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Not so soft

Local trio pens bittersweet ballads with plenty of bite

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 20/4/2016 (1370 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

There are really only two types of people in the world: dreamers and realists. Most people who dive into a creative profession would classify themselves as the former, but the members of local trio Mulligrub would certainly not be among them.

Though they are excitedly preparing to release their debut LP, Soft Grudge, they have no delusions of grandeur. Their demeanour is almost comically humble — all three 20-somethings shrug when asked if the end goal is to make music a full-time career.

"I don’t really think we’ll make any money on this; I kind of doubt it," says vocalist, guitar player and principal songwriter Kelly Campbell with a laugh. "I don’t think we think we’re going to be propelled into stardom and then not have to work.

"I don’t think it works like that, though, that you have one band and that’s what you do. I don’t think many people do that. If you were in Coldplay, maybe the band is your only job, but for most people who play music, it’s never like that, I would say," she continues.

"I guess we just have a realistic view of it," adds drummer J. Riley Hill with a chuckle.

Eric Roberts Photo</p><p>Mulligrub: from left, J. Riley Hill, Kelly Campbell and Mirella Villa.</p>

Eric Roberts Photo

Mulligrub: from left, J. Riley Hill, Kelly Campbell and Mirella Villa.

Self-described as "bittersweet (but mostly bitter), sad-sack anxiety-ballad experts," Campbell, Hill and bassist Mirella Villa have thoroughly embraced the pop-punk genre. Their penchant for penning songs about love lost and found avoids feeling overwrought or sappy, thanks to the raspy guitars, snappy percussion and Campbell’s warm, powerful voice driving the melody.

From writing to recording to production, Soft Grudge was created almost entirely by Mulligrub; each member of the band has his or her own speciality.

On top of her songwriting duties, Campbell created all the album art and designed the website. As a recording engineer, Hill not only used his skills to record the album, but to mix and master it as well, which he says was a "silly thing to do." Villa handles all the PR and emailing, as well as injecting at least a little optimism into the group, which her bandmates appreciate endlessly.

"That’s the thing about our band — we did everything," says Hill.

"We’re pretty DIY... and we’re very tired," Campbell says with a laugh.

Eric Roberts photo</p><p>From left, Kelly Campbell, J. Riley Hill and Mirella Villa.</p>

Eric Roberts photo

From left, Kelly Campbell, J. Riley Hill and Mirella Villa.

Their goals for the album are, unsurprisingly, not lofty ones, but their casual approach is endearing.

Campbell and Hill would just be pleased if their friends like it (which they do, so far, Hill adds), while Villa’s slightly grander desire is that the emotion in the lyrics and the amount of care and time put into creating the record is able to create a connection with some listeners.

"I just hope people really enjoy it and that is resonates with them in some way," she says. "I really want a lot of people to love it."

Mulligrub will mark the release of Soft Grudge Saturday, April 23, with a show at the Good Will Social Club featuring two other well-known local groups — garage-pop duo Cannon Bros. and pop-rock threesome Animal Teeth — before heading out on their first big solo tour in May and June.

erin.lebar@freepress.mb.caTwitter: @NireRabel

Erin Lebar

Erin Lebar
Multimedia producer

Erin Lebar is a multimedia producer who spends most of her time writing music- and culture-related stories for the Arts & Life section. She also co-hosts the Winnipeg Free Press's weekly pop-culture podcast, Bury the Lede.

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Updated on Wednesday, April 20, 2016 at 2:08 PM CDT: Adds video.

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