"People and Things," the new album by the alt-rock project of Andrew McMahon called Jack's Mannequin, debuted in the top 10 of the Billboard album charts last week. McMahon, who got cancer in 2005 but lived to write an album about it ("The Glass Passenger"), performs Saturday at Seattle's Showbox SoDo.
Let’s just get it out of the way: In 2005 singer Andrew McMahon got cancer. He also lived to write an album about it (2008’s “The Glass Passenger”).
Now he’s on tour for his third album as Jack’s Mannequin, the project he started in 2004 after leaving California pop-punk band Something Corporate.
McMahon plays the Showbox SoDo Saturday, but this might be the last time he lays bare his emotional alt-rock power ballads under the name Jack’s Mannequin. Though he has a clean bill of health and a record about life after his illness, McMahon says he’s ready to start fresh.
“At this point it’s so hard for me and so hard for people to unwind Jack’s Mannequin from the circumstances that spurred its creation,” McMahon said last week, calling from a tour stop in Houston. “It’s certainly becoming where changing the conversation is pretty essential to my creativity and to my well-being.”
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That’s not to say McMahon hasn’t been creative lately. “People and Things” is a heartfelt look — with a singalong pop sensibility — at what happens when you start to settle down. McMahon got married in 2006.
“I was afraid of how do I address a life that is a little more domestic,” 29-year-old McMahon said. “It caused me to question whether I could be that and still be an artist.”
But McMahon found “a wellspring of inspiration” that he hadn’t expected in the highs and lows of married life.
“It sort of started with ‘My Racing Thoughts,’ [the album's first song],” he said, when he and his wife had a big fight and McMahon “kind of took off” — before realizing there was no place to go.
“All of a sudden you can choose to make [marriage] feel like a cage,” he said, “or you can explore that and learn more about yourself.”
And that exploration clearly resonates. The album debuted last week at No. 1 on the Billboard alternative album chart and in the top 10 (No. 9) of the overall album chart.
McMahon doesn’t quite know what his next musical endeavor will sound like. He wants to experiment while continuing to write songs that “conjure some level of emotion.”
“I’ve always found that the bigger the chances I take, the better the rewards are,” he said. “I certainly feel like I’m in that moment right now.”
Joanna Horowitz: firstname.lastname@example.org