MOOSIC — There’s no shortage of conversation topics with Andrew McMahon. Whether it’s his career-launching pop-punk outfit Something Corporate, the solo project that became a band Jack’s Mannequin or the acute lymphocytic leukemia that almost took his life and inspired him to start the Dear Jack Foundation, McMahon’s trials and triumphs are well-documented since his early 2000s debut in the spotlight.
That may be why he moved back to the coastal California town where he grew up to reconnect with friends and family.
“I started building a life outside of the industry I was caught up in for six or seven years,” McMahon said. “I would work on little things but I wasn’t actively pursuing an album at that time. I did a bunch of work for an NBC show called ‘Smash,’ I did some writing for other artists and also just did some focusing on my family and myself and trying to figure out what I wanted out of life. I sort of stripped it down to build it back up and found myself with the bug again.”
The bug buzzed around McMahon’s head until 2014, when the singer/songwriter announced a new album named after his new moniker: Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness. The stage name change was a chance for McMahon to start fresh; he described his state after finishing the third Jack’s Mannequin record, 2011’s “People and Things,” as burnt out both professionally and spiritually.
That feeling drove him into the wilderness of his personal life, from which he emerged with the songs that made up his self-titled debut; on June 26, he’ll bring those songs to The Pavilion at Montage Mountain for the opening set of Fuzz Fest. McMahon said opening on an amphitheater tour is “arguably one of the best jobs in the world.”
“You play an hour set while the sun is going down, and it’s beautiful and on this tour especially there’s been a lot of people that listen to our set, which is awesome,” McMahon said. “Sometimes you do the amphitheater shows and everybody’s in the parking lot tailgating and that hasn’t really been the case.”
McMahon compared his current string of dates to summer camp; after he finishes his set, he watches tour mates Panic! at the Disco and Weezer before getting on the bus to do it all again. As for what he’ll do at the end of summer, McMahon said it’ll be time to return to his place in the wilderness and work on LP2.
“I kind of want to continue that work,” McMahon said. “I feel like it was a process that started when the first songs were written for this record and I continued to grow and learn. I sort of didn’t stop that. I’ve been in the studio writing every time I get off the road and really trying to hone that skill set even further and develop it and make better music than what I’ve made before and just trying to grow it. That’s the next step is basically get off this tour, finish a record and put out another one.”
Reach Gene Axton at 570-991-6121 or on Twitter @TLArts
IF YOU GO
Who: Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness, AWOLNATION, Panic! at the Disco and Weezer. The Luzerne County Community College Spot Light Stage features Death Valley Dreams and Black Tie Stereo
When: LCCC Spot Light Stage bands go on at 4 p.m. Main stage show begins at 6 p.m.
Where: The Pavilion at Montage Mountain, 1000 Montage Rd., Scranton
How Much: Tickets range from $27 for lawn seating to $72 for amphitheater seating