I’ll start out this article by saying I am by no means a total die-hard fan of Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness. That would be my roommate. But the process of becoming a fan involves research which, as a writer for Odyssey, I do a lot of. For instance, lead singer Andrew McMahon has been in three bands including Something Corporate, Jack’s Mannequin, and his current band, Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness. McMahon also went through treatment for Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia (ALL) and subsequently founded a resource and advocacy group for adolescents and young adults diagnosed with cancer called the Dear Jack Foundation. Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness just released a new album “Zombies on Broadway” this past Friday which will include such hit singles as “Fire Escape”. I only cry a little bit when I hear it.
But what fandom really means is to totally immerse one’s self in the work of a certain genre or piece of cultural media. For me, it was easiest to immerse myself in the work of Andrew McMahon since I listened to Jack’s Mannequin back during my middle and high school days. This article is about the brief fandom I experienced with the lead singer of Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness last year during my alma mater Clarkson's annual Springfest.
Beginning at about 3:00 pm on the Friday of Springfest, I arrived at the Clarkson Radio Station WTSC to sit in on their exclusive interview with Andrew McMahon (cue the hype noises). Two DJ’s were interviewing McMahon including now graduated DJ Sparkles and DJ JonBoyBlanch. DJ JonBoyBlanch was a member of Clarkson's union board and experienced DJ wanting to make connections with artists both for their knowledge and the hype he gets from delving into the music industry. However, DJ Sparkles was the die-hard fan who should be writing this article if she was a better writer.
She kept her cool for the interview, asking appropriate and entertaining questions as any DJ would. But after McMahon left, Sparkles began jumping up and down, yelling enthusiastically about meeting her hero in the music industry. These DJ’s possessed the membership in the fandom because of their passion for music production and broadcasting. What I learned during the interview made me a bit of a fan too.
For instance, McMahon wrote a single “Cecelia and the Satellite” in 2014 about his daughter who is turning three years old this year. He wrote it months before she was born but is still singing about protecting and loving her years after she came into his life.
Considering his background in piano, it wasn’t surprising to learn that some of McMahon’s influences included Elton John, Tom Petty, Paul Simon, and Counting Crows. McMahon also has experience in the fandom. He grew up waiting in lines for tickets to his favorite artists’ shows. When accidentally running into Paul McCartney at Coachella, he stuttered and fumbled like any of us would.
Watching McMahon during the show, I understand why DJ Sparkles has been obsessed with his music for years. He was passionate, compelling, interactive with the audience, and swore a lot which I think gets good reception at college shows. While his music fits my taste in Alternative Rock, not everyone in the audience was a fan of his sound. But McMahon just seemed happy to be on stage doing what he loved. From a quote during the interview, “Compared to doing anything I didn’t love, I’d be miserable.”
Acccording to McMahon, being on the road is like a second home to him. And being able to perform his creations was exactly what he wanted to do with his life. I hope McMahon’s daughter will be proud of her dad when she’s old enough to know who he is and what his work means to his fans.
While this article was primarily written a year ago, it was never published elsewhere. I felt the need to share this experience since WTSC lost the recording of the interview. His new album is on its way to my house now because I pre-ordered a physical copy for my roommate. This is for McMahon and his fans who are still ever-growing and changing along with the way in which we create music. However, music interviews never change. We are all part of a fandom in that one instance.