Picture it. You’re based in El Paso, Texas, desiring to live your dream of a thriving musician. Then, a CD that you release with a band called Level begins to get some buzz. I mean regional radio play and indie label interest buzz. After some time building a fan base, make a name change to The Conversation, and a move to Los Angeles, you’re now leading a group of road warriors throughout U.S. and Canada, having modest record sales, and a two-album deal.
You’re also completely burnt out.
So burnt out that you return to Texas to completely unplug from the scene, get married, and start a different life. However, after playing with a few friends in Austin, the “hook” brings you back (as Blues Traveler would say). Soon, new songs would be written and a new band called The March Divide would renew your passion for performing again.
This is just a glimpse of the story of Jared Putnam, singer/songwriter of The March Divide. The CD, Music for Film, will be released on Dead Letter Records on February 12. Listen to the music and check out more of the story.
JW: In listening to your podcast interview with Texas Music Matters, you mention that you decided to return home after things didn’t work so well in Los Angeles for your former outfit, The Conversation. Given that there are so many contacts and opportunities in the L.A. area, why didn’t you just stay there instead of coming home to Texas?
JP: Really, the move back to Texas from California was more for personal reasons than anything. When the full band was working in LA a lot, getting shopped by our production company, we’d always commute out there, spending a couple of months at a time, but we always kept El Paso as our home base. It wasn’t until the band dissolved and I started playing solo as The Conversation that I decided to move to LA full-time. But even then, it wasn’t a career decision, my girlfriend tried to talk me into following her out there for a while, and without the band, I didn’t really have anything left keeping me in El Paso.
My management at the time was there, I can’t say their weren’t advantages to it, but the income of an indie singer/songwriter doesn’t go very far in a place like LA. I had to spend almost all my time away on tour just to make ends meet, and the bit I was home, I was writing, recording, or practicing. Needless to say, the relationship I was in at the time didn’t have a chance. Not long after she and I split up, I made the move to Austin to be closer to friends and family, hoping it would to force some balance into my life.
JW: Since coming back to Texas, have you noticed new outlets or opportunities here that perhaps didn’t exist when you first moved to L.A.?
JP: It’s a whole different world today, than it was back then. Not all that long ago, there was a gatekeeper(almost always in LA) that you had to get through for almost any of the real opportunity’s in music, but not anymore. Thanks to the evolution of social media, and the overall accessibility of anything and everything, all the big dogs have sort of lost their bite. The proud few no longer get to decide who’s heard and who’s not, everyone has the same opportunity to get their stuff to the masses.
What’s great about the band being based in San Antonio is the accessibility of other great markets like Austin, Houston, D/FW, and so many more awesome towns, with great people! So, while constant touring will always be part of the job, having the ability to easily go out for two or three days of shows is great for the down time, because it makes it possible to have more down time.
JW: Now that The March Divide has expanded from just you to a full band, what’s your focus for the band this time around? Also, what’s the origin of the band name?
JP: That’s tough to answer, I’ve just been working so hard on moving forward and having fun with it, that I haven’t really spent much time thinking about the over all focus. We’re just now finally starting to play out, which has been great. My friend Mike Hernandez, who was the drummer of The Conversation played on the new album, and has relocated from El Paso to be in the band. I’ve never really done anything worth a damn, without that guy by my side. Playing with Mike again just really makes the whole thing feel right. Jeremy Brooks is playing bass, I’ve known Jeremy for years, he’s a great player and always ready to put the work in. We’re going to get out there and start from scratch, playing as many shows as we can, in as many places as possible. I also plan to continue playing out and touring alone, as well. It’s just something I fell in love with doing before, and I don’t see any reason to let it go.
I wish I had a cooler story for the origins of the band name. When we were trying to figure out what to call the band, we came up with some pretty awesome stuff, but unfortunately, Google shot us down every time! So, I just started writing down random words and matching them up… So, I guess the short answer would be, it doesn’t mean much, but we think it sounds pretty cool.
JW: If you don’t mind, I’d like to hear the story behind “Davey”. It’s a punchy, bright number tackling a tough subject.
JP: David was the guitarist in The Conversation, and will always be a really close friend of mine. A little over a year ago Jake, the guy he’s been with for as long as I’ve known him passed away. I just can’t imagine how devastating it was for him. David still lives in El Paso, I was just really worried about the guy, and felt pretty helpless to do anything about it from San Antonio. It all seemed to happen so quick from where I was. I didn’t set out to write him a pop song, that’s just what came out, but I’m glad it turned out that way. I didn’t want to write something that would cause him to dwell on what had happened, I wanted to help him get through it. I just hope that in some way, it did.
JW: Everybody needs a recharge and artists especially so. What your favorite activity to clear your head and gain fresh inspiration to write and play?
JP: I’m pretty boring, outside of the band. I spend most of my time listening to records these days,I think this is a really exciting time for music. There’s just so much great new stuff out there, and I can’t get enough of it all. I also love horror movies! I really like the good one’s, but there aren’t enough of them to fill my time, so anything three stars or above on Netflix will do. My wife and I are regulars at Alamo Drafthouse. If you don’t know what that is, they’re pretty awesome, and seem to be popping up all over the place, now.
Be sure to catch The March Divide live on these dates:
02/07 Austin, TX @ Parish Underground **, Record Release Show
02/09 San Antonio, TX @ Boneshakers **, 21+, 9PM, Record Release Show
02/12 Conway, AR @ Bear’s Den Pizza *, 18+, Free
02/14 Columbia, MO @ The Bridge *, 8PM
02/15 St. Louis, MO @ Lemmons *, 21+, 9PM
02/16 Lake St. Louis, MO @ House Show *, 8PM, RSVP: firstname.lastname@example.org
02/17 Tulsa, OK @ The Hunt Club *, 8PM
02/21 Austin, TX @ Red Eyed Fly **, All Ages, 10PM