Jared & The Mill are a Phoenix, Arizona based indie folk band and group of best friends turned brothers that have been playing together since 2011. Comprised of Jared Kolesar, Michael Carter, Larry Gast III, Chuck Morris III, Josh Morin, and Gabe Hall-Rodrigues, the group came together organically over time, but the guys rapidly formed a bond as a group. After getting together, Jared & The Mill spent a few years honing their talents on stage and releasing their 2013 effort Western Expansion.
Things picked up quickly for the band. They describe their rise to fame as an opportunity that saw them playing for fifty fans in a bar one night, and then following up their performance the next night with a show in front of 18,000. As they have worked together on a series of releases and tours, the guys have grown very close and now identify as brothers. Earlier this month Jared & The Mill released their second EP, Life We Chose, and they are currently embarked upon a North American tour in support of the release. Not a bad place to be by the sounds of it!
FDRMX had the opportunity to chat with the guys of Jared & The Mill about their current tour, past experiences on the road, their evolution as a bad, and recording and promoting Life We Chose! We also talked about how to ensure that you eat a well-rounded diet while on the road and dream musical collaborations that they would love to experience first hand.
The first thing I wanted to ask Jared & The Mill about was how it felt to look back on their exponential growth over the last few years. Jared summed it up pretty nicely by claiming that it has been “an incredible, fast, and inspiring four years.” He added “we’ve grown as men, brothers, and musicians together and it’s been a sick adventure to be on with one another.” The guys have commented that their bond after the experiences transcends friendship and enters the brotherhood territory. Josh summed up working with his best friends nicely; “it creates a really positive place for us to work together. We all understand that we are pushing towards the same goal and trying to become the best musicians we can be.”
Jared & The Mill kicked off their current tour on April 16 with a show in Denver. How are things going so far? Chuck says the experience has been “great,” adding “we’ve had some really pleasant surprises in terms of turn out at shows in markets we haven’t played before.” I was curious if there was anywhere that they were most looking forward to seeing, and Chuck had somewhere in mind. “This is always a hard question to answer, because we legitimately just love traveling. There are a ton of great places in this fine nation, but if I had to pick one place I am always excited to visit it’s Chiriaco Summit.”
Since Jared & The Mill consider themselves family, I got to thinking about travelling with my family. It can be a lot of fun, but those extended trips can get a little trying on your nerves to say the least. Is it the same for them? According to Gabe, “things can get a little hectic although everyone is generally very respectful of each other. We know when we are getting stressed out, usually from not enough rest, and we try our best to not push everyone’s buttons too hard.” Making it even better “we laugh a lot though and it helps to break up and bad vibes or if people are getting too stressed out.” Sounds like any family trip. There is a little give, a little take, a lot of laughter, and even more love.
Over the last four years the band has been on a variety of tours, opening for acts such as Zac Brown Band, Flogging Molly, The Killers, and Barry Gibb. I was curious if opening for such a diverse group of artists had influenced their sound at all, and Josh thought so. “Going on tour with different bands allows you several opportunities to really take in their music and get a feel for their songs.” One tour that seemed to have the largest affect on him was their experience with Barry Gibb. “I remember waking up the mornings after a concert and signing almost every song from his set, looking forward to the next concert.”
Are there any other artists that had a lasting affect on the guys? Sure, according to Larry. “As a band we really look to some of the great songwritiers and vocal groups of the late sixties and seventies. A few of our favorites are Crosby, Stills and Nash, Neil Young, The Beach Boys, and Simon and Garfunkel, but we also have a few contemporary artists that we are totally into like Bahamas, Blake Mills and Boy and Bear.” And Larry had a few dream collaborations for Jared & The Mill. “I think it would be super cool to collaborate with Ryan Adams but ya know, who wouldn’t think that.” He also had a few ideas for a “collaborative record between Jimi Hendrix and John Coltrane,” and let’s just say that he felt pretty passionate about the whole experience, claiming that he “would give Chuck’s left foot” to hear that happen. Gotta love brotherly love!
Before any big show, the guys like to get together for a special handshake, that Jared attributes to Mike for creating. “We have a thumb rocketship handshake that we all get together and do before we go on.” Although he can’t trace it back to a specific night, his best guess is that Mike had the idea one night when the guys “were in a funk, and Mike made it up to make us laugh. Regardless it stuck, and now it’s kind of our thing.”
One thing the guys love most about being on the road is the food! “We’ve been eating a lot of pho and Thai food, so you know things are really going great,” they had explained when I asked how their experience had been on the road. If they ever get tired of touring, I’d say that they could have a lucrative career as dieticians. “It’s very important that you eat more Thai food, peanut butter, and crepes.” Tell it like it is guys!
Right now, Jared & The Mill are supporting their current album Life We Chose while on their tour. The EP was released earlier this year and is the follow up to their previous Western Expansion. I was wondering if the band thinks their sound evolved between releases, and Larry thought the answer was a hopeful yes. “I think it’s important for ourselves as artists to push and expand our musical vocabulary while retaining who we are.” He explained that “I think we were able to recreate the essence of that first record while still pushing forward to innovate and reinterpret our sound. Larry referenced a more homogenized sound, as well as a goal of pushing forward and improving the band’s craft as their central drive.
Gabe commented that the band was so excited to get the music out, especially as they were putting the finishing touches on the album. “The finishing touches were pretty minimal. The recording went really well, so any changes were just personal preference type stuff. We’re all really proud of how everything sounded, so I think we were mostly just psyched to get it out to the public.”
According to Jared the album’s lead single “Hold On” was the “obvious pick” for the band. “We’ve grown so much as artists and musicians, and this song showcases how we’ve developed with our Americana, folk-rock, and western sounds.” Even better, “it’s the catchiest earworm of the bunch,” at least in their opinion. The single was recently supported by a music video, shot in Northern Arizona over the course of three days by the band’s close friend Cole Kiburz of Kachina Collective. Michael recollected the shoot as a hectic but fun time for the guys. “We knew the areas we wanted to shoot in, and we knew we wanted the video to give a good and honest sense of our home, but what we didn’t really expect was to meet so many kind people along the way.” For him, a special moment was a repeated scene of the band singing with people they met along the way.
He explained the joy that the band found in the process quite beautifully. “When you’re traveling around, its the people you meet and share things with that really make you remember and cherish those places later, and I guess its much the same for home – its the people you meet and love back in Arizona that make you miss it so damn much, and it was cool to see the video become more about the people and what really makes home then just a bunch of pretty shots of this landscape we come from. Our favorite moment was probably anything that happened to us in the town of Bisbee. It’s a beautiful and crazy place we won’t soon forget.”
I was curious if the band had any central message they liked to share with listeners, and Jared had an inspiring response. “I don’t know if it’s as much of a message as it is a spirit we hope to instill in our listeners. We live in an interesting time in the world and it’s important to keep your humanity and inner animal intact, which can be difficult because of how fast paced the human existence is in the 21st century. What I think we stand for is a culture in which people take time out of their day to tell their family and friends know how much they love them, or aren’t afraid to have a good conversation with the stranger at the bar, or ask somebody how their day is going and not be turned off when the reply isn’t just “good”. I think the spirit we want to evoke through our music is one of compassion, community, and upstandingness. Not in a Dudley Do-right way, but in a real way that accepts shortcomings, and supports growth in all things.”
Huge thanks to the guys of Jared & The Mill for taking the time to chat with us! You can follow up with the guys on their social media platforms! They can be found at their official website as well as at Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram. Pick up a copy of Life We Chose and check out their tour dates to see if you may be able to pick up tickets!