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Jared & The Mill and Its Western Expansion Tour

Jared and The Mill, Interview

Having been longtime fans of Northern Hustle and Bears of Manitou, I was excited to see both would be supporting acts at a tour kick-off show for Jared & The Mill, local southern-folk boys from the city we all know and love: Phoenix.

I had a chance to sit down with Jared Kolesar, Larry Gast III, Chuck Morriss, and Josh Morin from the band to discuss their upcoming tour, radio, spirit animals, jazz, and Star Wars.

Read The Spec’s interview with Jared & The Mill, as well as a review of its Crescent Ballroom show below…

MK: Congratulations on your Western Expansion tour!
JK: Thank you!

You guys have done a western tour before, but this one is all American, all national. How many cities are you visiting?
JK: Yes, we’re going to at least 16 cities. Plus a week in Austin for SXSW. It’s so exciting!

I recently listened to KWSS a couple days ago where you guys performed a busking session.
CM: Anytime working with Beef [Vegan] is a great time. He’s just so full of personality and love and wonder.

JK: KWSS was the first station to really start playing our music, so it’s really cool to have that kind of history with a local producer.

LG: It’s awesome going to Beef’s house because we all just get into his living room and crowd around all the microphones and then just play.

JK: I used to be so awful at the whole radio thing because I used to be so conscious, but as soon as you just relax and realize that they’re still human beings that you’re talking to and not computers, it’s way easier.

Along with KWSS, you guys have exposure on 103.9FM, which is a station that plays Top 40 hits (Katy Perry, Justin Timberlake, etc.). How did Jared & the Mill happen upon that station?
JK: When 103.9 used to be The Edge, and then The X, every so often when a band caught their attention, they would support that band in any way possible. That would be playing them on the radio at decent hours, helping them get on support spots for national acts, and pushing their events selflessly. That same initiative has been rekindled in Trending Radio My 103.9 and for whatever reason, they chose us.

You guys have multiple crazy instruments going on, like banjo and mandolin and accordion, is that correct?
JK: Accordion is not with us right now. He is on hiatus right now because he’s in Brazil. He’s there because his wife got a scholarship doing research in Brazil.

You guys are playing more out-of-state shows this year than in state. What are your plans?
JK: Those are the hopes. We’re doing this run, which will end in March. Then, we want to have another run in April, maybe as a support tour or headlining again, and that will end in May where we have a stop booked in Austin for Jeff Foxworthy Redfest with Tim McGraw, Florida-Georgia Line and Lynyrd Skynyrd.

Are you guys going to cover “Sweet Home Alabama” or “Freebird” before you go on stage?
JK: I always wondered if people would yell “Freebird” to Lynyrd Skynyrd in hopes of them playing it.

LG: It’s like a classic Arizona song.

Your next Arizona show is at McDowell Mountain Music Festival in March where your tour will end. How do you think that will go?
JK: I’m super excited. We’re playing with Allen Stone. He has the voice of a baby angel.

LG: We came across him last year in Austin and he’s a soul singer from Washington.

JK: I don’t think he knows we exist, but I can’t wait to play the festival with him.

What is your karaoke jam?
CM:I Believe I Can Fly” by R. Kelly or “Take On Me” by A-Ha.

JK:I Feel Like a Woman” by Shania Twain. And my cousin was the drummer for A-Ha.

LG:Sweet Home Alabama.”

As the interview continued, we discussed listening to jazz and rocking out, our spirit animals (Jared is Larry’s, and Larry is Jared’s), and the religious aspects of Star Wars.

For an all ages show, it really embraced the term “all ages” and I’m not talking about the younger end of the spectrum. Even the music for in between acts was hits from the 70s and 80s. People in their mid-40s started showing up and ordering their glasses of wine early. It’s a common practice when a band is celebrating a tour kickoff or a release of an album: parents want to support their kids. No matter how old the musician is, parents want to come out, feel like they fit in with their alcoholic beverages and skinny jeans, take pictures of their talented child and make sure that everyone knows they made that piece of rock star. It’s adorable and was definitely nice to see the support all the bands received from their family and friends.

