These days, Kevin Tully can be heard singing and playing guitar in Telethon, a Milwaukee/Chicago “hard pop” project that just released its fifth full-length. Before he was fronting the band responsible for Swim Out Past The Breakers—one of the best punk-adjacent releases of the year to this point—Tully was a curious kid in Delavan, Wisconsin who was listening to CDs left behind by his older siblings and teaching himself to play a guitar he found under his sister’s bed. Since that formative time, Tully has toured extensively, shared the stage with some notable punk and ska projects, and released dozens upon dozen of outstanding songs with some of his best friends.

Prior to today’s release of Swim Out Past The Breakers and next weekend’s belated release show at X-Ray Arcade, Tully talked to My First Band host Tyler Maas about the process of writing and recording the album in 2020, the story behind the record’s rather familiar name, and how it feels to finally be playing shows again. Of course, his previous projects (most of which also featured other current members of Telethon) came up, too. Over the course of the conversation, Tully opened up about his high school folk-punk band, formative concerts in rural Wisconsin legion halls and church basements, the project he dabbled in while away at college in Minnesota, his path back to music while living in California, and the start of the band that eventually turned into Telethon.

My First Band is sponsored by Mystery Room Mastering, Lakefront Brewery, and Music Go Round Greenfield. The show is edited by Jared Blohm. You can listen to My First Band on iTunes, Stitcher, Spotify, and wherever else you get podcasts. You can also listen to rebroadcasts of previous My First Band episodes on WMSE every Wednesday from noon to 12:30 p.m. CST. Music used in this episode comes courtesy of Devils Teeth (“The Junction Street Eight Tigers”) and Telethon (“Selfstarter A.E.”).