In the world of music, what counts most? A band's style? An original sound? Great songs that move you and make you think? How often is it that a band brings all these elements together in a fresh and distinctive package? Not often. Yet Something Corporate is one such band. They are nothing short of five young musicians who have that un-teachable, innate ability to play great music, write great songs, and connect in an amazing way with a crowd.
Something Corporate's sound is anchored by the fierce piano playing of 19-year-old lead singer-songwriter Andrew McMahon. This is modern alternative rock composed on an instrument with 88 keys. And while piano music is not exactly the flavor-of-the-month (or even the era), Something Corporate infuses it into their songs in an inventive and melodic way. If indie-rock could ever be called elegant, Something Corporate would be that sound.
Citing both Billy Joel and Elton John as influences, while injecting the irreverent guitar edge of modern rock, SC brings a fresh new sound in a time that so desperately needs one. Something Corporate, though, is hardly what you would call a piano band. With two guitars in the mix Andrew explains, "I've always been a fan of a more driving sound, blending guitar with piano chords. Whatever feels right for any given song, we do." After careful listens one notices other influences like Jimmy Eat World and Jets To Brazil.
From local act and hometown favorite in Dana Point, California to recording artist for Drive-Thru/MCA Records, the last six months for Something Corporate have been nothing short of amazing. The band recorded a highly acclaimed, 6 song, E.P. Audioboxer, that was released last fall with the intention of helping the band grow a fanbase outside of California. When KROQ in Los Angeles discovered the E.P. and then the song "If U C Jordan"--an undeniable "indie hit" about standing up to a high school bully--things really started to roll. Some of the nation's most important alternative stations joined in and had the song in major rotation--and all of this well before an add date could even be scheduled by a label trying to catch up with such unexpected success. The song became a top 30 single on the Billboard Post Modern charts and was furthered upon America with the add of their music video to MTV2, Much Music, and most college music video shows. Audioboxer recently shipped over 100,000 units and tripled sales expectations. During this time the band toured whenever they could, leaving a wake of new fans wherever they played. If a radio single and a hot music video were enough to open the door as to how good this band was, their amazing live show certainly hammered the point home.
January through April saw the band deeply in the midst of recording material for their full-length, debut LP, Leaving Through The Window. Songs on the album range from energetic, hopeful, and playful to emotional, meaningful, and beautiful. What is most endearing about the music are the insights and introspections on love, relationships, and the honest feelings about being members of Generation Y. Leaving is a very striking album, both familiar and far-reaching. Musically, the material was fleshed out by strong studio performances by the entire band. Five of the tracks were then dramatically embellished with string arrangements performed by a 26-piece orchestra, written and conducted by Grammy award winner, Paul Buckmaster (David Bowie, Elton John, Train). Despite such formal flourishes, Producer Jim Wirt (Incubus, Hoobastank, Fiona Apple), helped to retain the hard rocking, indie-edge that the band has become known and loved for.
Breaking Something Corporate down into their individual and expressive parts, you see that their distinctive personalities really make this a band. Clutch on bass is wildly succinct and thoroughly entertaining, Josh is the guitarist that constantly impresses with each new thing he plays, Brian on drums is the drummer you wish you could play like, and William is a natural on rhythm guitar--the melodic counterpart to fill out their sound.
The Something Corporate story began simply enough--a bunch of wide-eyed, Southern California high school friends just getting together because of their mutual love of music. What they've become is something well beyond anyone's expectations--whether it's their radio ready, intuitive and offbeat songwriting, their wild antics onstage, or simply their natural abilities--amongst and within themselves--to be a great band.
"As you can probably assume from listening to the music, our punk sensibility is not entirely intact," Andrew laughs. Nonetheless, Drive-Thru's track record of artist development made signing with the label a no-brainer. Besides, Andrew points out, "They sign cool bands and connect with kids in a way that not many record labels do.
"People who listen to radio songs tend to like our band because we write choruses with hooks, so we'll always have a pop crowd," he continues. "But, because of our association with Drive-Thru, maybe a kid who wouldn't normally listen to a band like us might give it a shot and hear something they like." Andrew also notes that immersion in the culture of Drive-Thru's bands and fans may have led to a gutsier sound for the newer material, but, Something Corporate isn't about to trade in the upright piano.
"Musically, my goal in life has always been to touch people the way that the first Counting Crows record did to me," says Andrew. "People tend to underestimate what kids will comprehend and what they'll connect to. I think the more honest I am with myself, the more people get it. And regardless of whether or not people always get it," he concludes, "they'll definitely get that we're not just spitting out bullsh-t."
In a world where you're not cool unless you're either pop, punk, or metal, Something Corporate is doing something different...going back to where rock music all began.