I had never listened to Old Hours before, but I had seen the name on flyers around town. It wasn’t until I got to the venue that I realized I actually had friends who are in this band (ok, they’re my boyfriend’s friends…so they’re my friends, right?) How had I not been to one of their shows before? Old Hours is five guys and one girl with the traditional male lead on acoustic guitar with female harmonies, drummer, electric guitar player, and a banjo player and lap-steel player. The band sounds like a mix of The Lumineers, The Head & The Heart, and some of the more lighter stuff from My Morning Jacket. All in all, Old Hours played intimate and lovely songs, the kind you can slow dance to without falling asleep. I am now a fan.

Northern Hustle started its set with “Y’all like music? ‘Cause we’re about to do it!” The band jumped right into its familiar groove: Drew and Jon courting each other with guitars while Brad and Max get down and dirty on the percussive ornamentation. Northern Hustle The energy on stage is magnetic. What I cannot seem to understand is how someone can stand perfectly still during a Northern Hustle set. While the boys played songs from their first album, Forgether, they also debuted some new songs from their upcoming album, Waveson. One thing that always brings me back to Northern Hustle is the band’s motto: “Be excellent to each other,” which is plastered on Drew’s guitar. These guys are truly, genuinely excellent people, and I would be more than happy to cover their music and attend a show of theirs any day. I know what the payment is to get them to play: Drew mentioned, “If you have beer, we’ll play music,” in response to them playing a lot of house shows and smaller venues.

By the time Bears of Manitou hit the stage, Crescent was almost completely full. Everyone was just having a good time: dancing, drinking, laughing. Everyone was everyone’s friend. Actually, I ran Bears of Manitouinto so many people that I knew from the music scene, from mutual friends, and even Instagram. I think the sense of community made the show that much more enjoyable. During Bears’ set, they played classics from Origins, as well as a new song where Maria whipped out a harmonica and impressed everyone (it’s already enough that she’s gorgeous and has a beautiful voice, but now she can play harmonica like no one’s business? Damn, girl.). Gabe had mentioned “We are recording the show tonight, so you guys be on your best behavior,” and videographers would pass by and blend in with the crowd. The band received lots of love from the audience, and its stage presence was friendly, yet professional. On a new song they played, they sang a lyric that stuck out to me, “It never lasts a lifetime, but we gave it a hell of a try.” I don’t know what “it” is; could be a relationship, a band, or even a lifestyle choice. But sometimes it’s ok to admit when you’ve screwed up, and this song tugged at my heart.  During the last song, “City By the Sea,” Chuck from Jared & The Mill commented to me, “These guys need to play more. I don’t see them play enough.” And I agree.

When Jared & The Mill came out after much anticipation, the audience immediately went crazy. I mean, for a Thursday night, this place was packed. That’s always a great sight to see at local shows. Jared & The Mill have the vibe of Good Old War and Band of Horses, with a little bit of southwestern edge. Whenever Josh came forward to play washboard, everyone got excited. Jared & The Mill When Jared sang, “It’s a perfect night to be here in our youth,” everyone believed him. Their four-part harmonies were impeccably on point, which goes to show that practice really does make perfect. Even Michael’s banjo solo had that WOW factor. Jared’s very supportive of his band mates; whenever someone takes the lead on a solo, he acknowledges them and steps back and lets them shine. There were some die-hard fans in the front, singing and fist-pumping and dancing along to every word. “Breathe Me In” was definitely the crowd favorite. Jared continually thanked everyone for coming out and supporting their tour kickoff and even said “I’m very proud to be from this city.”

This show was amazing. First, the lineup was unbeatable with so many extremely talented musicians. Then, you throw in quite possibly the best venue in town and add the support from friends and family. But when it comes down to it, everyone was truly excellent to each other. I never saw an argument or a fight happen last night, which is unfortunately common at shows. Each and every person, whether you knew them or not, extended a hand of friendship and bonding over music and people they love. Phoenix really is a special place for the music community.

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