Meet the Band: Jared Kolesar (vocals), Michael Carter (banjo, mandolin), Larry Gast III (guitar), Chuck Morris III (bass), Josh Morin (drums), Gabe Hall-Rodrigues (accordion, keyboards)
Phoenix Rising: Jared Kolesar and Michael Carter have played music together since they were kids growing up in Phoenix. "We became friends in middle school and then started playing guitar together in high school," says Kolesar, who adds that he grew up listening to folk and classic country but was inspired to perform after seeing Elton John and Billy Joel perform together. In 2011, after he hosted an impromptu jam session with another musical duo, Josh Morrin and Larry Gast III, Jared & the Mill was born.
A Promising Debut: In 2013, the band issued its debut, Western Expansion. The twangy album has much in common with acts such as Mumford & Sons and the Lumineers. Album opener "Breathe Me In" puts the banjo up front in the mix and has become a fan favorite. "We felt really passionate about it as we were recording the songs," says Kolesar. "It's our first big project with the band together. There are songs on it that we literally wrote the day before in the studio. It was a nice way to start and we've built off that chemistry."
Why You Should Hear Them: The band describes its music as something that "ain't blues and ain't country." Due out in mid-April, its new EP, Life We Chose, lives up to the billing. It features mid-tempo rock tunes such as "Hold On." The tune shows off the group's pristine vocal harmonies and sharp songwriting skills. "I think everyone will be surprised by it," says Kolesar when asked about the EP. "The songs are about what we've given up to pursue this life we've chosen." Kolesar says the group was "more prepared" for the EP, which it recorded with producer Tony Berg (Snow Patrol, the National, Fiona Apple). "We had songs we knew we wanted to record and practiced them hundreds of times so when we met up with Tony Berg we had a nice canvas for him to work with," says Kolesar. "It was a whirlwind of amazement and pleasure working with him. It was inspiring and humbling. We like to think that there's a Western sound to our music and that's the direction we wanted to go in. He helped us bring that out."
Where You Can Hear Them: jaredandthemill.com.
Where You Can See Them: Jared & the Mill performs with Honeybucket at 8 p.m. on Saturday, April 4, at House of Blues Cambridge Room.