Music can take you on a journey, and for Andrew McMahon from Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness, that journey began when he learned to play the piano at age 9. Now at 33, he has his biggest hit yet with “Cecilia and the Satellite.” He took some time out to chat with us in Downtown Miami.
It’s one of those songs you just can’t get out of your head. Andrew McMahon has always had a dedicated fan base, but a breakout hit like this was a long time coming.
Chris Van Vliet: “Fifteen years in now, and you’ve got your biggest hit with ‘Cecilia and the Satellite.’ Does it feel like, ‘finally?'”
Andrew McMahon: “Yeah, it does. Truthfully it does. I think that having a song that transcends all of these genres and different demographics and everything, and actually, connecting with so many people has always been a goal of mine, but I’ve tried my hardest never to be wanting radio so badly that I compromise on my sound.”
The song is deeply personal. He wrote it about his daughter Cecilia a month before she was born.
Andrew was one of the iconic voices of the early 2000s pop punk scene as the front man of the bands Something Corporate and Jack’s Mannequin.
But in 2005, Andrew had to put music on hold when he was diagnosed with leukemia. Doctors caught it early, and he made a full recovery.
Andrew McMahon: “It certainly shaped my 20s, in some ways more positively than others. I definitely had a period in my life where I was raging against what had almost been the life that was taken from me.”
His band, Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness, just kicked off a 35-city tour with Panic at the Disco and Weezer.
Andrew McMahon: “To say that Weezer didn’t play a huge role in my early life as a musician would be a total lie. My second band was a Weezer/Green Day tribute band called Tweezer.”
Now, you won’t hear any of those tribute songs on this tour, but you will hear Andrew’s new single, called “High Dive.”
Chris Van Vliet: “For those that haven’t seen you play, you play piano…”
Andrew McMahon: “I abuse the piano. No, there are some pretty great piano players that I stole most of my tricks from — Jerry Lee Lewis, Ben Folds, Billy Joel, to name a few. I try to take the stately nature of piano playing out of it so people can see the piano as a rock ‘n’ roll instrument just like any other.”
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