One of the people injured at the 2014 South by Southwest Music Festival was a woman named Morgan who attended the Austin event just to see Jared & The Mill perform. She missed their set when a driver ran over several people, killing four and injuring Morgan and several others.
When Jared Kolesar, the group’s lead singer and guitarist, heard about Mason, he rounded up his five-piece band. They played a half-hour intimate hospital concert for her, her family and her friends. Rashad Owens, 23, was convicted of capital murder and sentenced in 2015 to life without parole in the incident.
“It ended up into something much more than we ever intended it to be,” Kolesar said of the hospital concert. “We just wanted to go and play a couple songs for her. It meant a lot that she was there at South by Southwest to see us.”
The Phoenix, Ariz.-based indie band, which mixes elements of folk, rock, country and indie and inserts a whole lot of emotion into it, has developed a strong relationship with fans in its roughly seven years existence.
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Fans are especially important to the group, which has built its career “piece-by-piece as we go,” said Kolesar. The band self-released one full-length, a couple of EPs, and a new one set for release next year, with singles off it being sprinkled throughout 2018.
“We’ve kind of flown by the seat of our pants. I don’t think we’d have it any other way,” Kolesar says. “I think that’s part of our vibe as a band, our independence. We could have signed with a label early on and had a whole lot of creative direction. But I think what we do for ourselves is super fulfilling.”
Over the years, the band has built a management team, but it’s the band members who call the shots. Part of the group’s path to building a fan base independently was to become road warriors. One tour through California led to another in a different region, which led to another and so on.
Now they basically live on the road and bring their feel-good, passionate folk-rock show to as many towns as they can, and crowds seem to be digging it.
“I think we provide an atmosphere that a lot of people don’t get a whole lot of these days, which is very personal,” Kolesar says. “We have people singing together. We play a song in the middle of a crowd. People say that it feels very wholesome ... In a real ‘We’re all in this together’ kind of way. People come away with this renewed energy. They had a part in what happened that night.”
The group sometimes would set up an acoustic version of the band on street corners and pass out fliers for the evening’s show, which would end up being an electric version of the music. The passion, self-promotion, and connecting directly with the fans has worked.
The new record that the band plan to unleash next year will be their first full length since their debut record in 2013. When they made that first record, the members were still finding themselves, and weren’t even sure that the band would last past the recording sessions.
They were in no rush to record another full length record because they felt that their relentless touring schedule and work on some EPs gave them a chance to try out some things and see what they could do.
“We didn’t have much of an identity because we were just trying to have some fun,” Kolesar says. “This is the first full-length record we have a really clear idea of what we want to be. I think the reason it took so long was because we were looking for ourselves spiritually and from a personality standpoint.”
The recording process for the album was an entirely new process for the band. They took some time off to write and record near Joshua Tree with no deadline in sight. Some days, they wouldn’t even work on music. They’d go spend time outdoors or go have a drink at the nearby bar and discuss musical ideas.
The resulting album is actually more scatterbrained than anything they’ve thus far released, but the band feels like this shows people exactly who the band is.
“I think if you listen to one song at the beginning of the record, and then a song halfway through, and a song at the end, you’d have three fragmented songs that don’t really go together. But I think if you listen to the whole record it’s going to give you this picture of who we are as a band,” Kolesar says. “There wasn’t this thing that we had to do with this amount of dollars and this amount of time. it was very much ‘Let’s go out to the desert and see what we can find in ourselves.’ We didn’t really know what we were going for at first, but I think that we found it.”
Editor’s Note: Due to incorrect information provided to the Bee, online versions of this story listed a woman’s name as Morgan. Her name is Mason.
Jared & The Mill
When: 7 p.m., Feb. 18
Where: Ace of Spades, 1417 R St, Sacramento
Info: aceofspadessac.com , (916) 930-0220