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The best kept secret in music


"Mulligan: Figuring out how to make this whole rock 'n' roll thing work"

They're not Irish and they don't golf, but now, after a few tries, Kalamazoo's Mulligan may have just figured out how to make this whole rock 'n' roll thing work.

The band of three longtime friends is set to release their debut full-length album, The Tides of Black Heart Bay, later this month after setbacks resulting from lightning striking their recording studio postponed a previously announced November release. Such a setback could have disillusioned a less-prepared band. Thankfully, the members of Mulligan, guitarist/vocalist Jakob Goheen, bassist/vocalist Derek Feltner and drummer Dustin Smith, are no strangers to making music out of disaster; Goheen and Feltner played their first song together in honor of their first guitar teacher who had committed suicide. It was through this teacher that the two had even met and the tragedy brought them together as musicians.

From there, the duo played self-confessed pop-punk at junior high school talent shows and elsewhere in its hometown of Tekonsha before meeting Smith in high school.

"I met him because he stole my girlfriend," Goheen said. "This really cute girl named Megan."

"Hey, she was hot!" Smith said in his own defense.

Usually such a deed spells the end of a band, not the beginning. But not for Mulligan; Feltner and Smith even stole each other's girlfriends later on.

After high school, all three tried their hands in other bands before reforming as a trio. They then released their first EP as Mulligan, Hearts On Fire, in 1999, and began building an audience around the area.

Earlier this year, Mulligan placed sixth out of over 100 entrants in the World Series of Rock 'n' Roll held at The Club Soda. Goheen was quick to point out what this finish really meant for the band.

"Ouch, sixth seems so high, but it was last place of the final round, so it goes to show how tough the competition was," he said.

"We entered thinking that if we made it to the second round we would be stoked," Feltner added. "We ended up getting to the final night and it was apparent that every band brought all they had. Some bands, like our friends [in] Your Best Friend, gave a truly memorable performance. Overall, it was a great experience and totally unlike the usual sketchy battles that you hear band's horror stories about."

Leaving the battle with new management, Mulligan set about recording The Tides of Black Heart Bay, the follow-up to their independently released Grey Vs. Black EP, at Dynamite Sound Project in Grand Rapids.

"The actual recording time was very spread out and really laid back," Goheen said. "The opposite of what we're used to. But it was such a cool experience. We were able to see how a big-budget studio works and how many people it takes to make a good record."

"Ironically, what took the most time getting used to was simply having more time," Feltner added. "Spending an entire day on the guitars for one song was a new experience. I can totally see how some bands take a year or two years to record a new CD. Hell, we worked on this one for like six months."

The band's influences include such disparate artists as Small Brown Bike, Snow Patrol, My Chemical Romance, Hot Water Music, and even Hank Williams, Johnny Cash and Elvis. ("Jake calls them the three wise men," Feltner said.) Unfortunately, this has led to Mulligan's music being referred to as emo at times (even in an earlier review in this magazine) but they don't seem to mind.

"The term doesn't really bother me at all," Goheen said. "It's how people view the term. I don't necessarily see it as a badge of honor, but at the same time it's nothing to shy away from. We have songs on our first CD recorded in 1999 that would classify as 'emo' now. So more than anything I think we're proud to say that if we are in fact an emo band that we're not one of the bands who jumped on the emo bandwagon; we've been sad dorks since before it was cool."

"I don't think it's reached the level that grunge did,'" Feltner explained. "It's a term that gets thrown around a lot. Emo is supposed to mean emotional. And every band has emotion in their songs. If they don't, why even play them? Sadness, anger, fear, loneliness, righteousness. These are all emotions that people sing about. Metallica sings about being angry and lost sometimes. I would love to see someone call James [Hetfield] a 'whiny emo kid!'"

Mulligan will host a CD release party for The Tides of Black Heart Bay on Jan. 22 at The Club Soda along with opening act Murder By Death. They then hope to hit the road in the spring, trying to tour everywhere and anywhere they can for at least three months. For more on the band, check out - Recoil Magazine, January 2005

"Real life inspires Mulligan"

In golf, the world mulligan means a redo. A second chance.

In music, it means three guys from Tekonsha starting over.

