With cookie-cutter punk-lite, rap-rock and numetal flooding the market with teen-angst machismo trips and woe-is-me, “the suburbs are just too hard to bare” rants it is not surprising that many feel rock is ready for a memorial service. Luckily, somewhere between L.A. and San Diego, a few guys too young to even buy a beer decided that the music they loved from decades past, artists such as Elton John and Billy Joel, needed to be updated with some modern rock sensibilities and brought to the adolescent masses drowning in a cesspool of tuneless screaming.
Here’s the skinny: Something Corporate hail from Orange County, California. Two years ago, SC members Andrew McMahon (lead vocals, piano), Josh Partington (guitar), Bill Tell (guitar), Clutch (bass) and Brian Ireland (drums) were a garage band and seniors in high school. A year ago, the five friends were creating a buzz around Southern California with inspired sets at clubs such as Chain Reaction. Their piano-driven rock caught the attention of the folks at punk label Drive-Thru, who, after watching the boys perform in their garage, offered them a deal. Next, a six-song EP, Audioboxer, was cut and within months the youngsters’ single, penned by McMahon, “if yoU C Jordan” became a smash on monster L.A. radio station KROQ and is now heard across the country and Europe (the location of SC’s last tour leg) on radio and MTV.
Front man McMahon was in Miami earlier this week working on the final mix of SC’s upcoming debut LP, Leaving Through the Window, which is slated for a May 21 release.
The interviewed was scheduled by his publicist at the un-rock star hour of 10 a.m. Monday morning and McMahon sounded a bit groggy when he answered the phone in his Miami hotel.
“South Beach is a happening place,” muttered McMahon with a wry chuckle. In spite of his recent run of success, the 19-year-old sounds completely undaunted and focused solely on his music. He said he has his girlfriend to thank for stopping him from indulging in rock vices such as groupies and the wild lifestyle.
“(She) keeps me honest,” said McMahon.
McMahon has always been very driven when it comes to music. At a young age he began teaching himself the piano.”I just kind of started teaching myself when I was in fourth grade and then started taking classical lessons for sixth and seventh grade,” said McMahon.
Before long, McMahon was using songwriting as an emotional outlet – an outlet that has provided him the opportunity to live out every teens’ fantasy.
“It’s kind of like watching Almost Famous, the kid on the road, you feel so excited for him, you know what I mean?” mused McMahon with the type of refreshing enthusiasm that fades with age. “I get to cruise around the world with four of my best friends and play music. It’s a pretty ridiculous thought.”
McMahon speaks highly of his female partner and sounds pretty sure that her constant support outweighs having a different girl in every town.
“One of my friend’s statement is, ‘Don’t bring sand to the beach,'” jested McMahon. “The whole groupie thing is… kind of having someone to keep me from going there is probably a better thing than not.”
Although Audioboxer includes a broad range of songs including smart, string-laden ballads about unrequited love such as “Walking By,” for now, the vindictive, crunching single, “if yoU C Jordan,” is what SC is most closely associated.
“I wrote that song a year before we recorded it, and by that point the whole thing was over,” explained McMahon. “It was a joke at that point, and I had no hard feelings toward the kid.”
It may just be a joke to him now, but when McMahon stormed home to pen the tune several years ago, it was no laughing matter.
“There was tense animosity there when I wrote it,” said McMahon. “I know it sounds really cheesy to say this, but I wrote it more as a coping thing. I was so frustrated. I’ve never been challenged to a fight in my entire life. I went in my garage and wrote this thing in like 15 minutes. I basically just took a piss with the song,” said McMahon with a laugh.
Even though the last lines of his current single are: “F– Jordan you make me sick, high schools over, I don’t care if you die / Your hair, you’ll always be a little redhead bitch;” McMahon said that in spite of his harsh lyrics, machismo driven rock is really not something he particularly enjoys or identifies with.
“It would be hard not to call that song aggressive testosterone rock,” admitted McMahon before sheepishly revealing his lack of overt masculinity.
“But, it’s like, listen to me, I can’t sound like I have testosterone,” said McMahon, laughing. “It’s like, I sound like such a clown when I sing that song.”
McMahon is happy to see music moving away from angry shouting and be a part of a new movement back towards melodic tune crafting and genuine singing.
“I love that music is coming back around to melody,” said McMahon. “That’s why I’m excited to be on the radio right now because I think I’m in really good company.”
With a growing fan base on both sides of the Atlantic thanks to support from numerous radio stations, the mega-influential power of MTV and a anticipated debut LP ready for the streets in May, McMahon’s future could not appear much brighter.
“It’s a really, really lucky place that were in,” said the delighted 19-year-old.
Something Corporate will perform Saturday at Coachman Park in Clearwater for 97x’s Freebie Weebie concert. Gates open at noon an admission is free. Other acts on the bill include Trik Turner, Unwritten Law, Moth, Big Sky and Phantom Planet.