By Christina Fuoco-Karasinski
Relaxed in a black velvet chair backstage at The Listening Room, Jared Kolesar crosses his legs and pauses to consider what he thinks is “fancy.”
“I’m a regular cold brew guy,” Kolesar says smiling, while giving his Starbucks order. “The nitro is very fancy and I’m not a fancy person. My lassoing isn’t fancy. My cold brew isn’t fancy. My singing is kind of fancy. It inspires elegance.”
Kolesar is correct, but there’s a certain fanciness to him and his band, Jared and the Mill. With disheveled hair, Kolesar arrives to the photoshoot donning a mustard yellow jacket and jeans, acoustic guitar slung over his shoulder and a change of clothes. He needs a little time to wake up, hence the coffee.
Jared and the Mill is preparing to hit the road in support of This Story is No Longer Available, its second full-length album, which was released on February 15. The depth of the lyrics and the music by the five-member band makes it Jared and the Mill’s best.
“We’re going to release this record and tour our keisters off,” Kolesar says. “There’s not going to be a whole lot of downtime. We’re going to go all over the nation, into Canada and hopefully into Europe. We’re going to Asia to play for the Navy. It’s crazy.
“In 2018, we did our best to set ourselves up to make this record really work for us after we worked so much for it. 2019 is a year of action and getting to the next rung on the ladder, or hopefully a couple rungs up.”
Worth the trip
This Story is No Longer Available is a study in the experiences of the band, which also includes Michael Carter, Larry Gast III, Chuck Morriss III and Josh Morin. Jared and the Mill isn’t a concept band, but there’s a thread that runs throughout the album.
“This record is geared toward the idea of everybody has (crap) they’re dealing with,” Kolesar says. “The best thing we can do for ourselves is let go of the parts of us that maybe we aren’t huge fans of, and learn to deal with those factors within ourselves and try to be the best we can be in any regard.
“The songs are like trying to come to terms with the things we deal with in relation to mental health and the way we develop as a touring band. A lot of people identify with similar mindsets. They may not be touring musicians, but they feel and experience the road within their own lives.”
This Story is No Longer Available also tackles the subject of maturity.
“Growing up is really hard,” Kolesar says. “We identify as grownups and that’s what this record is about. We’re chiseling away to be the best form of ourselves, and accepting the things you may not be proud of.”
Kolesar grew up in Scottsdale, a fifth-generation Arizona rancher. He affectionately carries a beige hat that’s a replica of one owned by his grandfather.
“I wanted to be the crocodile hunter when I was a kid,” Kolesar says with a sly grin. “I have videos of me catching rattlesnakes and climbing all over the place and chasing coyotes around.
“After a little while, I wanted to be a doctor, a human mechanic, and learn what makes people work, in a physical sense. I always thought it would be really cool to be a doctor. I have the constitution for it, I think, and the aptitude. I love helping people and making things better and making things work.”
After graduating from Chaparral High School, he headed to ASU and quickly learned he didn’t have the constitution to study as hard as he needed.
“I directed myself to the idea of working my way into the business world, maybe being an entrepreneur, owning a restaurant or hotel — something in hospitality.
“I really clicked with marketing and advertising. I focused my schooling on that.”
When he finished university, he decided he would give music a shot. Kolesar didn’t think it would go far, let alone pay the bills.
“By our third show, people were excited to see us and knew our songs,” Kolesar says. “That was crazy. I thought we might as well see where this goes. I’m still seeing where it goes eight years later. I never intended for this to be a thing, until it was already a thing.”
The story continues
This Story is No Longer Available is Jared and the Mill’s latest “thing.” Grammy-winning producer Ethan Allen turned the knobs for the album at Gatos Trail Studio owned by Dan Joeright in Joshua Tree.
“Ethan’s awesome,” Kolesar says. “He’s the embodiment of Joshua Tree to us. He’s so spiritual with how he approaches music. He’s a lot of fun, and really, really great to work with. He’s our spirit guide in a sense.”
The paramount artistry on any record is the producer’s work, Kolesar adds.
“It’s up to the producer to really make this thing come to life and what it inevitable is going to be,” he says. “You need a very strong constitution and you need to be creative to be a successful producer.
When Jared and the Mill was recording This Story is No Longer Available, it was the first time it could take a breath in the studio. Recordings were previously rushed after perfecting the music before stepping foot in the studio.
“We would get in, do it and get out,” Kolesar says. “This time, if no one was feeling it on a particular day, we’d go have a barbecue at the house or go for a walk in the desert.
“It was cool to have that. We were happy with Dan—we call him Dan ‘The Man.’ He’d, every once in a while, grill dinner for us or bring us a case of beer. It’s the best vibe you can imagine. The spot was seemingly in the middle of nowhere in the desert. If you get the physical version of the record, there are pictures of us hanging out by a fence and behind us there is nothing but Joshua trees and mountains. We’re so far away from everything you can look up and see the Milky Way. It’s really special.”
The environment proved to be inspirational, as the music was written in the studio while Kolesar wrote the lyrics on the road.
“On the road, I’m in a place mentally where I can express my thoughts a little bit more. I have more time to think, I guess.
“You look out of the window of a van for 10 hours a day and I have all this time to think. There isn’t the clutter of every day life. You’re very much isolated and it allows you to look at your life in an outside perspective. It gives me the freedom to really think about what’s going on in my life and the lives of other people around me.”
This Story is No Longer Available is going to be self-released, as the band is hesitant to sign to a record label.
“We don’t have the political clout that comes with being on a label,” he says. “We take the most of every opportunity we can.”
For example, at the 2017 Firefly Festival in Delaware, Jared and the Mill made the most of its stay by playing private concerts for each campsite.
“Saturday morning, after that first night of the festival, some of the guys and I took our instruments and went to every campsite we saw—hundreds of them,” he says.
“We played three songs each for about six hours. We made a lot of fans. We had this mindset of, ‘Oh my God. We’re finally doing something we wanted to do for a long time. Let’s take this opportunity and get every last drop out of it that we can.’”
No matter where Jared and the Mill is playing, there’s a feeling of inclusion and community.
“Our shows are about allowing people to tell their stories throughout our community and we attract a wide variety of people because of that,” Kolesar says.
“We have a strong LGBT fanbase and a strong conservative white dude fanbase, and a strong fanbase of people who live alternative lifestyles. We draw in so many different kinds of people, while not having a target demo.
“It may be a weakness, but we found a strength in it. We take the opportunity to have these kinds of people, put our arms around each other and sing with one another. I think people see something in these other types of lifestyles and they don’t normally get to see. It’s very humanizing. It’s a huge responsibility. We appreciate it and we don’t take it for granted.”