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The March Divide – “Don’t Let Me Die In Arizona” EP – August. 4th, 2017
Thankfully, the upcoming EP from The March Divide is not posthumously titled “I Died In Arizona,” but it came close. “I was in Arizona for a week with my family, and I got sicker than I’ve ever been in my life on that trip,” explains Jared Putnam, The March Divide’s non-stop workhorse and sole permanent member. Putnam just so happened to be listening to the final mixes of his new songs at the time, as well.
“For the rest of my life, I’m always going to associate these songs with how sick I was that week. I actually remember listening to the final mixes and saying out loud, ‘please, don’t let me die in Arizona.’”
Today, Putnam is safely back home in San Antonio, Texas and will release his inspired new EP, “Don’t Let Me Die In Arizona” on August 4th, 2017. The new group of five tracks follows up Putnam’s recent series of warmly received covers of iconic hits of the 1980’s, each featuring artwork depicting Putnam digitally “wearing” the hairstyle of the covered artist (his Boy George look is particularly unforgettable!) “Don’t Let Me Die In Arizona” represents the fifth EP of original material, along with three full-length albums, that Putnam has issued since 2013.
“This was a different sort of release for me,” he says. “I’ve been experimenting a lot with my approach to percussion, hoping to find a new balance between rock and pop. I explained what I had been hoping to do to Mike [Major, Putnam’s producer], and he really seemed to get it.”
Major, best known for his work with At The Drive-In and Coheed and Cambria, has been working with Putnam’s for some time. Major is also a percussionist, which makes his contributions to “Don’t Let Me Die In Arizona” an even more essential piece of the puzzle, which he will get into as he makes his debut appearance in a bio about The March Divide right now:
“I mastered a few records for Jared over the years and thought he always made good sounding, straight-ahead pop rock records with strong songwriting, heartfelt performances, and modern-sounding production. In other words, there was nothing really wrong with it, and there wasn’t much reason to change anything,” Major says.
When it came to the percussion-focused sound of “Don’t Let Me Die In Arizona,” however, Putnam asked Major for more.
“He asked if I would like to be more involved, and of course I accepted. Jared didn’t want the songs to follow any set pattern of production. For example, in an earlier session that I had mixed for him, he used an empty Rubbermaid tub as the kick drum, and hand claps in place of the snare drum, so using this as an outline for how the rhythm could be created, we jumped right in.”
Eventually, Putnam amassed quite a collection of tools to work with including a dumbek, a 36-inch marching bass drum, a handmade African drum with an animal skin drumhead, and about 50 different shakers, claves, cowbells, and tambourines.
While he’s obviously a tireless songwriting machine, Putnam is also an unlikely torch bearer of a sound that was pioneered by bands like Sunny Day Real Estate, The Promise Ring, and Mineral, and eventually exploded with artists such as Paramore, Dashboard Confessional, and Jimmy Eat World. As many of these artists make comebacks, or get discovered by young people for the first time, Putnam has been steadily building a loyal audience since breaking up The Conversation, his own band of that era.
Over the last few years, the press has discovered Putnam’s “completely clever” (Performer) songs “all about lyrics and melodies” (Babysue) that are “impressively hooky” (American Songwriter), filled with “bittersweet beauty” (Impose), “catchy hooks” (Innocent Words), and voiced by a man “gifted with a serious set of pipes” (The Aquarian). Atwood Magazine recently said, “Eloquently simple and concise, Putnam’s lyrics are immediately relatable. His experience and memory transfer directly from the song to the listener.”
Those listeners are gaining in numbers, with “I Told You So,” the first single from Putnam’s second album as The March Divide, currently closing in on a million Apple Music streams alone. Those fans should be satisfied with “Tired Voice,” the first single from “Don’t Let Me Die In Arizona,” as it is a perfect example of the intersection of Putnam’s past, the current revival of the genre, and his new approach to building a rhythm section.
“I really wanted to deliver something more pop than rock,” he says of the tune. “Lyrically, this song is about the one step forward, two steps back feeling that comes with every music career, over time. While the highs make it all worth it, the lows are tough, and feel all too frequent.” Regardless, as anyone who has been doing what Putnam has been doing for this long, he has manages to keep his perspective intact. “It’s important to remember that everything and everyone you leave behind, can and will go on without you,” Putnam concludes.
Jared Putnam is alive and well and living in San Antonio. “Don’t Let Me Die In Arizona,” the latest EP by The March Divide is scheduled for release on August 4th, 2017, preceded by the single and music video for “Tired Voice,” streaming soon.