Jakob Goheen, Derek Feltner, and Dustin Smith form the indie-rock band Mulligan, which will release its first full-length album during a CD release party Saturday at Club Soda, 340 E. Michigan Ave., Kalamazoo.

The CD, "The Tides of Blackheart Bay," took nearly six months to complete and features 12 tracks. The release, on Kalamazoo's Hearts On Fire Records label, follows three EPs that the band previously released on its own.

The trio grew up in Tekonsha where they performed at high school talent shows, after football games at Goheen's house and wherever they could.

At the age of 6, Goheen got his first guitar from an uncle. He took lessons for 13 years in classical, jazz, rock, music theory, music literature and anything that would help him become a better musician.

"I've been playing guitar way longer than I've not been playing," said Goheen, 20. "My parents are the utmost supportive. They've been buying me guitars and equipment since I was young. I think they're looking for a return investment."

If anything, the trio's parents can be proud of the new CD their "kids" will release this weekend. Like many bands building a fan base and looking for recognition, Mulligan would record music to CDs for distribution.

"It's totally awesome," Smith, 19, said. "I'm sick of burning CDs and making copies. The fact that there's this real, real CD that could possibly be in certain stores and you can go out with your friend and say, 'Hey, that's my CD.' That's the coolest thing in the world to me."

"It makes you feel very accomplished," Goheen said. "It's a huge step up from sitting in your bedroom burning CDs when you get a box of 1,000 of them. It's a whole other world."

Seeing their hard work pay off wasn't always so easy. When they originally met, Smith was in junior high and Goheen and Feltner were high school students. When it came time to perform at "The Cabaret," Smith was asked to help Goheen and Feltner by stepping in as drummer.

"I remember, back in the day, in like seventh grade, I listened to nothing but Metallica and hard rock," said Smith, the only member still living in Tekonsha. "I thought that was the best."

Then, Goheen asked his band mates to play Blink-182's "Damn It." Smith had never heard of the band, let alone punk rock.

"He showed me the whole CD and I'd never heard anything like it before," Smith said. "I thought 'It's really cool but I could never play it. It's too fast.'"

The first talent show was the first time Smith played drums in front of an audience. His only experience was playing around on the drum set in the school's band room.

From that day the group worked to perfect its sound, its style and cohesiveness. They write all their own songs and Feltner and Goheen sing the lyrics they wrote to make it even more personal.

The band members have parted ways a couple times, fought over the same girls and disagreed on agreeing. Smith recalls fighting with Goheen over who got to ride "shotgun" with Feltner, the first to get his license. Bonding, it seems, in a much more fraternal order than just friends.

"It's crazy how far we've come," Smith said. "You look back at the past and laugh at how dumb you were. We've gotten past all that now."

"It's just nice because we've all played together for so long that it's kind of just unspoken," said Goheen, who works part-time for the Enquirer. "We just know what each other is thinking."

Now, the guys aren't fighting over girls. They're singing about them.

Recorded at Dynamite Sound in Grand Rapids, "The Tides of Blackheart Bay" is a collective gut-check of emotions, mostly about one girl. Ask any of the guys and they'll tell you that a girl inspired most of the songwriting and she knows it.

However, one track on the disc comes from a much deeper and mournful experience. In November 2003, their friend Ricky Pudak committed suicide.

The group recorded "Every Other Petal Spells Disaster" on this CD in Pudak's memory.

"It was really hard. We didn't do it for him. We didn't do it for us. We did it for his father. He came to us and asked us to write a song," Goheen said. "We probably had 10 different versions of the song. We kept getting better and better. We knew it had to be our best song."

Portions of the proceeds from CD sales will be donated to Gryphon Place, an area suicide prevention center in Kalamazoo.

Also rocking out on Saturday are Murder By Death, an indie band from Bloomington, Ind., Ettison Clio from Lansing and Your Best Friend from Saginaw.

Mulligan will end the evening with an extended 90-minute set. Admission to the party will be free to those 17 or older with a $10 purchase of the new album at the door or online at

The event is sponsored by 89.1 WIDR-FM Kalamazoo and - Battle Creek Enquirer - January 20th, 2005

"'Tides' that bind: Beyond loss, Mulligan charts course fueled by friendship"

The three guys in local rock band Mulligan aren't related. But they sure seemed like family as they kidded each other throughout an interview last week at Kraftbrau Brewery.

