This interview was written in August and done through e-mail, completed Tuesday, September 26, 2006 by Andrew McMahon of Jack’s Mannequin.
1. Your record sports a Parental Advisory sticker, what does the use of profanities contribute or detract from your music?
I write what is in my heart. If a profanity surfaces in a lyric and I feel that it is the most honest illustration of what I’m trying to say at the time I use it. My concern is creating honest art not albums free of little black warning labels.
2. I have read your blog every chance I have gotten over the past year, and you posted about the one-year anniversary of your diagnosis with Leukemia. Looking back on that time in your life, what elements of your battle, if any, would you have approached differently? Would you have made any different decisions with Jack’s Mannequin?
I try and live a life free of regret. There are always things we would approach differently if we had the insight of their effects on the future, but as that is not a luxury any of us are granted I do my best to approach each day with passion, live it to the fullest and leave it behind me.
3. From Something Corporate to Jack’s Mannequin your appearance changed quite a bit, you went from curly blonde hair to short and dark, it also seemed like the topics of your songs changed to a bit darker of a tone, do these two things correlate at all?
Towards the end of Something Corporate’s run I was in a state of arrested development. I felt like a hamster on a wheel pandering to everyone else’s needs but my own. When I came home I was exhausted and the quickest way to establish my freedom was to ditch the hair and the glasses and start fresh. I was ready to grow and stop living within the boundaries that I felt had been erected around me. As far as the sound difference I find that assessment interesting, as I think the Jack’s record is considerably more upbeat and hopeful than “north”, the most recent soco effort.
4. You control the musical future of Jack’s Mannequin, obviously, when in Something Corporate there were 4-5 who controlled the direction of the band, is there anyone whose opinion of JM that you would trust more than your own? Or should I say, you might compromise your opinion for their opinion?
First of all something corporate has four governing members not five and as far as Jack’s is concerned it is important to me that I maintain a very pure and personal approach to the crafting of the songs. I of course listen to surrounding opinions as I don’t think anything great can be created in a vacuum, but I prefer to keep the input limited to a very close and select group of artists.
5. Last summer at the Warped Tour JM had a booth following the tour where fans could write you letters, how many of those did you read? What impact did they have on you?
The impact was huge. When you are that sick just having a friend show up and sit with you for the afternoon can brighten your whole day. When thousands of people are sending you amazing and heartfelt letters it is so powerful and so motivating. Reading them personally was hard as my sight was greatly affected by the drugs i was treated with, but my family and friends were constantly passing along the kind words from the tour and for those fans I am forever grateful.
6. I read that you paid for the first production of the JM album out of your own project, was starting JM like starting over new, or did your fame in SOCO play a role?
I did not have a label for the majority of the Jack’s recording, so yes I was forced to pay the expenses out of pocket. In some ways it was like starting over, but really it was more like therapy. I wrote the songs because I was moved to write….a lot. I had made enough money from my days with Something Corporate that I was willing to spend it to create something that was pure and that spoke so directly to my passion for what I do, which is write songs.
7. Sent in from one of our readers: Do you speak any other languages?
I used to be pretty good with spanish, but lack of study and fewer trips across the border have not helped me gain much ground. One day I’d love to live in a spanish speaking nation and become fluent.
8. The amount you tour has increased exponentially over the last few months, how close to 100% are you feeling these days?
For the most part I feel 100%. I would be lying to say doing the headlining shows have not made me aware of some of the effects of my treatments. My lung capacity took quite a hit from the radiation and my legs are a lot weaker than they used to be. I’m doing my best to condition myself to a point where I will no longer notice, but that kind of training will have to wait until I have a bit more time at home to focus.
9. Tell me about the Dear Jack Foundation.
Simply, it’s a foundation I started to help appropriate money to charities that are making an impact on the research and awareness of Leukemia, Lymphoma and other blood diseases.
10. Can you tell us anything about the Dark Blue video?
Watch it! it’s cool. And if you have time vote for it on the video networks so more people will hear about the band.
11. Any last comments?
Thanks to my awesome fans for sticking with me for so many years. It’s been incredible being on tour and meeting kids who are in college now who have been seeing my shows since the were in middle school. What an honor. I am very lucky.