Breaking: Jack's Mannequin

October 22, 2008 12:31 PM ET

Who: Jack's Mannequin, the SoCal quartet fronted by piano player Andrew McMahon (formerly of pop-punkers Something Corporate) whose second album The Glass Passenger has already scored a top-ten debut.

Sounds Like: Known for his intimate lyrics — the band's debut record aired the details of a break-up with a long-term girlfriend — Passenger tracks McMahon's life following his 2005 Leukemia diagnosis and blends sunny Beach Boys pop with stout piano rock. McMahon adds he was "hugely inspired" by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers and Tegan and Sara's The Con, which can be heard on the anthemic "American Love" and the layered orchestration of "Annie Use Your Telescope."

Vital Stats:

• When an uncle passed away while McMahon was in the fourth grade, the musician's first brush with death had "a brutal impact" on him. After a friend's dad taught him to play his first song on piano — Jerry Lee Lewis' "Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin On" — McMahon penned his first songs in memory of his relative. Though being a piano player on tour provides its share of logistical difficulties, McMahon says he's never thought about switching his instrument. "It sounds crazy, but as soon as I put my hands on a piano, I knew it was meant to be."

The Glass Passenger's title is drawn from a song that didn't make it to the record, the bluntly named "Hey Hey We're All Gonna Die." McMahon says was a reflection of his fragile state in the days before his diagnosis. Though he considered the rest of the song a misdirected lost cause, the lyric "Keep your eyes on a wheel/ I'm a glass passenger" stayed with him.

• Since he was diagnosed with Leukemia shortly before Everything in Transit's release, McMahon was only able to provide that album with minimal promotion. "The fans took it up as their cause, and they — not me — introduced the world to Jack's Mannequin," McMahon says. To thank them, McMahon and his band are currently on the road premiering The Glass Passenger in intimate clubs. "We wanted to debut the record in rooms with the people who carried me through the last record and made it possible for it to have a life," he explains.

Hear It Now: The Glass Passenger is in stores now, and Jack's Mannequin is on the road playing the full album each night in intimate clubs across the U.S. Click above for an interview with McMahon and to watch the video for the record's first single, "The Resolution."

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