Massachusetts-born and New Jersey/Ohio-raised, McMahon began playing piano by ear at age 9, which led to songwriting and eventual lessons. As a high schooler in the Columbus suburb of Bexley, McMahon formed his first group, won a local band talent contest, recorded a solo demo when his band dissolved and started his next band, Something Corporate. The blazing Indie Rock quintet, fronted by McMahon and his driving keyboard style, self-released a full-length demo in 2000 in their senior year, resulting in a Drive-Thru Records contract. Something Corporate’s first label release, Audioboxer, sparked interest from MCA, Drive-Thru’s distributor; their major label debut, 2002’s Leaving Through the Window and its 2003 follow-up North, were commercially and critically acclaimed.
When Something Corporate went on hiatus in 2004, drained after months of non-stop touring, McMahon took the song “Locked Doors,” which he felt was too different to be a Something Corporate song, and built a new solo project around it. Dubbed Jack’s Mannequin, McMahon produced three albums in that configuration, eventually shuttering the concept in 2012 with a series of shows that became the group’s swan song release, Live at the El Rey Theatre.
During that stretch, McMahon battled leukemia, started the non-profit the Dear Jack Foundation as a cancer research fundraising tool and filmed a documentary about his experience.
Before the El Rey shows, McMahon hinted that Jack’s Mannequin was being phased out, and shortly after began work on music under his own name. His first solo EP, The Pop Underground, was released in 2013; that same year he wrote three songs for the second season of NBC’s Smash, one of which was nominated for an Emmy. In 2014, McMahon announced the addition of “In the Wilderness” to his solo identity, which was followed by his self-titled debut in that form.
His latest Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness album, Zombies on Broadway, was released last month, maintaining his stylistic trend of anthemic Killers-esque Indie Rock blended with melodic Owl City-tinted Pop. Whether in the boardroom, the display window, the wilderness or on Broadway, Andrew McMahon has something for most musical tastes.