Zombies in America Tour
Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness
Atlas Genius, NIGHT RIOTS
Sat, May 6, 2017
Doors: 6:30 pm / Show: 7:30 pmThe UC Theatre Taube Family Music Hall
$0.50 of each ticket purchased will be donated to Dear Jack Foundation
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McMahon remains a versatile and vibrant singer. With emo pioneers Something Corporate, he released an EP and two acclaimed full-length albums that served as cornerstones of an entire scene from 1998 until the outfit disbanded in 2004. The catalog was celebrated with a 2010 reunion that sold out numerous dates across the states as well as appearances at Bamboozle and other festivals.
Meanwhile, Jack's Mannequin showed another side of this enigmatic songwriter, and fans and tastemakers immediately fell in love with their sound on the 2005 debut, Everything In Transit. However, 2008's The Glass Passenger established the group as a powerful presence, debuting at #8 on the Billboard Top 200 and moving over 49,000 units first week. McMahon would go on to grace the cover of Alternative Press during the album cycle, with Twilight Saga author Stephanie Meyer co-directing the music video for "The Resolution". Then, the final Jack's Mannequin release People and Things debuted at #9 on the Billboard Top 200 rounding out this unforgettable triumvirate of albums.
In the middle of it all, McMahon survived cancer, started the Dear Jack Foundation raising more than $500,000 towards research and awareness for blood disease and young adult cancer, toured the world, cumulatively sold in excess of one million records, and inspired countless people along the way.
He's still challenging himself as an artist though. On the EP, which debuted at #10 on Billboard's indie album charts, the intimate lyrics and irresistible hooks that fans have come to expect certainly abound. At the same time, he ventures into different avenues, incorporating lush synths and atmospheric electronics. It's McMahon at his most open and, simultaneously, most adventurous.
While touring in support of People and Things in 2011, he began composing songs for what would eventually become his first solo effort. "For me, it seems like one fluid breath to this moment," the singer and songwriter affirms. "Jack's Mannequin began as a solo project, but it was always intended to be conceptual and have an ending. When I got sick, I continued to tell the story that Everything in Transit had begun. Somewhere around People and Things, I felt like it was time for me to own my name. It was natural to move on to another chapter and get to be myself, so to speak."
That next chapter formally commenced in the summer of 2012. McMahon had returned from a road trip with his family, and he decided he wanted to seek out a new musical collaborator. He found Brooklyn-based producer Mark Williams, and the duo began working on songs together. Almost instantly, they tapped into an undeniable chemistry, cranking out a myriad of songs that illuminated McMahon's own evolution. In addition, he joined forces with producer Tony Hoffer [Beck, Phoenix] as well. Through this collaboration, he tapped into a vital sound.
"The thread of my writing is very much intact," he assures of the solo material. "It feels like me, but the sound has progressed. We were in an environment where we could experiment. There are pianos, acoustic guitars, and live drums, but they're melded with synths, drum programming, and sound design. We aimed to strike a balance between the electronic and the organic."
That fusion simply shimmers on the first single, "Synesthesia". In addition to drawing inspiration from his pursuit of a pilot's license, he tells a vivid personal story over an electronic hum that makes for pure pop gold.
He reveals, "I had this note in my journal that said, 'Sometimes, you're only flying for a while.' I found that to be a very true-to-life statement. I knew I wanted to write a song about flying and it merged with a concept about Synesthesia, a condition where tones heard in music produce colors for the listener.
"Learn to Dance" skips from an iridescent beat into an irresistible refrain that'll undoubtedly get listeners moving.
"I was up in Los Angeles and I ended up staying out way too late with some friends one night," he recalls with a smile. "The next day, was my first meeting with Mark and he was hell bent on starting and finishing an idea in our first session. I was hungover and reluctant but he began to play this beat and suddenly there was a spark. This was born in a natural, stream-of-consciousness. Lyrically, it's about how life repeats itself in patterns. As you get older, you realize you can make the same mistakes your parents made. You start finding forgiveness for things you encountered in the past. You watch the way life moves in circles and embrace it. You might screw up today, but tomorrow can be brighter. You've got to live in the moment."
Fans continue to find inspiration in McMahon. His story is one of triumph in the face of unthinkable odds, surviving Leukemia and releasing records at the same time. He continues to progress and move forward.
