Lansing, Michigan emo-pop punks Hot Mulligan have just released their fourth album, Why Would I Watch, via Wax Bodega. It's the band's best yet, with tons of swinging-for-the-fences anthems as well as some cool detours like the American Football-esque "This Song Is Called It's Called What It's Called" and the scrappy acoustic track "Betty." The raw emotion in the band's delivery is backed up by some heavy subject matter, and to get a better feel for the themes of this album, Hot Mulligan have given us a track-by-track breakdown of the whole thing. Commentary is by vocalist Tades Sanville, except for one song where guitarist/vocalist Chris Freeman chimes in, and you can read what they had to say about each song below. You can also read my review of the album in Notable Releases.
A new video for "No Shoes In The Coffee Shop (Or Socks)" also premieres today at noon, so stay tuned for that and stream the full LP right here:
"Shouldn’t Have a Leg Hole But I Do"
I’m pretty pessimistic. "Leg Hole" is me yelling about how my poor mental health is permanent and I’ve come to terms with that. I’m not sure if that’s exactly true, but at 27 it seems to be a pretty consistent factor in my day to day. “I begin to understand every path, every variable made so it’ll bring me back.”
"It’s A Family Movie She Hates Her Dad"
This song is about being exposed to alcoholism and addiction within my family and wondering if the same thing is gonna happen to me. -Chris
"And I Smoke"
I talked to a therapist over Covid when people around me seemed pretty concerned. Wound up with this sweet older lady who told me I probably have anxiety. When I wake up, I hear feet pounding on the ceiling above me and when I’m alone, I can hear people talking just out of earshot. Neither of these are real, I know, but my brain is trash. Always at least a little scared that there’s someone near me when I want to be alone. I imagine this has something to do with the position I’ve put myself in as a singer. Lots of eyes. You all scare me. That’s "And I Smoke."
"This Song Is Called It’s Called What’s It's Called"
I miss the old way of touring. Looking back at it is always bittersweet. I remember the fun of playing in sweaty basements and dive bars, but I’m hardwired to regret that thing I said or the opportunities I missed. Keeps me up. Also have a penchant for drinking on top of an already hit-or-miss memory. This song is just about looking back with mixed emotions when I know I should feel better about it than I do.
"No Shoes in the Coffee Shop (Or Socks)"
Nostalgia is a double-edged sword. The word itself is about looking back fondly on stuff you did, but I almost always find a way to spin it where I’ve fucked up. It keeps me up at night.
"Christ Alive My Toe Dammit Hurts"
I'm very happy with how this song turned out. The whole point for "Christ Alive" for me was to make something that sounded upbeat and party-worthy while describing what it feels like when I want to die. The song flows into a more serious tone and I acknowledge that nobody actually cares whether I’m here or not. So there you go.
My pet died. Her name was Betty. Later, her sister died. Her name was Doc.
"Cock Party 2 (Better Than The First)"
*what an insane tonal shift.
I find myself thinking back about my old friends I’ve lost touch with. I’m sure everyone does. I had pretty recently written a song about this, but the idea didn’t seem completely explored and "Cock Party" was a convenient excuse to dive into it a little more.
"Shhhh! Golf is On"
"Shhhh! Golf is On" is about my mom. I’m asking her to die. Every time I hear about her, she’s a worse person than before.
"Gans Media Retro Games"
"Gans Media" is about only seeing what I’m doing wrong. Seems like I drink and lose touch between what I’m saying and what I mean. Musically, this song has a cool little balancing act between distortion and that kinda ghost-y lead that I’m stoked about. It doesn’t really sound like something we’ve done before.
"Smahccked My Head Awf"
Probably my second to last song about my grandma. Until we reach the big crescendo, I’m just describing a visit I had with her. Then it’s all downhill from there. Spent a lot of time just worrying I’ve not been a good enough grandson. She's the closest thing I’ve got to a mom. It’s a bummer to watch people you love grow old.
"John "The Rock" Cena, Can You Smell What the Undertaker"
Christianity sure fucks up a lot of kids, eh? I remember being like 12 at a water park and feeling ashamed of my body in a swimsuit because I thought being that exposed was sinful. I lost my faith when I was almost 16 but the damage was done. Here I am now with body dysmorphia and some kind of complex about being evil. "John 'The Rock' Cena" breaks down what that church did to me and how I tried to be a good Christian boy.
Hot Mulligan are gearing up for the Sad Summer Fest tour alongside Taking Back Sunday, Mom Jeans, Sincere Engineer, and more (including NJ's PNC Bank Arts Center on July 14 with Head Automatica also on the bill). They've also got other tour dates, including the When We Were Young festival. All dates here.