East Lansing, MI emo quartet Hot Mulligan are continuing to build momentum with their fourth release - and first full-length effort - Pilot, out now on No Sleep Records. This follows 2016's Opportunities, which was met with positive reviews and helped launch the band to the forefront of the emo revival.
We caught up with guitarist/vocalist Chris Freeman over-the-phone during a break on their current tour with Knuckle Puck to chat about the band, Pilot, and crazy touring stories.
Chris MacIntosh: Where’d the name ‘Hot Mulligan’ come from?
Chris Freeman: That came from a very embarrassing high school story. We - me, our vocalist Tades (Sanville), and our bassist at the time - were driving around in my car and we saw my art teacher driving as well. Her name was Mrs. Mulligan. The conversation went like this:
Chris: “Hey, that’s Mrs. Mulligan!”
Tades: “Is she hot?”
Chris: “No, but her daughter is.”
Tades: “What is her name?”
Tades: “Hot Mulligan? That’s her name, Chris?”
Chris: “That’s our band name.”
That’s fantastic. Probably the best band name story I’ve heard. Any time I talk to an artist, I like to ask what THEY think their music sounds like, so how would you describe your sound?
I would say it sounds like early 2000s emo with some 2010 emo revival influence and pop-punk.
What made you want to make music your career?
I got a Simple Plan CD, it was burned when I was in kindergarten. It was ‘No Pad, No Helmets… Just Balls.’ I listened to that CD religiously and saw Simple Plan on MTV one time. I just happened to turn on the TV and they were playing and I was like ‘that is really cool, I want to be a singer in a band.’ And then I didn’t do that necessarily, but I do kinda now.
That record is fantastic.
Yeah, that’s one of the best records of all time.
Tell me about the new record Pilot.
It is our first full-length record on No Sleep Records. We wrote a couple of the songs starting in January of 2017, but most of the record was written in 48 hours. We left for a tour immediately after that, then had one day off after the tour, and then went to the studio. We spent about two weeks there doing that with Nick Diener (Oneder Studios, ex-The Swellers) in Saginaw, MI. It was really fun, I think we’re all really proud of it.
I think you should be, the record is great. Was there anything interesting about the writing and/or recording process?
Our third single, ‘How Do You Know It’s Not Armadillo Shells?’, was written entirely in the studio. That was the only song that was done that way because we had only 10 songs going in, but we wanted 11. We wanted something that sounded a little different from the other songs on the record, so we just asked Nick if we could have a couple hours to come up with something. We came up with something that was way different at first, but then worked on changing it a lot and it became what it is now.
Is that pretty common?
Not for us. I know a lot of other bands will do some writing in the studio, but that was the first time we’d done anything like that.
What were your biggest musical influences while recording Pilot?
Taking Back Sunday, Transit.
Favorite song on Pilot?
My personal favorite is ‘How Do You Know It’s Not Armadillo Shells?’.
Craziest thing that’s happened on any tour you’ve been on?
One time - I think it was our first time going into Canada - we happened to have this suction cup dildo with us. We played a game called ‘Dilly Flip,’ which is just where you throw the dildo at a wall and make it stick, but we lost it at some point. We thought we had lost it at home, but we lost it in the van and thought it was gone forever. So we got to the border and they just like destroyed the van, they took everything out, they broke the center console, and everything was on the ground. The man comes back into customs and he says ‘anyone wanna tell me why our search dog found a big, black dildo underneath your seat?’ and we didn’t give him an answer and instead just shouted out ‘THEY FOUND IT!’.
Favorite artists in the scene right now?
Knuckle Puck, Free Throw, The Story So Far, Macseal, Super American.
Favorite emo/pop record of all time?
‘Life on a Houseboat’ by I Can See Mountains. They were really small and broke up, but the primary songwriter for that band is now in Super American. I think he writes really good songs.
Favorite emo/pop-punk song?
Right now, it is ‘Saturday, Sunday’ by Transit.
Anything else to add?