In the golden morning sun of Jared & The Mill banjo/mandolin player Michael Carter’s Tempe backyard, the Phoenix-based folk band begins their fraternal cajoling with the regularity of an act that has spent the past year incessantly touring — which they have. When we last checked in with Jared & The Mill, the band was acting as tour support for Barry Gibb, playing a handful of arenas around the country. Their trajectory has slowed little since then, building into a festival-ready group that’s still just at home in the club setting.
Part of retaining their Arizonan roots has the band partaking in community-based events, such as the Chipotle Cultivate Music Festival last month along MS MR, and showing their support for the same community with shows like their Phoenix Children’s Hospital benefit concert with Rachael Platten this Saturday at the Marquee Theatre. Sponsored by 103.9, the station that has spun the most Jared & The Mill singles locally, it’s a small token of the band’s appreciation for a city that’s backed them wholeheartedly.
“We wanted to give back to an organization that does so much for the city like Phoenix Children’s Hospital,” says Jared Kolesar, the namesake frontman of the band, over breakfast a couple hours later. “It’s important that we do justice to our roots. I don’t really ever see myself leaving Arizona.”
Keeping in line with their growth, Kolesar and the band have seemingly spent more time on the road this past year than they have at home, crisscrossing the nation on several occasions while undergoing the tribulations that come with such travel. There was the van’s transmission that ate itself in Atlanta, the night playing to no more than six people in Des Moines, and the requisite breakups that accompany such grueling tour bouts. Frustrations and heartache translated into the band’s recent Life We Chose EP, a name that acts as response to those who would otherwise question the band’s sanity after reading the list of roadblocks above.
“We’ve all come together and blended better as musicians,” Kolesar explains. “Our writing process has become more natural as we move along.” Carter chimes in: “There’s a lot more songs about loss and things like that. We took the palette we always had and wrapped it around heavier things that kind of developed on their own.”
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With support slots for Darius Rucker and Zac Brown Band in the past year’s rearview, and the recent announcement of yet another Summerfest slot and a coveted Life Is Beautiful set recently announced, it would seem that Jared & The Mill could be called Phoenix’s latest national act, but Kolesar feels that the band is a ways away from that point. Rather, he’s more concerned with the full-length expansion of Life We Chose into the band’s follow-up to their debut, 2013’s Western Expansion. If there’s one lesson the band has learned over the last year, however, it’s that one’s nose is best kept to the grindstone.
“It’s not hard to stay modest because the road will beat it out of you,” Carter says. Though the band has been afforded a bevy of opportunities, the band doesn’t write their own endgame and instead elects to stay on the road and learn from their experiences. “You’re almost forced to stay humble,” Kolesar says. “We just try to keep our heads down and our shoulders moving forward.”