Interview: Hercules Mulligan
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What got you into music, and if you had not gotten into music what would you be doing today?
Both of our parents were big time music junkies so we really didn’t have a choice in the matter. We each started playing various instruments when we were very young, took a guitar class together when we were 15, and have been playing music together ever since. We’re both very interested in politics so if we weren’t playing music we’d probably be working more in that arena.
What do you like to do when your not playing music and how does that influence your creativity?
We both grew up playing sports and still find that it’s the best way to get out of our heads and get ideas flowing. We’ll play pretty much everything but lately it’s been a lot of basketball, golf, and since we’re clearly getting very old, pickleball.
How long has your band been around?
We started playing as Hercules Mulligan in 2019 and are currently working through the release of our first album / working on songs for the second.
Where are you based out of and how did that influence your music?
We’re currently based in the SF-Bay Area. In addition to music, we run a business together, so a lot of our music has come out of jams to de-stress, take a break from the day-to-day ratrace of the tech world and make fun of ourselves and our experiences.
How did you come up with the name of your band and what does it mean to you.
We’d been kicking around some band names for a while but none of them really felt right. Then, this past fall, we took our significant others to Hamilton in San Francisco, and the moment that the chorus belted out “Hercules Mulligan” we looked at each other and laughed cause we simultaneously said, “that’s a great band name.” We’d never heard of Hercules Mulligan (he’s a side character in the musical Hamilton), and when we went home and did more research on the actual historical figure, we liked the idea of honoring the unsung side characters in history.
Tell me about the best and worst shows you have played.
Our most recent show in SF was a blast - we had the whole room moving, it was a great dance party and we had the chance to play alongside some truly awesome artists, in particular our friend, Sami Freeman.
In terms of worst shows, our first show went about as bad as it could possibly go - the monitors didn’t work so we couldn’t hear ourselves at all and we’d invited our closest friends to the show. We broke strings, an amp stopped working, and everything that could go wrong went wrong. We knew we sounded like shit but we had to be up there for 45 minutes so we just powered through. It was so bad we couldn’t do anything but laugh about it and every show since has felt much easier - the pressure is already off since it can’t get much worse than that.
Tell me about your favorite venue to play at, and do you have any places you want to play that you haven't already?
Our favorite venue in SF to play at is El Rio since it just has such a fun vibe. In SF, the Fillmore and the Sutro stage at Outside Lands are two we’d definitely love to play at some point.
If you could play any show with any lineup who would be on the ticket?
Dave Chappelle, Led Zeppelin, James Brown
What is some advice that you would give to someone who is just getting into playing in a band?
Just get out there and start performing live as soon as you can. Don’t get too cute about it and just start making mistakes out there. The more reps the better and have fun with it.
If you could go back in time and give yourselves advice, what would it be?
Don’t worry about what other people think - just get out there and do your thing.
Of your songs which one means the most to you and why?
Trent: Blocking the Door - This song is pretty personal for me and it helped me translate some things that I was having trouble communicating with my family in words.
Ben: Kinda Man - It’s important to realize when you’re the asshole.
Which songs are your favorite to play and which get requested the most?
Hermosa Henry and Dad Man really get the party started.
What is the creative process for the band, and what inspires you to write your music?
Most of our songs tend to come out of an extended jam / improvisation session. We both write songs but we tend to switch off who is the primary driver of the melody and the lyrics for each song. Usually Ben starts rocking a beat, Trent picks out a melody on a guitar or a synth, one of us starts yelling random things until we develop a coherent thought, and then we build around that. We develop ideas off of something we are experiencing or feeling and have fun with it.
What kinds of messages do you like to get across in your music?
Don’t take yourself too seriously. Vote. Have fun.
Do you ever have disagreements in your band, and how do you get past them?
Sure do - usually, we just try to be the old-ass adults we are and find common ground since it’s just music, but if we’re pretty far apart on an idea we’ll bring in a friend to be a tie-breaker.
What are your plans for the future, and do you have anything that you want to spotlight that's coming up?
Our first full-length album will be dropping by the end of the year.
We hope to get to the point we can start playing the musical festival circuit within the next year or two, but regardless of how that pans out, we plan to create music together for the rest of our lives. This band is a vehicle for our shared vision of writing fun music and throwing a rocking dance party for anyone who wants to join.