They laughed about how they used to steal each other's girlfriends, and wouldn't let lead singer and guitarist Jakob "Jake" Goheen get away with saying he'd never done it. They laughed harder when they talked about using tubes of frozen cookie dough as weapons on each other for revenge.

And drummer Dustin Smith's face practically lit up as he told about a time back in the eighth grade, when all the guys were still living in their hometown of Tekonsha, and he just couldn't stop conking bassist Derek Feltner in the head with the cast on his leg.

From the outside, they probably looked a little silly. But to locals Bob Shell and Anetra Grice, the band's new management team, the trio's playfulness is just one thing that makes the band worth banking on.

"They're like brothers," Shell said. "They are really happy and serious about what they're doing."

What they're doing on Saturday night at Club Soda is releasing their first LP in five years, "The Tides of Blackheart Bay." Three other bands -- Murder by Death, Ettison Clio and Your Best Friend -- will warm things up.

The CD marks a new page in Mulligan's story.

Last summer, they were signed to Shell and Grice's newly formed independent record label based in Marshall, called Hearts on Fire. (They took the name from a 1999 Mulligan EP.)

The pair approached Mulligan about becoming partners on the label two weeks after the guys rocked out in finals of the World Series of Rock 'N' Roll at Soda.

Grice, who's spent more than 10 years on the local music scene as an organizer and fan, was drawn to the band because of its "refreshing sound," which was "a lot different sound than a lot of the bands" she'd seen.

She's not worried about having Mulligan be the flagship act on her label and sinking cash into the band's future.

"I couldn't have picked a better band," Grice said. "They love to play live shows. It's one of our running jokes that no matter where you tell them they're playing, it's never a joke to them. One time I told them they were booked to play a senior center. And Derek was like, 'What time?' They just love to play live. It doesn't matter where."

The band is young -- Feltner is 22, Smith is 20 and Goheen turns 21 in March -- but they've been together for six years, a long time for an unsigned local act. The secret to the longevity of the group seems to be their inability to stay ticked off at each other.

"We got all the s--- out of the way early on as a band," Feltner said.

"We've stopped stealing each other's girlfriends. And it's good that we came to blows earlier on," Smith added.

"We get in fights, but by 3 o'clock the next day, we're back in the rehearsal room," Goheen said.

When jamming together, the guys won't speak if something new is coming out. They'll simply continue to play, listening to each other, taking the music as far as they feel it can go.

"Then we'll just say, 'Oh, that was good.' We don't talk about it. ... That comes from playing together for so long," Goheen said.

The band has a new rehearsal room that they're not too crazy about. Maybe it has something to do with the address, 666 Porter St.

"It's haunted," Smith said.

After waiting a minute, there was no punchline. The other guys just nodded at Smith in agreement.

They then spilled a couple stories out about strange sounds in the halls, speakers and amps turning themselves on and off, and things being moved around in a room that had been locked. They weren't kidding this time. In fact, they seemed a little spooked about it.

Ghosts aren't a joking matter for the band. Maybe that's because they've lived through some personal tragedies that have bound them together and driven their music.

Their last full-length album, in 2000, was called "So Long Happiness." And their latest, "Blackheart Bay," is filled with crashing guitars and screamed laments on songs with titles such as "Dejection" and "I Am Missing, Not Missed." It's not just emo posing.

The disc also includes the track "Every Other Petal Spells Disaster," which was written about the suicide of their close friend Rick Pudak last year. Pudak was a constant presence at the band's rehearsals and shows and often acted as a roadie.

"He was the one who always wanted to fight," Smith said, a memory that made the whole band laugh.

"He was one of our best friends, and we don't have a big group of really close friends," Goheen said. "It hit us pretty hard."

The song's lyrics reflect the friends' sadness and anger:

"I'll grab myself a rose from up in front/ Limb from limb tear it apart/ This one means more than 'she loves me not'/ And every other petal spells you're gone, you're gone."

Smith has been working on a video for the song, which includes footage of Pudak from home movies spliced in, as a tribute to their fallen friend.

