Call it beginner’s luck: Andrew McMahon’s first foray into writing musical theatre—he penned tunes for season two of the just-canceled television show Smash—landed him a Primetime Emmy nomination, for the song “I Heard Your Voice In A Dream.” The former Something Corporate/Jack’s Mannequin singer unfortunately won’t be walking the red carpet with the rest of TV’s elite crew on September 22 (the category of awards in which he’s nominated is actually being given out this Sunday), but he’s still planning on dressing to the nines.
In fact, McMahon chatted with AP just after he picked up his suit for the big day, and talked about how he got the Smash gig, what it meant to get the Emmy nomination and what star he really wants to meet at the event.
He also gave us some insights into what he's up to musically–and what people might be able to expect from his future tunes.
Where are you right now? They said you were in the mountains, so I had to ask.
Well, I’ve actually descended the mountain. I’m in my car. I’m driving to pick up my suit from the Emmys. I just did the fitting and I’m driving out to Silver Lake to do some piano for my bandmate Joe whose wedding is next week. All of us recorded a song for their “wedding mix.” I’m doing a Beach Boys tune for him, so I’m on my way to go record that.
The perks of being a musician: Getting your talented friends to give you awesome music. That’s great.
Yeah, yeah. It’s a little funny. It is actually the song that my wife and I danced to at our wedding, so I was glad to participate.
What song is it?
“God Only Knows”
So what is this suit then? Did you have a specific designer do it? It is the Emmys, aren’t we supposed to ask that? What designer you’re going with, or something?
You know, I almost went that route, but hiring a stylist and all that shit is just so expensive, so I just went to Barney’s and picked one out on my own. I was like, “I’m just going to end up buying a suit, anyway.” You know what I mean? I’m in that phase of life where I’m going to a wedding every weekend for, like, the next five months. So, the one suit I have wasn’t cutting it anymore. It was tough.
So do you get to do the red carpet and everything too?
Well, I do, yeah. The thing is that the Emmy’s isn’t all one big event, obviously. Like the creative Emmys, which is what I’m nominated for, goes on the week before. It is the same kind of deal and there is a red carpet and all that stuff, but they air it on some obscure cable network, or something, you know? This weekend is when awards are being presented for the category that I’m in. And then the following week is when all the stars come out.
Do you have to keep it a secret for another week if you won, or does it all come out?
I don’t think so. I would imagine in this day and age trying to keep something like that a secret is virtually impossible. So, yeah, I mean we’ll get in there and they’ll be like “don’t tell anybody,” I imagine. You know, for the most part, the more kind of nitty-gritty, behind-the-scenes kind of awards are given out at this thing, I don’t know if it’d be like letting the cat out of the bag or anything if people found out.
So what has it meant to you to be nominated for something like that?
I have to be honest, it is really flattering. I didn’t ever expect that I would care much one way or another if I was nominated for an award. And certainly over the years, not being nominated has never been something that has bothered me. So, when I got the call that I had been nominated, I’m not going to lie, I was pretty giddy. To do it for something that was kind of out of my wheelhouse and a new adventure and [then to] be nominated for a thing that I did sort of out of my comfort zone is pretty flattering.
How did the entire process go that you were able to write these songs for Smash?
It is kind of a crazy story, really, My wife, when we were living in Los Angeles several years ago, worked at a lingerie store in Silver Lake and one of the friends that she made while working there was a friend of this guy named Josh Safran who was a writer for Gossip Girl originally and was brought in to write for the second season of Smash. He’d always been a fan, and we talked about doing something down the line. When this came up, he called and asked me if I’d come make some kind of a demo to go around to all of the producers to be approved as one of the writers. That was just right after I had cut the cord with management and the label and was really kind of off on my own doing whatever felt good, or whatever came my way. And sure enough, I submitted a tune and the 12 producers or whatever signed off and invited me to be a writer for the show, and that’s kind of how it all began.
What has been the biggest impact since being nominated? Do you get recognized more? Do you get more interest in doing stuff for other people?
Truthfully, since I got nominated, I was on tour and the second I got off tour, I went into seclusion into this little cabin in Topanga and I’ve just been working on music for myself. So, I don’t really know. At this point, it certainly, you know, there is a little bit of cred that goes along with it, I suppose—you know, starting to pursue other writing opportunities in other shows and films and stuff like that. It was a little bit of mood lighting in a sense. I really am more motivated now to write my best record and sort of make a statement with a full-length feature.
Oh, that is exciting.
I’m pretty excited. It’s been a pretty transformative period. I just kind of lock myself away and just focus. I can start writing some pretty amazing stuff, and I haven’t done that in a while. I have done versions of that but I really am kind of about four or five days a week in this little cabin with no cell reception or anything. And that has kind of been my world when I got home. >>>