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Like many bands last year, Lansing, Michigan’s Hot Mulligan—the #1 Hot New Band per theirFacebook page—put out an LP in 2020 that they didn’t get to tour. This year, they’ll release IWon’t Reach Out To You, a six-track EP that operates as a response to their 2020 full-lengthYou’ll Be Fine. The EP is bookended on the first and last tracks by a resounding glance-back ata world that simply doesn’t exist anymore: “Stay home, stay home/You said it wouldn’t make adifference whether we could be together or not.”
On opener “One For The Boy,” those words are a serene, mournful observation, but by “PleaseDon’t Cry, You Have Swag,” they’re a volatile explosion, a group-yelled diagnosis set tothundering guitars, bass, and drums. These facts also explain Hot Mulligan: a group ofshitposting gamers from far reaches of Michigan (and one from Iowa) who became best friendsat college and started making music that works through the endless weirdness of growing up inthis moment. The result of these things is earnest, affecting emo punk, presented with a songtitle created by typing into autocorrect with eyes closed.
“Nothing is black and white,” says rhythm guitarist and backing vocalist Chris Freeman. “I like tothink that we challenge each other mentally and as friends to do better and grow together. We’realso just shitposters and trolls.”
Freeman and lead vocalist Nathan “Tades” Sanville came up together playing in local punkbands in rural Michigan before moving to Lansing in search of greater opportunity, where theymet lead guitarist Ryan “Spicy” Malicsi and drummer Brandon Blakeley. “When the music justbecomes a reflection of life and growing up, then when we’re bonding over music, we’rebonding over our lives together,” says Freeman.
That intimacy and interdependence works in extremes. “You see your friends in their lowestplaces,” says Freeman. “But you also see them when they’re doing everything they wanted todo.”
The band recorded I Won’t Reach Out To You in Pilesgrove, New Jersey with producer GaryCioni (Grayscale, Free Throw) at his Sound Acres Studio. Freeman, Cioni and Dash Williamsshared engineering duties. The majority of the record was written in studio over the course of atwo-week period.
The EP details the first major dying-off of connections and relationships in a life. It’s anexperience that’s familiar but always jarring. You spend your youth hearing your parents talkabout friends they haven’t seen in years, and you think how ridiculous that sounds. Thensuddenly, you’re 25, and realize you haven’t spoken with your old best pal since high schoolgraduation. It happens fast, and it’s weird.
“It’s not always about not reaching out to someone because they’re toxic,” says Freeman. “It’sjust because people grow apart.”
I Won’t Reach Out To You is an exploration of this process that constantly reproduces itselfacross our lives, which forces us to square two facts: those times and the people we knew wereawesome, and they’re over now, forever. Freeman says it’s about “reminiscing on people youknew in the past, but acknowledging that the past is the past.”
“One For The Boy” introduces this over a gentle wash of guitar and ghostly vocals as Sanvillelaments, “Hey, I feel us growing apart/Could we just talk or is it not the right time?” A snare drumrolls in the distance and goes quiet, and in bursts earworm pop punk blast “Featuring MarkHoppus” on compressed, crunchy guitars and Sanville’s full-tilt belt: “I kinda miss you/Back inhighschool/25 and I still think about your drawings that you made.”
“Losing Days” follows with acoustic guitar and Sanville’s breathless vocals: “Losing daysbecause it’s hard to reason leaving the bed/Debt’s been building since we got here/Staying thesame/Forget it!” It’s a tight 90 seconds that give way to “Pop Shuvit (hall of meat, duh),” aperfect slice of pounding, Taking Back Sunday-style emo pop that tracks the tiringrelentlessness of growing up while realizing that no one at the top is looking out for you.
“Please Don’t Cry, You Have Swag” closes on nostalgia and a cruel coming-to-terms with thepassage of time, as clear finger-picking broods and Sanville’s vocals long for a return to animpossible before: “You think I matter less than politics/When all I want is fresh paint, before weever would’ve talked like this.” The final minute crescendos into a shattering breakdown whileSanville repeats the first song’s remarks to a backing chorus of, “Stay home, stay home.”
Hot Mulligan are just as likely to write a beautiful, devastating treatise on growing apart—bothliterally and spiritually, from your friends and your old self—as they are to make a song andvideo about putting on sunglasses (which they have done). This is the Hot Mulligan way: life isserious and scary, but you just gotta make a meme about it with your buds.with PRINCE DADDY & THE HYENA, SINCERE ENGINEER, and SUPER AMERICAN
Prince Daddy & The Hyena / Sincere Engineer / Super American