"I try to think of it as more of a positive than a negative," Smith said about his friend's death.

Goheen said two other friends of his have committed suicide. Also, he and Feltner's first guitar teacher from their high school years killed himself.

"It (suicide) doesn't help anything out. It doesn't do any good," Feltner said.

"Too many emo bands talk about it (suicide) as a way out. We try to go against that," Goheen said.

Ten percent of the profits from the new album will be given to the suicide prevention center at Gryphon Place, a local nonprofit counseling and crisis prevention center.

In March, Mulligan will embark on its biggest tour ever, a two-week road trip that will cover about seven states.

The tour will be a chance to unleash energy pent up from spending the last half of 2004 in the studio working on the raw sounds and diverse tones of "Blackheart Bay," which includes 12 tracks of new and revised material.

The guys were excited, not intimidated, about the prospect of playing in new places to fresh audiences.

"It's always fun to win over people," Feltner said.

And besides, they're called Mulligan. They plan to keep taking that extra shot until they drive their music as far it can go.
- Kalamazoo Gazette, Friday, January 21, 2005

""The Tides of Blackheart Bay" Review"

Only comparable in the local scene to perhaps the now-defunct Marshall band Small Brown Bike, Kalamazoo’s Mulligan has finally pressed its dark, charging rock onto a full-length CD. The three-piece has definitely fulfilled on the promise of their previous, self-released EPs, as the extensive studio time for this disc has easily enhanced their already dense guitar sound and impassioned vocals. Previously released material – including the bone-chilling “Tinfoil,” “Kill Devil Hills,” “This Distance In Miles” and “Grey vs. Black” – sound new again, with more clarity in the production and surprisingly more rawness in the band members’ performances. The album’s new tracks, especially the delicate, guitar-and-voice only ballad “The Key Of A Flat,” give the accomplished set even more depth of feeling. –Eric Mitts - Recoil Magazine, February 2005

"The Editor's Page: Mulligan"

"As far as local music goes, I highly recommend checking out Mulligan. I heard the end of their set the other night at Club North and was amazed. This 3-piece has a killer indie rock sound that is more put together than some of the nationally or semi-nationally signed indie acts. If you get a chance, hunt these guys down."

Yvonne Glasgow,
Music Revue Magazine
October 2004 Issue - Music Revue Magazine, October 2004

"Mulligan headlines college music event"

Local Rock trio Mulligan cruised loudly into the final round of this summer's World Series of Rock 'n' Roll at Club Soda.

On Wednesday, the band will take the Soda stage again to headline a night of music aimed at the college crowd. The opening acts are another local band, Holistic and Detroit band Tough Call.

Mulligan has had a busy year. Besides working their way through rounds of Soda's rock series competition on the waves of their textured, fierce emo sound, they released an EP called "Grey vs. Black" earlier this year.

Now the band - lead singer and guitarist Jakob Goheen, singer and bassist Derek Feltner and drummer Dustin Smith - is preparing for the release of its first full length album, "The Tides of Black Heart Bay," sometime this fall.

Local five-piece band Holistic will use their larger lineup to open wide the door for Mulligan.

Five-man Detroit punk band Tough Call formed in late 2002, but has already managed to land gigs at big venues such as the Shelter and the Magic Stick. They list NOFX, Weezer and Pennywise as influences.

Kalamazoo Gazette
September 24, 2004 - Kalamazoo Gazette, September 24, 2004

"Change is a welcome ingredient for Mulligan"

Starting over.

For some, it's a blessing. For others, it's heartbreaking.
For Kalamazoo's Mulligan, it's old hat.

The members of Mulligan have had their share of fresh starts. Growing up in the small
town of Tekonsha, the threesome of Jakob Goheen, Derek Feltner, and Dustin Smith have
had quite an experience.

The three started a band for a talent show in junior high school, then played separately in
other bands, then together again, and so on. Finally, after years of false starts, they
formed Mulligan in 1999.

"It just felt right to start this band," vocalist and guitarist Goheen said. "We usually know
what each other are thinking. More often that not, we already know what each other's
ideas are, from what we're going to do at shows to our songwriting."

