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When Andrew McMahon broke away from his wildly successful band Something Corporate to pursue a small side project, Jack’s Mannequin, he had no idea which turn his life was about to take.
While touring to promote the group’s debut album, Everything in Transit, McMahon was forced to cancel a series of shows after learning that at just 22-years-old, he was facing a battle with leukemia. The album peaked at No. 37 on the Billboard 200, while McMahon fought and won against his illness.
The album that followed, The Glass Passenger, diverted from his usual message of love and lightness, instead focusing on the darker period of time surrounding his difficult period of recovery — something he is happy to be past. Now, McMahon is ready to release People and Things, a third and possibly final album for the group, marking a return to normalcy and a new chapter in the musician’s life.
“People and Things, in a lot of sense, is a record about the other stuff that was going on when I was writing Glass Passenger,” he tells The Hollywood Reporter. “I think that along the way, there were personal relationships in my life that probably suffered at the hands of me focusing so closely on my recovery.”
“I sort of look at this as the finishing of a three record installation,” he notes. “My goal, really, was to make one Jack’s Mannequin record. I had no intention to make a second, really. It was sort of this project that due to the circumstances that ended up surrounding that first record, that it spun out into this other thing.”
Led by the upbeat love song “My Racing Thoughts,” McMahon found it important to include one track on the album in reference to “the elephant in the room.” Though “Hey Hey Hey (We’re All Gonna Die)” was believed to be originally slated for The Glass Passenger, McMahon explains that the song was not quite finished until one crucial tour stop.
“It was a song that I wrote half of and it was — I don’t know — it was something I was afraid to say,” he admits. “I think there’s a sort of implication of being past that experience within the song that I don’t think was totally honest at that moment. I wanted it to be true, and I wrote it in this period of time where I was very much in denial about where I was emotionally with my recovery.”
“I finished it while I was touring The Glass Passenger,” he continues. “We came back through one of the venues that I had played on that first tour, right before I found out I was sick, and I wrote that third verse… and it just seemed appropriate somehow, I don’t know why.”
Overall, McMahon says that the record’s theme is a continuation of the tone set by “Racing Thoughts.” Seemingly a reflection of his married life, McMahon returns to the thoughtful, honest and love-centered lyrics fans grew to know him by.
“There’s a lot that’s said on ‘Racing Thoughts’ that gets developed throughout the album,” he explains. “There’s a reason it’s first. It was definitely the first song that I wrote that kind of jogged me into the thought process, and the theme of where I was heading with the album.”
Watch the rest of McMahon’s THR interview in the clip above, and see an exclusive acoustic performance of “My Racing Thoughts” below. People and Things hits stores Tuesday, Oct. 4 via Warner Bros.
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