Music Man

Jared Spears's Wide-Ranging Passion for Music

Jared Spears’s interest in music developed largely out of necessity. Growing up in Fallbrook, California, the self-proclaimed “Avocado Capital of the World,” there was very little for a young boy to do except eat guacamole, attend the annual Avocado Festival, and throw avocados at other children. “I had an avocado fight or two when I was a kid,” Jared says. “Not necessarily proud of it now, but there wasn’t much to do in Fallbrook.”

Jared performing in his high-school band Breaking Ground circa 2005

The son of two musically inclined parents, Jared was always surrounded by melodies. His mom played piano, organ, and accordion in her church band while she was growing up and continued to play the piano after Jared was born. His dad played the organ and favored the scores of famous broadway musicals like Guys and Dolls, The Music Man, and those by Gilbert and Sullivan. “I’ve been obsessed with music since the womb I think,” Jared says. “It always just came natural to me. I really couldn’t ever stop singing for too long growing up.”

In middle school, when the novelty of fleshy, good-fat-filled fruits wore off, Jared turned to music to occupy his time. He started by learning bass, which he chose because the lead singers of many of his favorite bands, like Primus, Rush, Slayer and The Misfits, had bassists as lead singers. He and his friends formed a band that never had a name but favored Rage Against the Machine covers. “I don’t think we ever even played a show, but we practiced a lot,” Jared says. After that band broke up, Jared joined a punk band called Breaking Ground where he played bass and sang. “I don’t think we ever did break any ground, either literally or figuratively,” he says. “Probably closer to literally doing it than figuratively doing it, to be honest.”

After high school, Jared and his bandmates went their separate ways to attend college. Jared turned his attention to solo singing and songwriting and taught himself how to play the guitar using online tutorials. “I started plucking away at Metallica songs, really simple ones at first,” he says. “And then would practice, and practice, and practice. And for the longest time I couldn’t sing at the same time, and it sounds a little bit silly now, but I remember one day picking up the guitar, plucking through a Metallica song, and finding it wasn’t anymore difficult to sing while playing.”

Jared, right, performing at a Gravity meeting

Ever since he learned how to sing and strum simultaneously, Jared has written and recorded original music. Although he cut his teeth playing mostly hardcore and punk songs, these days he describes his sound as more singer-songwriter with a touch of hip-hop thrown in. “A lot of hip-hop artists, they like to talk about coming from humble beginnings, and then really juxtaposing that with the absolute lack of humility in their lyrics,” Jared says. “And I just think that there’s something really, really empowering about watching that underdog story have a happy ending. So I grew up pretty poor–single-parent household, definitely on government assistance a lot through my younger years. And I think more as I grew up, and grew up out of that, and rose above my station, I started appreciating rap even more for those reasons.”

Although his day job is in Gravity’s Inside Sales department, Jared has managed to showcase his musical skills at several company events and often serves as the in-house talent at all-company meetings. Last summer, at a company talent show, he and colleague Chase Hollen debuted their song “Hey There Deployment,” a parody of the Plain White T’s song “Hey There Delilah” dedicated to the team that installs terminals and other hardware for Gravity’s merchants. Sample lyrics: “Hey there, Deployment/There’s this bar in New York City/Yes, it’s Friday afternoon/They need twelve ict250s/Yes, they do/Our installed rev depends on you/You’ll see this through.”

Jared performing at Barbosa in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Seattle

“I grew up just absolutely idolizing Weird Al Yankovic as a little kid,” Jared says, referring to the parodist known for his comedic take on songs like Coolio’s “Gangsta’s Paradise” and Michael Jackson’s “Beat It.” “I think his influence permeates through a lot of my songwriting. But I don’t write parody songs very often, in fact I don’t think I’ve ever written a parody song that wasn’t about work here at Gravity. But it just seemed like a natural fit that would really engage people here, the type of thing that would just be fun, that people could feel an ownership over because they could all relate to the lyrics together and have a laugh.”

Given Jared’s notoriety within Gravity, it’s not surprising that when colleagues Emery Wager and Matt Dho began developing an original musical, they approached Jared about writing the songs for it. Jared, who has studied musical theater since high school and performed in several productions, jumped at the opportunity. 

Emery, who published the novel How to Name a Generation in 2015, came up with the original idea for the musical, which is titled Glorious, and recruited Matt to help him get the story on paper. Matt, too, is a published novelist and has also written several screenplays, including the one for the forthcoming feature film Teenage Badass. The story is loosely inspired by Emery’s service in the Marine Corps and follows a group of queer soldiers who have been segregated into their own unit after the military implements a series of Don’t-Ask-Don’t-Tell-like policies that limit their rights. The plot follows the unit as they try to save a group of straight soldiers who have been taken hostage by enemy combatants. “The irony around putting all the LGBT people together in this, is that it doesn’t really work, because other than their sexuality, or their gender identity, there really isn’t anything that unifies them or a good reason why they would work well together,” Jared says. “Like anyone else, [they have] different strengths, different backgrounds, different weaknesses. So they start off as a very, very ragtag group, a real motley crew, that really shouldn’t be a unit, and really wouldn’t be if this awful backwards policy wasn’t in place. So they have an uphill battle towards first being a cohesive unit that can hold their own alongside any other units that they have to work with.”

It’s now been almost three years since Emery, Matt, and Jared began working to make Glorious a reality, and, as of this writing, they have a complete script and eighteen original songs (all composed by Jared). On Saturday, August 3rd, the co-creators will host a fundraising event  with the goal of raising enough money to stage a workshop of the musical for potential producers. If that’s successful, the trio will move forward with bringing their work to the stage. After that?

Glorious is the most serious I’ve ever been about me making music a profession,” Jared says. “And I think that this musical has the potential to be a big success that could lead to more.”

For more information on Glorious and to buy tickets/donate to the fundraiser visit www.gloriousthemusical.com/

Written by Brooke Carey, Lead Storyteller 

Humans of Gravity is a profile series designed to highlight the unique individuals who comprise our team. Gravity Payments believes in celebrating our shared humanity by letting employees bring their full selves to work. Interested in joining this amazing group of people? Check out our Careers page for the latest opportunities. 

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