Updated: 10/06/02
New Pic Added: 03/05/03 (see pic from The Palace above)

Something Corporate has been on the Warped Tour all summer, bringing to the punk rock masses a style of music that they may not be familiar with - namely piano rock. Made famous by such pop luminaries in the 70's as Elton John and Billy Joel, Andrew McMahon has made playing the piano in the band a cool thing again. If You See Jordan and I Woke Up In A Car are both infecting the airwaves and their debut Drive Thru release Leaving Through The Window is selling well. Everything has been coming up roses for Something Corporate because of the radio play and especially their relentless touring schedule. We recently caught vocalist/piano man Andrew McMahon at the tail end of the Warped Tour and found out what was going on in the melodic land of Something Corporate. (All pictures were taken at a free show Something Corporate performed at The Wherehouse in Fullerton.)

How has the Warped Tour been going?

The Warped Tour has been going amazing. It just keeps getting better and better. There's a little bit of a momentum out here, so it's been nice - especially in these later shows where kids kinda have the time to go out and get the record if they hear about the band knowing that we're on The Warped Tour. But the shows have just been really, really incredible. The thing about this tour I love is that it threw us into the fire and really gave us a chance to step it up to the next level. These are bigger crowds than we are use to playing to, so it's kind of nice to do it every day to figure out what works with big crowds. So it's been really fun.

Were you kind of nervous at first, playing for such a big audience?

Oh, without question. The first day of this tour was probably the most nervous I had ever been in this band - ever - to be honest. Beyond just playing to crowds of this size, Warped Tour has historically been a very punk rock tour and we are historically not a very punk rock band if you know what I mean. It's a little nerve wracking being the odd man out hoping that people are going to get what it is your trying to do. I've been so thrilled just to see how kids have actually come around and responded so positively to the music.

A friend of mine was on the first part of the Warped Tour, and he told me that someone actually dropped your piano?

Oh yeah, it happened. The piano is so big, to get it to the stage from wherever you are - wherever your bus is parked during the day - you have to get a forklift operator to drive it over. And one day, the forklift operator kind of didn't really set the forklift at an appropriate angle. He hit a bump and the piano rolled right off the front of the forklift with no case or anything. But those things are made to be beat up - obviously you've seen me play it. But it handled it pretty well.

Have there been any problems with you touring with a piano?

You run into things like stairs on occasion. But for the most part, we have it down to a science as to how and what we've got to do. Not for this tour, but when you go out and do club shows, sometimes you get to the venue and realize you are up two flights of stairs - that kind of thing can be a problem. But nothing that's even stopped us from using it.

What has been the best part and worst part of touring so far?

The best part I would say has been going out and getting to meet and make new fans. The worst part - it gets tiring in the sense that you don't get to see your family, your friends, your girlfriends or whatever. I think that aspect of it can be the most difficult - but at the same time, if there wasn't a downside to what we do, it would be 100 percent euphoria the entire time. So it kind of does bring you down to earth a little bit - when you realize that there are definitely things to miss by being out on the road.

Are you surprised at how successful If You See Jordan has become?

Honestly, yeah, completely. I don't know if a lot of people know, but the whole reason we put that song on the EP is because we never intended it to be another but a little schticky track that we have a good time playing live. We wanted to get it out there because we love to do it in the show. In context, I think it makes sense for the band, but when you pull it out of context and out it on the radio, I don't know if it's neccesarily the best representation of what we do as a band. Yeah, it was definitely surprising. Radio kind of discovered the song and started playing it without any actual label push - which is very rare in radio. But at the same time, I'm kind of glad. I think it kind of helped us make a lot of fans without really alienating them with the radio, because it never really got to that level with Jordan I don't think. Some markets played it more than others, but I don't think it ever got to that point where you're like "Oh God, I just don't want to hear that song again!" I think we lucked out and it helped us sell quite a few records and go out and play shows and actually have people show up. So surprised, I'm definitely surprised but happy with what it's done and I couldn't be more thrilled.

So who is this Jordan character that you're writing about?

He's just this kid that I kind of got into a brawl with over one summer right after I graduated high school. It's pretty self-explanatory. It's a true story. I definitely make him out to be worse than he is - under the circumstance I thought he was a real asshole but at the same time he's a good guy. I think he could have written the exact same song about me. It's just I was the one with the piano.

Do you think he's heard the song?

Oh, he has - I know he's heard it. I have friends who have been with him when he's heard it. He knows it's out there for sure, but he hasn't really responded to me flat out. I hear little things back and forth, but I think he knows that it's not meant to take him down. I think he's probably encountered a couple of interviews where I make very clear that it really wasn't meant to be anything more than a joke, so hopefully he knows that.

Is his real name Jordan?



Yeah, yeah I know. I tend to be pretty honest when I write. It gets that way some times.

What was that idea for the song I Woke Up In A Car?

