Jack’s Mannequin to cruise into the OmniWritten by Vicki L. Kroll | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Andrew McMahon of Jack’s Mannequin spends a lot of time behind the wheel. While working on the band’s new disc, the piano-playing frontman wasn’t happy with the songs, so he jumped in a car and drove across the country.
“It’s funny; it’s happened twice now,” McMahon said of his interstate forays. “I laugh because the second Jack’s Mannequin record, ‘Glass Passenger,’ sort of had a similar — well, actually, it probably was a little more of a meltdown when I left that time.
“This time I had got through making a good amount of the album already and hit this moment where I wasn’t sure it sounded like I wanted it to sound. I don’t know if it was a freakout as much as it was a realization: OK, I’m going to need to redo a lot of this and start over.
“And I think I used that road trip as a point to step away from music and listen rather than play, and just travel and build some strength for what was going to happen, which was I was going to come back and start over.”
After logging more miles, the singer-songwriter took a different approach to the forthcoming “People and Things.”
“I just liked the idea of recording a record that felt really natural and that was rooted in performances rather than doing it all in such a rigid sort of studio environment,” he said during a call from a tour stop in Wichita, Kan. “I came home and taught the rest of the band these songs, and we just went in and played them.
“I like to say at the core of each of these songs is this foundation of three dudes in a room playing these songs.”
Fans can hear some of the new tunes when Jack’s Mannequin appears at the Omni July 6. Tickets are $20.50 in advance and $25 day of for the all-ages show. Doors open at 6 p.m. Steel Train and Lady Danville will open.
One of the new songs McMahon, guitarist Bob Anderson, drummer Jay McMillan and bassist Mike Wagner are playing is “Racing Thoughts.”
“A lot of this record I like to think of as a relationship record,” McMahon said. “I avoided the subject of love and relationships [on the last disc]; I was newly married, and I think I sort of struggled at that moment to figure out how to talk about being a married guy in the context of a pop song.
“That became the strength of this material was to really have an honest conversation about deep love and how it can be amazing and how it can be really tricky. And ‘Racing Thoughts’ is definitely an example of that; it’s about one of those fights where you get in your car and you start driving and you don’t know when you’re going to drive home.”
McMahon knows uncertainty. He was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia in 2005 when Jack’s Mannequin’s debut, “Everything in Transit,” was released. Thanks to a successful stem cell transplant, he recovered.
“I think after the first big ordeal, the being sick and all of that, to not get through any of the other stuff that follows seemed like it would have been to have done that in vain,” he said. “So you’re just like anybody; you just kind of push forward, keep your chin up, and try to live a good life.”
“I love to write music first and foremost because it satisfies my soul.”