Jared Kolesar (vox, acoustic guitar), Michael Carter (banjo, mandolin), Larry Gast III (guitar), Chuck Morriss III (bass), and Josh Morin (drums) have been doing their musical thing as Arizona’s Jared & the Mill since 2011. With the release of their 5-song EP Orme Dugas in September are set to embark upon a huge tour in support of the EP and their brand of Americana indie-rock. Supporting them at various stops along the way will be the following cast of characters: The Kolars, Air Traffic Controller, The Rocketboys, Canyon Spells and Silver & Gold.
Even though Jared & the Mill are seasoned tour pros, touring is an art and a science of the music business and some musicians do it better than others. So we had a few questions for frontman Jared Kolesar about life on the road, memories, and the band even compiled a special tour Spotify playlist just for us (which Josh chimes in on) because #Tourhappens…
High Voltage: Summertime means tour time and you guys aren’t playing around with your massive string of dates starting in June and into September: What the hell? Yes that’s an actual question, but so is what are you really looking forward to on this tour and where does sleep factor into the program?
Jared Kolesar: Being on the road so much, you learn to ignore these silly impulsive desires like sleep, or rest, or sitting down, etc. We fill our time not playing music by eating, walking around whatever town we’re in, or playing pool. This tour, we’re really looking forward to eating at our favorite restaurants around the nation, visiting with old friends, making new friends, and seeing how the current social climate in America affects the way people live their lives around the nation. It’s a really interesting time in history to be traveling around in a van and seeing all these different cities and states.
HV: Connecting with folks especially during this a unique time in this country; definitely. Yes, tour life can be fun but the real of it is that being on the road for long periods of time is hard work: whether it’s being away from family and friends or being crammed into a van like sardines, your chosen profession does take its toll on a body. Give me three of the best things about being on tour and three of the most difficult.
The 3 best things are as follows:
Eating: We get to enjoy the most legitimate dishes of all varieties, whether it’s Dim Sum in NYC’s Chinatown, spaghetti & meatballs in Little Italy in San Fransisco, or tacos 40 minutes north of the Mexico boarder, we get to enjoy the culinary gems in America. I’ve spoken alot about food, I’ll try to stop now.
Meeting people: This is a massive country – like really big – it’s crazy, sometimes, to think driving through the bayou, that you’re in the same country as the snowy misty mountains outside of Seattle. Being out on the road offers us the perspective of many: there’s a lot of division in America right now. It’s painful to witness our massive nation being torn apart by the few, but being a bunch of wanderers in a van, we’ve had the opportunity to see the differences and similarities between very different people. It makes the world seem simpler and far more complex, all at the same time.
Independence: We’re away from home the majority of the year. We graduated from college and started hitting it pretty hard right away; being so far away from home all the time calls for an independence that was never really been required for us before. Between arguing with promoters twice your age about payment and dealing with a busted transmission on the side of the road, there isn’t really anybody you can call for help from thousands of miles away, we run into problems and have to figure things out on our own, which is pretty eye opening. It’s rad to gain little skills like backing up trailers in the snow, or how to cure stomach pain with things found behind any bar.
The 3 most difficult things:
Missing out: There are a lot of things we’re glad we’re able to be around for on the road, but it’s really hard to not be around for friends’ weddings, or to see family members being born. We’ve given up a lot in pursuing our career as a band.
Being sick: It’s really tough getting sick on the road; the lack of sleep and the constant moving around between climates and elevation makes it hard for the body to fight colds, flus, etc. Plus, we’re never more than 20ft away from each other when we’re out, so when one person gets sick, it’s nearly impossible to keep it isolated.
Keeping spirits up: A reality of being a young touring band is that you spend a lot of time being immobile and being left to your own thoughts. it’s good for introspections, but sometimes if you’re sick, and you’re coming off a shitty string of shows, and got your computer stolen when the van got broken into, it’s really hard not to get down and wonder what the hell you’re doing with your life. The lack of sleep and cabin fever doesn’t help either. Luckily, we’re really good friends and can confide in one another, and cheer one another up pretty well.
