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Sing Songs, Show Friends: Hot Mulligan talks ‘Pilot’ and BLED Fest

“Driving around and singing songs with my friends is what made me want to start a band, so I’d be stoked to know we made someone else feel that way.”

Hot Mulligan, a pop-punk band from Northern Michigan has gained widespread popularity after the release of their debut EP Opportunities. 

Last Thursday, the band premiered “The Soundtrack to Missing A Slam Dunk” via Substream Magazine. This is the second single off the bands upcoming debut album Pilot.

The new single, alongside “All You Wanted By Michelle Branch” continues Hot Mulligan’s pop-punk sound. The catchy lyrics keep fans wanting more and highly anticipating the new album.

Pilot is set to release on March 23rd from No Sleep Records (The Wonder Years, Moose Blood, La Dispute).

Guitarist and vocalist Chris Freeman took a moment to chat with contributor Kailey Howell regarding Pilot and the band’s upcoming stop for BLED Fest in Howell, MI.

Kailey Howell: What brought Hot Mulligan together, and what drove you to start making music?

Chris Freeman: We all met through different bands we were in. I was playing in a cover band prior to Hot Mulligan, and my band played a show with Tades’ (vocals) when we were both in high school. We clicked right off the bat and decided we wanted to start something fresh.

KH: Tell me a little about the Lansing music scene here in Michigan as opposed to that closer to Detroit. Is there much of a difference?

CF: I’d say there’s a noticeable difference. The Detroit scene really thrives off of the DIY community. There’s a little bit of that in Lansing, but not as much compared to Detroit. The two main venues we play in Lansing are great though. Mac’s Bar is this shitty little dive-bar, but the people who go to shows there know how to have a good time. The Loft is where we’re playing next. We’ve played there before. The sound is great, and I love the stage there.

KH: Going into recording Pilot, what were some things you wanted to do from the start?

CF: From the start we wanted to capture a few of our favorite sounds. We wanted to incorporate more midwestern emo guitar parts with pop-punk and pop-rock elements and keep song structures pretty simple. That’s just something we’ve always done. I had a couple songs I thought we were going to scrap, and we did, but some of those parts ended up making it in other songs.

KH: Was there anything that surprised you along the way?

CF: I’m surprised the album came together as well as it did with how limited we were on preparation time. Track 10, “How Do You Know It’s Not Armadillo Shells?” came together in like one day with all of it being written in the studio, and I think it’s one of our strongest songs yet.

KH: Is there one song that resonates with one of you personally?

CF: “How Do You Know It’s Not Armadillo Shells?” Tades’ lyrics and flow on that song is some of his best work in my opinion. I think we did exactly what we should have done with that song, and it’s just fun to listen and sing along to.

KH: What is one thing you want fans to get from listening to Pilot?

CF: I’d just like them to want to sing the songs and show their friends. Driving around and singing songs with my friends is what made me want to start a band, so I’d be stoked to know we made someone else feel that way. There’s no specific theme to the record, and I think that’s great because you get something a little different with every song.

KH: How does the band set it’s sound apart in the growing pop-punk scene?

CF: Honestly, I don’t know. I do know that a lot of bands start out wanting to be “the next (insert pop-punk band here)” but I think that’s the wrong way to approach it. Trying to sound like everyone else won’t make you stand out. I do think our songs are really fun to sing along to, and that helps us out a lot, but we’re just writing songs. We don’t necessarily try to stand out; I guess it just happens.

KH: What are some of the places you’re looking forward to most on tour with Knuckle Puck and Boston Manor?

CF: California and Arizona for sure. We met a lot of new friends when we hit those states back in November, and everyone there was really kind to us. There was a lot of support for us there our first time through, so I’m hoping it will be even better with the new record out. Lansing should be great as well. We haven’t played there in almost a year, and it’ll be our last chance to see a lot of our friends before we’re gone for over 40 days.

KH: You guys are playing Bled Fest again this year in Howell, MI, after playing it in 2015 and 2016. Before playing it, was this a festival you guys regularly attended? 

CF: No, Tades and I never got to go to BLED Fest before our first appearance. Think our bassist, Sniff, had gone a couple times before though. I started paying attention to BLED Fest lineup my freshman year of high school, but I lived over 7 hours away in Michigan’s upper peninsula and my parents never let me go. I watched probably dozens of YouTube videos of the festival over the next three years hoping I could go someday, and then my first attendance was actually our first performance just a week before I graduated.

KH: The festival has gotten a lot of slack on the lineup growing “less heavy” over the years. How do you feel about that?

CF: I don’t think it matters. I’m sure people who were there for the early years are upset about it. I get that. But BLED Fest is doing a great job at making the festival more inclusive of all genres, genders, and everything else. I think what they’re doing is great, and I’m really excited about how this year’s lineup is looking.

KH: Who are some of the Michigan bands you’re looking forward to catching at Bled Fest?

CF: Greet Death are the only Michigan band I’ve seen announced so far, but I’m really looking forward to their set. They are LOUD. It’s crazy, but their songs are so good, and they’re picking up a lot of traction in Michigan. I’d definitely check them out if you haven’t already. Other than that, I’d really like to see Forest Green, Grey Matter, Mover Shaker, Welman, and Seaholm on the festival this year.

KH: What do you have in store after the tour ends? What can we expect from Hot Mulligan in 2018?
CF: More touring. This is our busiest year as a band thus far. We’ll be on the road a bunch. I know that for sure.



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