"This is about creating," he concludes. "It's not about commerce or business. It's not overthought. These songs are free, and they flow. I hope people feel that joy and release. It was cathartic to let go of all expectations and make some fast and fun music. This is who I am now, and I can't wait for everyone to hear it."
After a few months turned into two years on the road in support of their debut album, When It Was Now – after exploring distant towns in distant countries, pouring their souls out in theaters all over the world – home called. But back in Australia, the blank canvas the brothers faced reflected back two very different people from the ones who had crafted When It Was Now. In the time they had been away, they had created a new normal – built a new community, endured heartbreak, and seen the world.
"All of a sudden we're back in the same place but we're totally different people. We just couldn't stay if we wanted to challenge ourselves and take the next step.”
Full of inspiration, Keith and Michael headed to Los Angeles to record new material in the city that had sparked undeniable creative energy for so many artists before them. Home, for now, would be here, and their experience within the bright Angeleno expanse juxtaposed against the darkness of the unknown, which quickly became the through-line that would tie together Atlas Genius’ second album, Inanimate Objects.
The album is a foray into darker emotional realms of songwriter and vocalist, Keith Jeffery, as he explores relationships and experiences, past and present – a journey that maintains the catchiness and sense of melody that the band is known for while exploring the gamut of musical possibility. “It didn't make sense for me musically to write a bunch of happy, cheery pop songs. We were constantly being drawn to darker guitar and synths sounds, as well as some slower rhythms.”
This new exploration afforded the brothers the courage to experiment recklessly with sounds, techniques and genres as they traded their indie sheen for a newfound dynamism. What emerged was something brand new - an amalgamation of ambient, driving pop, punctuated by kinetic electronic beats, guitar and grimy synths.
The album’s underlying sonic current is wonderfully cohesive, but the diversity of influences and breadth of experimentation are everywhere. Current single “Stockholm” was written by Keith on a trip to Sweden, for example. “I had gone partly to write and partly to assess the state of a long distance relationship I was in. I really felt like I was drowning emotionally and needed to let myself breathe.” The musical outcome was perhaps one of the first and clearest departures from their first record. The ultimate result is a song infused with a pulsating rhythm section that reflects the ardor of the human spirit in fight.
On first single “Molecules,” their reconciliations with their own destinies are translated from swirling chaos and angst to pure danceability. “It’s a song about equality and our place in the universe. It's also about the relative scale of things. Do we really have as big of a say in our destiny as we like to think
we do? On a universal level, I would say that perhaps we don’t.”
On the other end of the spectrum is the mesmerizing earworm, “Balladino,” which harnesses frustrated energy in darker, contemplative verses which release into soaring, cathartic choruses. Keith explains: “Sometimes there are these long, unrelenting periods of darkness that we go through in life.
At times, it feels endless, yet it eventually passes. “Balladino” is about holding out hope.”
“For me,” says Keith, “each song is a tiny little intimate moment that explodes.” And that’s whatInanimate Objects is – a collection of moments that speaks to the heart of the human experience. It’s a search for hope, embrace of change, and, finding one’s home.
Frontman Travis Hawley spent five years in England before moving to a small coastal town with only one traffic light, where he met guitarists Nick Fotinakes and Matt DePauw, bassist Mikel Van Kranenburg and drummer Rico Rodriguez. Now heralded by Rolling Stone as one of the "Top 16 Unsigned Bands in North America," Night Riots are currently on tour with Young Rising Sons and have shared the stage with a diverse group of bands including Cage The Elephant, Walk The Moon, Meg Myers, OK Go, The Mowgli's, Wild Cub, Driver Friendly, Youngblood Hawke, The Front Bottoms, Angels & Airwaves and many more.
After the tremendous success of their debut EP, 'Young Lore,' and praise from the likes of Billboard, Earmilk, KCRW, MTV, FUSE, Huffington Post, KROQ, All Things Go, NYLON, AV Club and Filter, Night Riots show no signs of slowing down. Signed to Sumerian Records, Night Riots recently released 'Howl,' produced by Eric Palmquist (Bad Suns, Trash Talk, Waaves, Mars Volta). "Contagious," the EP's lead single, climbed the radio charts -- skyrocketing to #1 on SiriusXM's Alt Nation Alt 18 Countdown, and breaking into the Top 50 at Alt Radio.
The UC Theatre Taube Family Music Hall
2036 University Avenue
near Downtown Berkeley BART
Berkeley, CA, 94704