Courtesy of Jared Mahone
Late Monday night, there was a band singing in the dimly-lit lounge of Scarlet & Grey Cafe. There weren’t many people in the audience – probably 7 to 8 – but the singer didn’t seem to notice or care about the number of heads. He was singing with his eyes closed.
Jared Mahone is the singer of his self-titled band, which performs every Monday night at Scarlet & Grey. Monday’s show was in recognition of the band announcing the release of its newest album “Mixtape,” slated for Oct. 23.
But before “Mixtape,” there was “The Mixtape Project,” a solo piece Mahone started in 2010 to challenge himself. He decided to release a song every Sunday on his website for a year. He ended up releasing more than 30 songs.
“It was kind of like self-commissioning to put myself to the task of writing for the sake of development,” Mahone said. “(I’m) just out to get inspired and (turn) the inspiration into music or have a concept or have a thought, an idea and craft that into a tune.”
Mahone said he keeps putting himself outside of his comfort zone because he doesn’t want to be boring.
“I’m middle class, I’m super average height, white, like there’s nothing interesting going for me in this culture that we’re living,” Mahone said.
He cited emotional moments in his life as things that need emphasized.
“I have to fabricate those experiences, because in my life, if I didn’t fabricate it, I would be as mundane as possible,” he said.
Although he described himself as an average American guy, Mahone said he has an interesting background.
He has musical roots, as his grandfather was in a band called The Hitches, so being a musician is a natural thing for Mahone. He said he was on the stage with his family members since before he can remember.
“I (was) born into that culture, where it is normal to write songs and normal to learn instruments and develop your talent,” Mahone said.
Recalling that he was 9 years old when he first started songwriting, Mahone said, “I started to write songs because I got inspired by girls or whatever seems like it’s worth writing about.”
From being a young boy writing songs, he grew into the man who is about to release his first album, “Mixtape.”
Mahone said the album being local to Columbus is his favorite thing about it. Mahone and his six-piece band teamed up with other musicians in Columbus for the album.
Jerry DePizzo, O.A.R’s saxophonist, produced the album. Mike Landolt, who recorded Maroon 5’s Grammy-winning first album, “Songs About Jane,” mixed the album, and Brian Lucey, who has worked with The Black Keys, mastered the album. Also, Kevin Oliver, a member of the Hoo Doo Soul Band, worked as a guest guitarist on the album.
Mahone said it is an honor to work with such “all stars.”
“People in our town doing something amazing works, and I got to work with those people,” Mahone said. “I think what I accomplished with these creative people speaks about our community in some ways.”
One of Mahone’s friends, Aaron Holley, 33, who came to the Scarlet & Grey Monday to see Mahone, said making an album entirely locally is “awesome.”
“These guys on the stage, they are Ohio guys. For me, that’s what makes them special. It’s not like a bunch of higher musicians from Nashville or Chicago. These are Central Ohio guys who really love music and love to play music here,” Holley said.
Stephanie Mahone, Jared Mahone’s sister, said even she is happy to be “part of the culture of Central Ohio.”
Even though she is not working in the music industry, she helps her brother by touring with him sometimes. She said she hopes he will become more successful through this album.
“(Our family) defines success a little bit differently. It’s more about doing what you want, doing what you love to do” Stephanie Mahone said, in comparison to gauging success by money.
“The fact that he’s doing what he loves to do, the local project, he will be phenomenal in our terms of success.”