With an Arizona fan base that is steadily increasing, the indie folk band will spend the weeks leading up to the album release playing shows in Cottonwood and Flagstaff and then kicking off a tour at the Sail Inn in Tempe on Sept. 19. The band will then hit the hot spots of the western U.S., making its way over to Texas before heading up to Washington and back down through California.
The stops on the tour couldn’t be more fitting for the western-influenced folk rock album.
“It’s very Americana, kind of southwest folk. It’s also got some old country influence and even some spaghetti western guitar,” said Michael Carter, who plays mandolin and banjo. “We’re all from Arizona and the West, and that’s what influences our music. And besides that we just play what we love to play.”
Singer/songwriter Jared Kolesar said that the 12-track album is composed of both old and new songs.
“We’ve got songs on there that we’ve played for years and songs that weren’t written until a month before we recorded,” Kolstar said. “This album is about where we’ve been, where we are and where we are going.”
As far as acts that influence it, the six-man band has too many to name. Kolesar mentioned Bob Dylan, Joe Pug, The Beatles and Simon & Garfunkel, but “across the board, there are just way too many.”
Although its influences come in a wide variety, Jared & The Mill’s sound is similar to that of other folk rock artists such as Mumford & Sons or The Lumineers, but neither of those bands have the authenticity that these ASU alumni get from having that western upbringing in Arizona.
“That’s what sets us apart from those bands,” Kolesar said. “We’re from here and we all grew up here.”
Being compared to Mumford & Sons is something the band members expect because the type of music is so specific, but in no way does that offend them.
“Of course we want to establish and maintain our individuality, but it’s a great compliment to be compared to them,” Carter said.
Before “Western Expansion,” the guys only had an EP released in 2012 under their belt.
“The step from an EP to a full album is one that fans have much anticipated and because it was such a leap, they were blown away,” Kolesar said.
In regards to watching the band’s fan base grow: “It’s been surreal,” Carter said. “It’s so neat to have the support of your town.”
The listening party at Handlebar served as the perfect setting for the guys to mingle and hang out with fans. According to Kolesar, keeping a personal relationship with fans is one of the most important things.
“One of the perks of being able to do things like this is that it gives us such an easy access to make friends. And we love making friends,” Kolesar said.
“Fans are the most important thing for a band,” band manager Travis Alexander said. “Humbleness is something that people gravitate to, and they’ve got that.”
Alexander met the band when circumstance put him in a car with it en route to South by Southwest in March.
“It was a seven-hour drive from Flagstaff to Albuquerque, and it was seven hours of them practicing harmonies,” Alexander said. “That’s when I knew I had to stick to these guys.”
At the rate they’re going, it’ll only be a matter of time before Jared Kolesar, Michael Carter, Chuck Morriss III, Josh Morin, Larry Gast III and Gabe Hall Rodriguez see some eastern expansion and Jared & The Mill becomes the band to whom the next “indie folkers” get compared.
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