Jack’s Mannequin

Andrew McMahon is living proof that life can dramatically change at the drop of a hat.

After his SoCal-based band Something Corporate collectively decided to call a timeout in 2004, McMahon began writing songs that eventually led to the Jack’s Mannequin solo project. A year and a half later, he assembled a band and took the project on the road.

“With Something Corporate, we had been traveling in buses for a good two and a half years, so I had gotten used to that lifestyle,” McMahon told Pollstar. “With Jack’s, it was a bunch of guys who had been touring for many years. We were like, ‘Let’s get in a van and do it DIY style.’ We thought it was a brilliant idea.”

One month into the trek, McMahon’s health started to decline and his vocals on stage started to give way. He attributed it to lack of sleep and the exhausting ins-and-outs of life on the road. After a couple of weeks trying to fight off the sickness, he paid a visit to his voice doctor in New York.

“Before he even looked at my voice, he took my blood pressure because my complexion was really shitty,” the singer/pianist said. “A day later, I was in the hospital.”

McMahon was diagnosed with acute lymphatic leukemia. Upon hearing the tragic news and realizing Jack’s Mannequin’s pending tour would have be canceled, the 23-year-old had one thing weighing heavy on his mind, his agent told Pollstar.

“All he was concerned about was if the promoter would be mad and how the fans would react,” said APA’s Josh Humiston, who still represents Something Corporate. “This was the first and only show he’s ever canceled in the four years I had worked with him. No matter how sick he was, he made every show.”

McMahon was diagnosed June 1st – the same day he put the finishing touches on the Jack’s Mannequin debut, Everything in Transit. Not knowing if he’d ever have the chance to promote the album, McMahon told Maverick Records execs to stick with the original August 9th release date. The label honored his wishes.

“What I was hearing at that time is that I would be in chemotherapy for three years and that touring wasn’t going to be an option,” he said. “There wasn’t even a certainty I was going to live. So we said, ‘Let’s put this thing out.'”

After six weeks of chemotherapy that led to a near-fatal bout with pneumonia, McMahon learned his sister was a bone marrow match. A stem cell transplant procedure quickly followed and the musician was on his way to recovery.

“It’s been a crazy ride with the kid,” Sanctuary Artist Management’s Carl Stubner told Pollstar. “As physically and emotionally hard it was on him, I think a lot of us around him were weaker than he was.”

Jack’s Mannequin

Despite Everything in Transit’s initial lack of promo and tour support, Jack’s Mannequin has picked up speed among loyal Something Corporate fans and beyond.

“During the time he was sick, more and more people read about him. He contacted his fans through the Internet,” Humiston explained. “When we went out and tested this, we didn’t know what to expect. We sold out Irving Plaza in 20 minutes and House of Blues Anaheim in about 40 minutes.”

While he was stuck in the hospital, McMahon said all he could think about was playing shows. So anxious, in fact, he didn’t even wait until he was fully recovered.

“I started to play shows before I felt better,” he said, laughing. “[Doctors] gave what they call your first 100 days after a stem cell transplant. … We booked a show on the 100-day mark.”

That day came in December when the band booked a residency at Los Angeles’ Viper Room. From there, the band slowly started playing shows around L.A., occasionally being invited to open for friends like Fall Out Boy, The Academy Is…, and Panic! At The Disco.

Jack’s Mannequin is currently on the road and will support O.A.R. on various theatre and shed dates through August. For now, McMahon says he’s only up for performing once every other day. And flying is out of the question because of potentially dangerous germs found on airplanes.

“He’s not ready to headline yet,” Humiston said. “We knew the goal was to find a tour where we could go out and do 40 minutes a night rather than 75 minutes a night.”

Fans anxiously waiting to see Jack’s Mannequin as the main attraction needn’t worry. The band is looking to do a club/theatre headline tour this fall, and has plans to visit Japan in January, the agent said.

When everything is said and done with the O.A.R. tour, McMahon says he’s going to do something he’s been wanting to do for a very long time: take a much-needed vacation to Hawaii.

“That’s been my fantasy since I was put in the hospital,” he said, optimistically. “I’ve been planning this trip to Hawaii in my brain since the day I got taken down.”