Good music seeps into your soul—becoming a tangible part of you, that shapes and inspires, transporting you to a place where you feel whole and alive—even if just for those three minutes and twenty-nine seconds. Hailing from Phoenix, Arizona, the band Jared & The Mill doesn’t make good music. They make great music. The kind of music that makes you listen and think, while simultaneously taking over your limbs on the dance floor. On a sunny autumn afternoon in Greeley, Colorado, I caught up with the band to learn the secrets to making great music, and to see it manifest live later that evening at the Moxi Theater—an intimate venue located in the city’s downtown drag.
Perhaps the most important ingredient to Jared & The Mill’s growing success is the band’s beginnings. In some way or another, every member of the band boasts a friendship that dates back to when the now twenty-somethings were just “wee tots.” Lead singer, Jared Kolesar, and banjo player, Michael Carter, have a friendship that spans more than a decade. Same goes for guitarist, Larry Gast III, and drummer, Josh Morin. Chuck Morriss III became one of the final pieces to the band’s cohesive puzzle, thanks to a longtime family friendship with Gast’s family. Rounding out the crew, but no longer touring with the band, is Gabe Hall Rodrigues, an accordion player that adds a hauntingly beautiful western vibe to the band’s unique tunes.
And that’s how it all began—the story of six talented musicians, singers and friends that came together in 2011 and would go on to find their sound in the classrooms and nearby bars at Arizona State University—eventually all choosing to turn the band into a career after graduation.
As we chat about life on the road, and the band’s current national tour, pre-show sunlight streams into the room, adding another bright layer of lightheartedness that seems to follow the fun-loving group of friends wherever they go. I ask about musicians and bands that have influenced their sound, and they ask me how much time I have. Their eventual answers are as eclectic and diverse as each member’s individual style. Bob Dylan’s iconic songwriting is an answer. Names of classic country artists like Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard are agreed on by all. Someone casually mentions Blink 182. Experiences from their many national tours over the past few years are cited as influences. It’s the band member’s different tastes and styles that make Jared & The Mill’s music so exciting—giving it depth and soul. Playing all original music, the band seamlessly moves from country, to rock, to folk—often times—all within the same song. Call it Americana, or Western Indie Rock—call it what you will, Jared & The Mill’s music is a gritty fabric of well-written poetry. It’s a bunch of heartfelt tales told by a group of skilled storytellers. Their intense passion for their songs continuously captivate live audiences across the country. For most of the band members, their love of music started very early on at home. A few went on to study music in college. All members contributing in some way to the songwriting process and the definition of the band’s evolving sound.
Later in the evening, the band looks right at home beneath the bright lights of the stage at the Moxi. But a few songs into their set, that same stage is empty. The lights in the theater dimmed so low, only the buzzing neon light from a light-up cactus on stage gives away the band’s location down in the attentive crowd in front of the stage. The darkness become’s the microphone, amplifying their impeccable harmonies to the fans joined together by hands, swaying together in unison around them. Completely unplugged, the band croons a vulnerable version of “Western Expansion”, the title track from their inaugural full-length album released in 2013. Promoting positivity and love, the band plays another tune before Kolesar ends their impromptu jam with: “hug someone you’ve never met before,” and the bands returns to the stage and their amps, and let loose a handful of solo riffs that re-ignite the energy in the room.
Currently on tour promoting their latest album, Orme Dugas, Jared & The Mill is headed west to finish out their last tour dates of the year. Check out the band’s collection of albums and EP’s on Spotify, and keep an eye out for new music and new tour dates to be announced in 2017.