Inside Voices with Chris Freeman of Hot Mulligan, “Taking A Step Back”

Posted 3 years ago by Joel Funk

Inside Voices is an irregular feature we have here on 36vultures that started with Luke Granered of Better Off talking about music/the music industry. Essentially, this feature works as a place for musicians to voice their thoughts on just about anything. Today, we’ve got friend of the website, and new staff writer Chris Freeman of Hot Mulligan talking about the right time to take a step back from the music industry.

“It’s time we decide to call it quits,” is a line I’ve seen too many of my favorite bands post or imply lately. Whether it be The Swellers calling it quits, Fireworks’ “indefinite hiatus” after this summer, or Polar Bear Club mentioning they’re doing the same thing as Fireworks, I think there have been a lot of questions left unanswered and a lot of uncertainty floating around. All three of these bands have been able to tour with acts big enough to sustain themselves by solely being a band, but there comes a time when you’re either going to be that band or you’re going to coast back into the nine-to-five work life.

To provide some background information and to demonstrate why I care so much about these situations, I play drums and sing in a band. I’m 18 years old, freshly graduated from high school, and often feel like I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing. When Fireworks announced their indefinite hiatus, I cared and was disappointed, but I didn’t think it affected me directly too much. It wasn’t until about a week ago that I realized that I’ll also have to decide when to call it quits someday, and that is terrifying. I played a show with some friends in another local band. They’re all a bit older than myself and the rest of my band but good nonetheless. After the show, I was approached with the idea of touring this December. I thought, “Why not? This is what I want to do. I’ve got to learn how to do it sometime.” Then, I heard their lead vocalist say, “Yeah, man. I’m 22 and none of my bands have really done anything. This is my last chance to attempt to tour like this,” and that’s when things got real. He’s 22 years old, not too far from my age, and aware of his situation and how the scene functions. 

When do bands find out if they’ll be able to keep going until their 30’s? At what age should you decide, “It’s too late to give it another go,” and why does it matter how old you are or how productive you’re being? Playing music is supposed to be about sharing feelings, helping each other out, and having fun, but “making it” or not actually plays a large role. 

I guess I had less to say on the matter than I initially thought, but that’s fine. The point is to know that many of the bands you’re listening to right now could have put out their last album without you, me, them, or anyone else knowing so. That tour they have coming up? That could be their last tour. Any day, someone’s van could break down, someone’s amp blows all the tubes, or someone’s trailer could unhitch and break nearly everything; most of us aren’t making the money to replace all of that. Go out and enjoy those bands you love because they might not be around next year. Eventually, it becomes time to take a step back and call it quits.