Road warriors Jared & The Mill know that van life isn’t easy. So they keep some essentials handy to remind the band of home.
“On the dashboard, we have a stack of Polaroids we’ve taken on the road and at home of friends, each other, venues …” bassist Chuck Morriss III says.
“There’s also a slew of little figurines we’ve found at gas stations and from home displayed on the dash,” he says. “One is ‘Dr. Mike’; he’s kind of a mascot we’ve had sitting up there since our very first tour.”
“Dr. Mike” has clocked a lot of miles riding along with the Phoenix quintet, who — alongside extensive headlining tours — have an impressive resume of opening slots for bands including The Killers, Zac Brown Band, and The War on Drugs.
Over the years, Jared & The Mill’s constant touring has informed other aspects of the band’s career and become a cornerstone by which they operate, even when they’re in the studio.
“There’s a magic and chemistry that can only be captured when we track live,” guitarist Larry Gast III says. (Yes, two members use that suffix.) “I think some of our best takes come out when we’re all in the room together.”
The band stepped into Gatos Trail Studio in Joshua Tree, California, in late August to record a new album that’s slated for release in spring 2018. It’s the follow-up to 2016’s Orme Dugas EP. Although not too far from home, the change of scenery made an impact.
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“It very much feels like the music we’re trying to capture matches our surrounding environment,” Gast says. “Nothing sets the vibe better than sunset over the expansive Joshua Tree desert.”
Getting away and spending time in the middle of nowhere has been helpful, he adds, because there are no distractions.
For Jared & The Mill, recording time is often the only respite from their breakneck tour schedule. But they’re making it a point to slow down and explore where they are now and what kind of band they want to be in the future.
“It’s starting to sound like a very honest and real version of us,” singer and guitarist Jared Kolesar says.
They also have more opportunity to hang out together as friends during that downtime.
“To be honest, the studio stays relatively focused, but there have been some pretty entertaining nights at the house we are staying at,” Morriss says. “Most of those stories fall under the category of ‘you had to be there,’ but highlights include pickle-juice martinis, watching Queen at Live Aid on a projector by the pool for the 100th time, and drunken kitchen island singalongs.”
Finding a balance between work and winding down should help as the band gear up for a tour overseas at the end of October. But first, they’ll headline a special show at The Van Buren on September 23, alongside recent tour mates KOLARS and rising locals Bear Ghost and Luxxe.
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As for other local bands hoping to follow their path, Kolesar recommends taking it one step at a time, but with eyes set firmly on the future.
“You take [your music] to Flagstaff, Tucson, and Prescott, and you just do that over and over again for a long time, pushing a little farther out every time,” Kolesar says.
“Eventually you’ll find yourself in Portland, Maine, wondering what happened to the last four years of your life. It’s hard work, but there’s no shortcut to success worth taking.”
Jared and the Mill are scheduled to play The Van Buren on Saturday, September 23, with KOLARS, Bear Ghost, and Luxxe. Tickets are available for $17 to $32 on Ticketweb.