Oracles speed trio’s musical ride
> Star & Micey beat obstacles with timely aid
Special to The Commercial Appeal
Like some sort of ancient Peloponnesian warriors, the members of the Memphis art folk trio Star & Micey have an abiding faith in oracles, their term for the individuals who have popped up at key moments in the band’s history to offer an introduction, a bit of inspiration, or just an encouraging word.
It was one such oracle, a homeless man who cornered lead vocalist Josh Cosby outside of his apartment one night and requested a song, who gave the band its name. Another put lead guitarist Nick Redmond on his path to a career in music production at Memphis’ Ardent Studios. And a short time later, yet another introduced Cosby and Redmond at a songwriter’s night in Midtown.
“This whole ride so far has been like this Legend of Zelda RPG (role-playing game) or like ‘The Odyssey’,” says Redmond. “These people always seem to come along at just the right moment and give us courage and confidence to fight through obstacles.”
Not even the oracles, however, foresaw the rapid ascendancy of Star & Micey, a rise that reaches a new level Saturday night when the band plays Neil’s Music Room to celebrate the release of their eponymous debut album on the revived Ardent
Music label. The 10-song record goes on sale Tuesday at ardentmusic.com, starandmicey.com, and through most major online music stores. A free three-song sampler is currently available at starandmicey. bandcamp.com.
Star & Micey actually dates back to 2005 when childhood friends Cosby and Geoff Smith first founded the group as the latest in a long list of bands they played in together since high school.
“When we first started we didn’t know what we were doing,” says Cosby, who jokes that Smith only picked up the bass to impress his sister, Bonnie. “We were playing heavy, nü metal music. Then my dad bought me a four-track, and that’s when all of a sudden I realized you could put things with things and hear yourself back. For me, on a writer’s level, that changed everything.”
Meanwhile, Redmond was also discovering the wonders of recording. The Somerville, Tenn., native was an aspiring gymnast before he stumbled upon an acoustic guitar in his dad’s closet. Moving to Memphis, Redmond became a prolific artist specializing in artfully layered chamber pop before he abruptly shifted focus to pursue a career in production.
“I was always one of those kids who took a shine to taking things apart,” says Redmond of his love for the technical aspects of recording. “That’s really what comes natural to me is producing other people’s records. I thought bands come and go. So instead of chasing that dream down, I let go of that really early and decided a career in production was the way to go.”
Redmond had begun working at Memphis’ fabled Ardent Studios and was part of the regular rotation in a songwriters’ night at Neil’s when he met Cosby, who was musically adrift following the hiatus of Star & Micey.
“At Neil’s there’s usually one weird guy who comes in there on any given night,” says Redmond. “And this night it was Josh. He had the big glasses that we all had in 4th or 5th grade that come down to your cheekbones. And he’s waving his arms and breathing. And I thought: There’s the weirdo of the night.”
Despite iffy first impressions, the pair recognized a kindred spirit in each other’s songs that night and began a collaboration that gradually drew in Smith and resulted a year ago in the revival of Star & Micey. Almost immediately Redmond’s Ardent connections began paying off as the band began recording a series of demos that would eventually become the band’s debut LP. With giant pop hooks, Cosby’s soulful, Michael Jackson style vocals, and the band’s penchant for Beatles-esque sonic experimentation, the group crafted a sound that could be likened to an update of another Ardent band, garage soul pioneers Big Star, a similarity that likely went a long way toward that the company’s decision to sign Star & Micey to its revived pop music label.
Star & Micey — Geoff Smith, Josh Cosby and Nick Redmond — plays Neil’s Music Room on Saturday to celebrate the release of their debut album on the revived Ardent label.