my band right now will still be in my band. So the band's not breaking up, either, we're just not using the name anymore."
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The shift has been a long time coming. In fact, McMahon says he initially hoped to release 2008's The Glass Passenger -- largely an account of his struggles with cancer -- under his own name, but managers and label execs convinced him to stick it out as Jack's.
"I had people tell me, 'Jack's has got a lot of following and a lot of fan-base, are you really ready to like start over again?' And I was like, 'Yes, it worked after Something Corporate,'" McMahon remembers. "Why the f--- not try again? And if it does or doesn't work, at least I know I got out in front of my s--- and I didn't try and hide behind something. Needless to say, I feel a lot more free than I've felt in a long time. It's a good party."
But saying goodbye to Jack's hasn't been a smooth process. After announcing his final concert under the monicker, to be held at his annual Dear Jack benefit on Nov. 11 (a nod to Something Corporate's hit song "Konstantine"), a large portion of tickets were scooped up by scalpers and turned around on the eBay-owned StubHub, jacking the prices up to astronomical levels between $350 and $1,000 each, while profiting from the charity event.
"We knew it would sell out and we knew it would sell out quickly, but we didn't expect this," says McMahon, who priced his general admission tickets at $44.50 a piece. "It's like, if the fans were willing to pay $250 or more to see the show, maybe they would have instead bought a t-shirt or a poster, which all the profits would've gone back to charity."
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What McMahon and his team ultimately decided was to add a second show for Monday, allowing more fans to attend while devaluing the tickets on StubHub. For the second round of sales, buyers are required to present their ID and credit card at the venue in order to avoid scalping.
"Of course, that put me in hot water with the fans because now the last show isn't the last show," McMahon laments. "I love my fans. I try and do right by them in any instance I can, and these guys just backed me up against a wall."
But for fans still unable to make it to the shows, McMahon has arranged to have one of the concerts taped and released on DVD. Of course, those profits will go to McMahon's Dear Jack Foundation, which aims to shed light on young adult cancer.
After his final bow on Monday night, McMahon will get back writing and recording new songs with Brooklyn-based producer Mark Williams. "He's a genius," says McMahon of the 20-year-old prodigy. "We'll do three days in L.A. in a little studio off Sunset that my publisher runs, and then we'll go out to New York and do three days in Brooklyn. We've been bouncing back and forth and recording new songs."
And while fans may be waiting a little bit longer for a full-length album from the "Dark Blue" singer, perhaps they can expect more individual tracks to bide the time. (Like this one, released by McMahon on Sept. 25 via SoundCloud.)
"Look, I want to make money as much as the next guy, I would never lie about that," confesses McMahon, who turned down a huge deal from Universal at 18 years old in favor of owning his own publishing. "I'm happy getting a check, but I'm way happier to leave the studio with a full track in my hand and then, frankly, I'd give up most of the money just to do that. That's why I don't live in L.A. anymore."
UPDATE: Just hours before the show on Sunday, McMahon tweeted: " must say @StubHub came around in a big way and has committed to donating back profits their site generated from 3rd party sellers."
Email: Sophie.Schillaci@thr.com; Twitter: @SophieSchillaci