Their music is abrasive, yet harmonious. It's lawless, and at times comfortable. But the
band's quiet melodies and ethereal guitar sound can't even begin to sugar-coat the raw
emotion and last grasps that dominate Goheen's songwriting.

For him, the music is his diary of starting over.

Starting over from a listless time of lost love and insecurity.

"Life is pretty crazy. Things can be going just fine, and then it all changes. Our music
reflects that. We feel that our songs are more poetic than anything. They're not about
complaining. They're about taking a hard look at life, trying to understand it, and
changing accordingly," Goheen said. "We're not just another whiny emo band."

And another whiny emo band, they are not. Mulligan took sixth place out of 107 bands in
"The World Series of Rock and Roll," a five-month long event that took place at The
Club Soda in Kalamazoo this year.

"We got to meet a lot of new people and got to hear some new bands at the World
Series." drummer Dustin Smith said. "We are fans of all of the local bands, and we look
at the music scene as more of a brotherhood than a competition." Competition or not,
being in the event has helped the band out a quite a bit.

"We've had an exciting time since the World Series of Rock," bassist Derek Feltner said.
"A lot of cool things are happening."

Cool things, yes. The band was signed to Hearts On Fire Records immediately after the
event, bringing the winds of change and the support of a label to help the band along.

Mulligan has been playing shows in Detroit and Chicago as well as venues in West
Michigan. Last month, the band was selected by the members of to play
the Grand Rapids stop on their Choozapalooza tour. One of the band's songs is rated the
"Number Eight Most Bitter Break-up Song Of All Time" on the website, which features
music from independent artists around the world.

"These things are all awesome," Goheen says, "But the high point is that we get to record
our first full-length album."

Mulligan has been recording "The Tides of Black Heart Bay" at Dynamite Sound Project
in Grand Rapids for the past few months. The record is scheduled to be released in
January, with a national tour to follow.

The eleven tracks from the album are a collection of heartbroken mutterings and puzzled
screams for help, comfort, or even at their best, more pain. The songs tell a story of
desire, affliction, and quiet anger that ends in reluctant resolution. And as many endings
become, a new beginning.

More information about Mulligan is available on the band’s web site at - Music Revue Magazine, November 2004

"Grey vs. Black EP Review"

It's unfortunate that the often misused genre of emo has developed so many negative connotations. It's unfortunate because the genre could be used appropriately to describe the solid, melodic hardcore music made by young bands such as Kalamazoo's own Mulligan - a three-piece consisting of dual vocalists Jakob Goheen (guitar) and Derek Feltner (bass) and drummer Dustin Smith. Like its first EP, Hearts On Fire, Mulligan's latest, Grey Vs. Black is filled with tinkling guitar runs and heartfelt, gut-wrenched vocals. The sound is similar to the material dominating Brand New's breakthrough Deja Entendu on tracks like "Tinfoil". - Recoil Magazine, June 2004


The Tides of Blackheart Bay (2005)
Grey vs. Black EP (2004)
Hearts on Fire EP (2002)
So Long Happiness EP (2000)


Feeling a bit camera shy


Starting over.

For some, it's a blessing. For others, it's heartbreaking.
For Kalamazoo, Michigan's Mulligan, it's old hat.

The members of Mulligan have had their share of fresh starts. Forming band after band and changing lineup after lineup, Jakob Goheen and Derek Feltner, are taking on the indie scene as a powerful threesome with a lot of heart. Mulligan has performed well over 300 shows in all parts of the US in the past five years with bands such as Murder By Death, Small Brown Bike, Cursive, Brandtson, and Blueprint Car Crash.

Their music is abrasive, yet harmonious. It's lawless, and at times comfortable. But the band's quiet melodies and ethereal guitar sound can't even begin to sugar-coat the raw emotion and last grasps that dominate Goheen's songwriting.

For him, the music is his diary of starting over.

Starting over from a listless time of lost love and insecurity.

The eleven tracks from the band's first full length album "The Tides of Blackheart Bay" are a collection of heartbroken mutterings and puzzled screams for help, comfort, or even at their best, more pain. The songs tell a story of desire, affliction, and quiet anger that ends in reluctant resolution.

And as many endings become, a new beginning.