It's Time I Teach You About a Little Band Called 'Something Corporate'

Let’s take a little journey back to 2003. Life is good. Studded belts are on shelves everywhere, everyone is listening to “American Idiot,” Hot Topic marketing to nerds and Disney lovers yet. Everyone was in their scene phase because it was cool to be, and by the time I got to middle school, I would be about five years too late, which is a whole different discussion. The year previous had been full of Vans Warped Tour dates and touring with New Found Glory, but this year, Something Corporate would open for Good Charlotte, and my at-the-time-extremely-short life would never be the same.

Let’s go back to the very beginning because ~dramatic effect~. Andrew McMahon, now known for songs like “Cecelia and the Satellite” and “Fire Escape,” was just out of high school when he and his friends self recorded an album called Ready… Break in the year 2000. This led to them getting signed by Drive-Thru Records. In 2003, they would release the album North with Geffen Records. By 2004, they weren’t under contract with any label and dissolved. From here, McMahon formed the band Jack’s Mannequin, but this is not about them, okay?

This is about Andrew McMahon and his first band and my burning love for them since the age of five. Please keep in mind that they have a song with the lyrics, “I kissed a drunk girl, I kissed a drunk girl, yes I did, I kissed a drunk girl on the lips,” and I would sit in the backseat of my mom’s minivan and belt on the top of my lungs and nobody stopped me because it was too good of a song. Plus, it was probably a step up from my mom accidentally teaching me all of Lit’s album A Place in the Sun, which included songs like “My Own Worst Enemy,” so that’s that.

McMahon and his other teenage friends wrote all their music and were only active for a few years and still managed to tour with huge bands within their genre. Plus, there’s a piano. Yes. An alternative rock band, dangerously close to pop-punk/emo rock, and their frontman was jamming out on a piano, sometimes with his feet. And their songs range from full-on bangers like “Punk Rock Princess” and “If U C Jordan” to songs you can cry and mosh to at the same time like “Ruthless” and “I Woke Up In A Car” to just full on emotional wreck fests like “Konstantine” and “Walking By.”

Apart from this, I appreciate McMahon as a human being because his wife, Kelly, has known him since childhood. They were high school sweethearts who are now married and have a daughter, Cecelia, together. This makes me so happy because he deserves the best life possible, and honestly, I feel like a 14-year-old again writing this because I shouldn’t be this invested in the life of someone I don’t even know? I’m almost 23 years old?? Should I seek professional help???

Anyway, McMahon’s first album under the project Jack’s Mannequin was called Everything in Transit and it is also a masterpiece. Right before its release date in 2005, however, McMahon was hospitalized and diagnosed with leukemia. He was only 22 years old and he recorded his time in the hospital in the short documentary Dear Jack, which includes heartbreaking scenes where he lint rolls his hair off after struggling to shave his head.

On the day that the album was released, debuting at #37 of the Billboard Top 200, he also received a stem cell transplant from his sister Katie. It was successful, and he was able to perform for the first time since being diagnosed on December 2, 2005. 100 days after the transplant. McMahon became aware how little of what was donated to leukemia research actually went to helping young adults. Due to this, he decided to launch the non-profit charity, the Dear Jack Foundation.

According to the foundation’s website, cancer is the second largest cause of death in the U.S. for this generation, but there are major shortfalls in support, research, and treatment on behalf of the young adult demographic. The Dear Jack Foundation aims to provide young adults with one-on-one patient outreach and peer-to-peer group wellness programs to empower patients and survivors in healing.

Ironically, the name Jack has taken on more significance than McMahon originally intended. First wanting to name his band The Mannequins, he decided to merge this with a song he had written for his album called, “Dear Jack.” However, after being diagnosed, it took on a new life, seeing as how the song “Dear Jack” was actually named for a boy who suffered from childhood leukemia.

Anyway, I feel that my job here is way-more-than sufficiently done, and I now expect more people to know why a grown man and his piano have the power to move me to tears.