We're all really exciting to be having it on radio again. Whereas Jordan, we were kind of like "Wow, I can't believe this is on radio." With this song, it's not that we think we deserve it or something, but we're definitely really excited to go out and support it as a single. It was one of those things - you kind of have these moments out when you're touring. You see certain things that you just wish you could capture. I'm not one to really write on the road. We got back from our first US tour and there were just so many great things that happened and so many cool cities and things that really kind of blew our minds about people being fans of our music when we no more than a few months prior to that tour had ever released any record on a record label. When I got home, I had a few days and I just sat down and started writing these memories in that song and ended up finishing it while we were in pre-production for the record. And I'm just so glad that it came about the way it did. I think it was exactly what I wanted that song to be, which was a really poignant travelogue of what our first tour was like.

So have you ever kissed a Drunk Girl?

Yeah, well that's a true story too. That's another one of those schticky songs that are true and that's how it came about. I just wrote about what happened for the most part.

How long have you been playing the piano?

For 11 years now.

If Something Corporate were invited to record a song on an Elton John tribute, what song would you want to do and why?

For me, it would definitely be Rocket Man - I guess for no reason than it's pretty much my favorite Elton John song hands down. There's something so poignant about that song for me - I don't know what it is, but every time I hear it, it has never lost it's affect for me.

Are you a big Elton John fan?

Yeah. For me, the really early Elton John stuff was some of my favorite stuff. Madman Across The Water is one of my favorite records and one of things that really moved me to want to use Paul Buckmaster for the string arrangements - because Paul Buckmaster arranged that entire record. And that's why we used him on our record - because I think Madman Across The Water is just so brilliant. For me though, I was more into Billy Joel as far as his whole career was concerned. I spend a lot of time listening to all the Billy Joel records.

How did you wind up getting in touch with Paul Buckmaster?

It was amazing working with him. It was just one of those industry things. You end up meeting people who know people who can get a hold of people and that's kind of how it came about - through our producer's manager or something like that. I basically said "I love the string arrangements that Paul Buckmaster does and it would be awesome to use him" more as a joke than anything. Who can get the guy who did Space Oddity or Tiny Dancer to record on their record, you know. It just seemed very far-fetched. And the next day, they had gotten a record to him - and he said that he really loved the project and wanted to do it. It was just thrilling to work with him and to actually spend time hanging out at his house writing string arrangements with him. You know, like going through ideas and working side by side with someone who is obviously not only a genius but a legend in his field without question. He brought a whole new element to the record. It kind of upped the ante I think as far as all of us - it kind of pushed us to really be the best musicians we could because we were working with probably the best musician we have ever worked with. It was pretty great.

When you first named the band Something Corporate, did you feel it might ever scare some people off?

You know, it's funny. The stakes were so low when we named the band that it never really crossed any of our minds. It's not like we had any sort of status whatsoever - we named our band the day we had our first practice in my garage. It was based on this conversation that Josh and I had. It was really just a joke the way the two words flowed - Something Corporate - it just sounded catchy. And we just named the band that and never thought about it much. We started playing shows and doing well. Then you reach a point where people start going, "Well, like maybe that's going to turn people off to your band." We were kind of like "Maybe we should think of another name." But we could never really think of another name. It just finally occurred to us, it's that whole Beatles thing - not that we're anything like the Beatles. But in the sense that what a terrible name the Beatles is. And everybody thought that name was going to hurt them. At the end of the day, it's just a fucking name, you know. And I think that if people aren't going to like us because of our name, then I don't even want them to like us. Because if they're not listening to the music enough to get past the name, then it just doesn't make a difference to me.

Who is the girl on the cover of Leaving Through The Window?

You know, it was funny. The art concept kind of came together very quickly in the sense that we knew what the inside was going to look like - but we didn't have a title up until the last week when we had to get it all done. We came up with the title and art concept. And we went through a handful of modeling pictures and found a girl that we thought, "Oh yeah, that'll do." We never really over thought it too much. We ended up being out of town when they shot it. And it was funny - she ended up being a lot hotter that we thought she was originally. She looked like one of the more ordinary girls and that's kind of how we wanted it to be. And then she ended up looking gorgeous on the cover. I mean no big deal, whatever - it wasn't offending us by any stretch of the imagination. Originally we picked her because we thought she was the most ordinary looking of the batch, and she ended up not being as ordinary looking as we thought she was.

Do have any messages for Something Corporate fans or for people who might be interested in checking out your music?

You know, just that we're doing what we like to do. And if you're interested in hearing and more than willing to check out our website and go get our record - we kind of always make it a point to let people know - especially because of the environment of music today. The way that kids are - they tend to get offended by bands who have songs on the radio, etc. For us, we want as many people listening to our music as possible. If you're willing, we're all about having you guys at our shows and going out and buying our record without a question. And we're probably going to put out an EP in the next 6 or 8 months with a song called Constantine on it, which is kind of a cult favorite of our band. I'm looking forward to recording some new music for that, so that should be cool.


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