The journey of a full-time musician

Chris Mulally travels from Bremerton’s open mic circuit to label owner/frontman.

Chris Mulally travels from Bremerton’s open mic circuit to label owner/frontman.

Chris Mulally, the mastermind of the Mulally project, is of a rare breed.

He’s a full-time musician, blue collar, working odd jobs to make ends meet while focusing his energy on making quality art and running a record label he’s created while living and jamming in the city.

It all began in Bremerton with a demo and a dream, Mulally recalls.

He returned to those proverbial stomping grounds this past weekend for a show at the Manette with an old friend, another starving artist type, Bub Pratt. Both stringers have, in the past couple of years, quit their day jobs and are trying to pay the bills with their respective guitar and/or keyboards.

It’s refreshing to see both staying true to the purist intent of being a full-time musician.

“Bub’s doing really well making a living at it,” Mulally noted of Pratt, the Bremerton-based teacher and performer. “I’m not … I’m so focused right now on just creating good art, that I’m not really all that focused on making money … I don’t want to get caught up in that dichotomy that once you become a working musician you have to compromise your art.”

While he grew up in Seattle, a little more than five years ago, Mulally was working his first real job out of Evergreen College as a general assignment reporter at the Bremerton Patriot newspaper. A reporter by day, he was a fledgling rocker by night, frequenting the open mic scene and gleaning inspiration, influence and know-how from old salty Bremertonian musicians like Scott Rowhein, Scooter Haslip and Mike Frottage.

Shortly after the realization that he probably couldn’t make it as a full-time musician on this side of the water, Mulally recorded an album in his apartment overlooking Evergreen Park in Bremerton and then packed his bags for the city, where he envisioned a band would be waiting in some incarnation.

Back then, his project was called Brothers Japan, just himself on piano.

“Then, I was just like (forget) it, I’m just going to write all the music and then go find the musicians to play it,” he said, evoking his determination. “So then it just turned into the Mulally project.”

Upon moving to Seattle, Mulally said he spent the first year or so wandering from show to show with a demo, asking musicians around the city if they’d want to be a part of his project.

With patience and perseverance, while he worked through two years at a major corporation to fund his future as a full-time musician, the emotionally charged six-piece incarnation of Mulally, which we saw at the Manette last Friday, slowly came to be as a group of good friends formed around the music.

“Our whole goal is to just make really incredible music and make music that no one has heard before,” Mulally said. “I’m tired of going to see shows and seeing the same old type of guitar-led rock songs. And so, one of the things we didn’t do for a long time is we had no lead guitar player.”

Taking influence from some of Mulally’s band’s favorite music growing up, like The Doors, the Mulally project aims for the beat of a different drum, which they seem to have found. It’s not a band in which every chorus sounds the same, it’s not a band that’s sucking on the trends of today or taking a trail that’s already been blazed.

With a west coast tour and three albums under his belt in the past three years, Mulally is blazing a trail of its own.

Info: Mulally’s online at or on MySpace at