Jared: Oh man…our first run was a little jaunt though southern California with a buddy’s band from Santa Barbara. It felt like we had the world on a string, we had done pretty well in Phoenix, and we were excited to show the world what we were made of, we were wide eyed, hopeful, excited, nervous…it was a beautiful start to our relationship with the road. We played a show in Orange County in a little sake bar and the only other person, besides band members, was the bartender and he didn’t like our music very much. It’s a hilarious moment to look back on after selling out a show across the country from home, but at the time it was a pretty wack feeling.
HV: I’m almost positive that that experience is a mandatory event in every band’s life. When you reach the point of say, 9 hours on the road, what do the road conversations start to sound like?
Jared: They start to sound pretty crazy. We start asking questions that don’t make a whole lot of sense. Example: Would you rather have finger-sized legs or leg-sized fingers?
HV: What are some of your tour do’s and don’ts?
Do’s: Eat healthy when you can, shower when you can, get away from the band for a few hours when able, call your mom/dad and let ’em know you’re not dead, download podcasts…many of them, make sacrifices to the tour gods (Steven and Derek) often, get the parking meter apps.
Don’ts: Don’t eat “the best bbq in the world” (every place has it and bbq is not good for you 5 days in a row), don’t take the call during soundcheck, don’t expect the meal to be quick, don’t expect a great show, don’t leave the band if your phone is out of charge, don’t cough or sneeze into your hand, don’t keep funny memes to yourself, don’t be rude to the sound engineer, don’t not make sacrifices to the tour gods often.
HV: Thin Lizzy, James Taylor, Kendrick Lamar, Death Cab For Cutie…your Spotify Tour Happens playlist is steeped in being wonderfully damned diverse but here’s the thing: Stevie Wonder’s Songs In The Key of Life is and will always be one of my desert island disks til the day I die! Who contributed “Summer Soft” and why?
Josh: I chose this song mostly for the vibe. The chorus just pops. Larry and I have discovered that on late night drives the best music to keep you up have key changes. The end of “Summer Soft” has four key changes in a row, making it a perfect antidote to tired nights.
HV: For those who have not had the pleasure yet (but surely will), describe the Jared & the Mill live experience.
Jared: We have a lot of things going on during our show, between yelling “Fuck yeah” and putting your arms around complete strangers and singing with us at the top of your lungs while we play acoustic songs in the middle of the crowd…there’s something for everybody. Come to the show, brings friends, bring your grandma, and bring your dancing boots because we will legitimately convince you to have a good time.
HV: Been there, done that, and I can confirm that a damned good was had. Are there any particular songs from Orme Dugas that are your favorites to play live?
Jared: “Keep Me Going” is a pretty hype song to play, the crowd is usually pretty excited to sing along, too, so thats cool. Something happens in the room when we play “Lost, Scared, and Tired”; I can’t really explain it beyond letting you know that you’ll feel it when you witness it. Also “Still Alone” is too much fun to play just cuz it’s such a rocker. “Song For A Girl” is total vibe when we have everybody singing with us in the crowd. Also “Ghosts” is pure energy; it’s completely electric in the air when you feel it. So to answer your question, they’re all the favorites.
HV: That’s fair. Finally, what are some lessons that you’ve all learned about touring over the years? Anything that touring has taught you about yourselves?
Jared: Like I said earlier, touring has forced us to grow up in a way that was never really offered to us back home, solving problems without a help line and seeing the fruits of our labor is such a gift. It has also kept our inner child intact because, at the end of the day, tour is a complete drag if you’re not having fun, so we’ve learned to keep spirits high despite all the challenges we face.
Jared & the Mill are coming for you, America, so don’t hide your wives, your husbands or your children! Check out their summer tour dates HERE and dig in and crank up their fantastic Tour Happens Spotify playlist featuring songs from Bruce Springsteen, The Beatles, Ryan Adams, The Weeknd, Mazzy Star and more.