Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness
with Allen Stone
Saturday, July 1, 2017
Within a year of releasing his breakthrough gold single "Cecilia and the Satellite," singer/songwriter Andrew McMahon headed to New York City and found himself overwhelmed with new inspiration. "I'd write all day and then go out at night and experience the city in a way I never had before," says McMahon, who's lived in Southern California for over two decades. The songs took on the mood of what my life felt like in that time, everything from a beautiful sense of celebration to being completely exhausted and wondering when I was going to come up for air."
Zombies on Broadway, the second album from Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness echoes that emotional scope with a selection of songs both powerfully life-affirming and closely attuned to everyday tension and pain. The album's brightly textured alt-pop builds off the anthemic yet nuanced sensibilities shown in McMahon's 2014 eponymous debut, revealing a new level of sophistication and insightfulness within his songwriting. And thanks to McMahon's intimately detailed storytelling and knack for crafting transportive melody, Zombies on Broadway ultimately creates the feeling of being wholly immersed in the kinetic energy of New York City.
While Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness came to life in the tranquility of Topanga Canyon, creating Zombies on Broadway in the heart of New York City proved just as conducive to the soulful reflection that shapes McMahon's songwriting—and to the profoundly infectious joy that infuses so much of the album.
Mainly produced by Gregg Wattenberg (A Great Big World, Goo Goo Dolls), Zombies on Broadway was also made in collaboration with producer/songwriters such as Jake Sinclair (Sia, Matt Nathanson) and Tommy English (BØRNS, Ladyhawke). For McMahon, forging those new creative partnerships went a long way in expanding his artistry and charting new sonic terrain throughout Zombies on Broadway. "I've spent most of my career writing in a room alone," McMahon points out. "For this album it was exciting to work with other people and push my creative process, and really discover what could grow from that."
Raised on the East Coast and in the Midwest, McMahon began writing songs at age nine, drawing inspiration from singer/songwriter/pianists such as Elton John and Billy Joel. While still in high school, McMahon co-founded an early incarnation of pop-punk band Something Corporate, whose 2002 major-label debut hit No. 1 on Billboard's Top Heatseekers chart. In 2004, he formed Jack's Mannequin and then—on the cusp of releasing the band's 2005 debut—was diagnosed with leukemia at age 22. Eventually fully recovering, McMahon went on to release two more studio albums with Jack's Mannequin, in addition to composing songs for the NBC series Smash (an endeavor that earned him an Emmy Award nomination in 2013) and established The Dear Jack Foundation one of the first Adolescent and Young Adult (AYA) specific cancer foundations which advocates for and supports initiatives that benefit AYAs diagnosed with cancer.
In 2014, he released Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness which featured the gold certified single "Cecilia and the Satellite" a Top 5 hit across both Alternative and AAA radio, Top 10 hit at Hot AC and also climbed up the Pop chart. McMahon lives in Los Angeles with his wife of 10 years Kelly and their daughter Cecilia, for whom the hit song was penned.
On his third full-length album, Radius Deluxe, soul artist Allen Stone proves himself deeply devoted to making uncompromisingly soulful music that transcends all pop convention. Made in collaboration with Swedish soul singer/songwriter/phenom Magnus Tingsek, Radius captures the warm energy of that creative connection and transports the listener to a higher and more exalted plane.
Radius marks the follow-up to the Chewelah, Washington-bred 28-year-old's self-released and self-titled 2011 sophomore effort that climbed to the top 10 on Billboard's Heatseekers chart. As the New York Times recently said Stone's lyrics "promise honest sentiments, grooves built with physical instruments and a gospel-rooted determination to uplift ... glimmers of Al Green, Bill Withers, Curtis Mayfield, George Clinton, Prince and a bit of Sting."
Along with immersing himself in a songwriting approach that involved unflinching examination of "some very dark and negative moments in my life," Stone shaped the sound and feel of Radius by pushing himself to "get past the boundaries of what I felt comfortable with, so that I could progress into a whole new level of creativity." Despite that sometimes-daunting process, Radius wholly reveals Stone's easy grace in blending everything from edgy soul-pop and earthy folk-rock to throwback R&B and Parliament-inspired funk.
Culled from several dozen songs penned through a year and a half of constant writing and refining, Radius Deluxe bears a title that reflects both its scope and intimacy.
For Stone, all that time onstage went a long way in preparing him for the many creative breakthroughs he's made on Radius.
"I think you really grow as a musician when you're playing right in front of people, and for me constantly growing and progressing and getting better is really the most important thing," he says. Ruminating on the emotional undertones of his new album's title and noting that, "the center of me is my heart," Stone says he also hopes that Radius will ultimately help listeners shed new light on their own struggles. "There've been times in my life when records were my saving grace and really helped me to figure out who I am, and I'd love for my music to have that kind of impact on a kid who's looking for his or her own place in this life," he says. "Because I absolutely believe that if you're going to stand at a microphone and say something, you need to recognize that as a privilege. You've got to be incredibly careful about it, and really put all your heart into the message that you're sending out into the world."
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