While it’s easy to interpret the band’s newest tracks as a near-perfect documentation of McMahon’s hospital-and-recovery experience, the now 26-year-old says he didn’t write his thoughts or feelings down along the way. His focus was simply on getting through each moment. “Spiritually speaking and physically speaking, sitting down at a piano was just not a priority. What I was dealing with was so much bigger than any of that. It took every ounce of my energy just to stay positive and keep my head up and frankly, just to put a pen to a piece of paper to try to write something down—your hands didn’t work, and your eyes didn’t work. It was really more about resting and just trying to find peace, trying to be there, be quiet, be still and let the drugs work through my body. And I envisioned them working. That was really all I had energy to do at that point.”
Lucky for McMahon—and all of his fans—he got every ounce of his buzz back. So much so that he felt brave enough to take The Glass Passenger in a direction he’s never been before. “I allowed for there to be some more risks and a broader range of songs than I was accustomed to putting on records. I didn’t want to boil it down to just the 10 best pop songs in three and a half minutes. I was more inclined to let it be a real record, even if that meant there might be songs that aren’t as universally appealing to this person or that person, there would be something for everybody on it. And in that way, I think it’s one of the truest records I’ve made.” McMahon says the dynamics of Jack’s gives him plenty of musical freedom—an element which unfortunately got lost toward the end of his time with Something Corporate. And despite thousands of fans across the globe clutching onto the hope that maybe one day Something Corporate will reunite, McMahon says breaking up was the most responsible thing he could have done.
“Jack’s essentially started after we [Something Corporate] had made this trip to Australia. It had become pretty evident to me that the elephant in the room was just that; the band was not getting along like we used to and our relationships had become strained. We had discussed the idea of going on and making another Something Corporate record and truthfully, the thought of that was kind of terrifying,” he says. “We were close friends, and still are, and couldn’t really get creative with each other. It had gotten to the point where we were going to the studio and not really being totally honest about what we were hearing. We were reacting more to each other as people than we were as musicians. Rather than going and making a record when I had a feeling that our chemistry would be totally off, I started working on Jack’s. And the truth is, what I can do in Jack’s is what I did do in Something Corporate—but what eventually became what I couldn’t do in Something Corporate.”
McMahon’s insight, ambition, battle of survival, and generosity is inspirational. The Glass Passenger gives fans the rare opportunity to grab hold of the lessons he has learnt, and the moments that have touched him. On this level alone, Jack’s Mannequin strikes a huge chord. McMahon says releasing The Glass Passenger last September and touring on the heels of the band’s recent delivery has helped close that chapter of his life. “I finally feel like I’m out of it, which is great. It was certainly a trying period of time—there’s no question about it. But I think in the best way possible, it’s really [been] some version of art therapy. Playing these songs, going out and doing them live, is more of a celebration than anything. It isn’t like going and reliving it. It’s like, it’s over—let’s party.”
The Glass Passenger is in stores now. Jack’s Mannequin will be playing at The Fillmore At Irving Plaza in NYC om April 22. For more info, visit jacksmannequin.com.