The members of Memphis folk-pop band Star & Micey radiate a solidarity that calls to mind a Southern Fab Four-era Beatles, an impression that was driven home for me when I met Josh Cosby and Nick Redmond, the main songwriting duo, for coffee. The two look like an odd couple, the scholar and the handyman, but they field interview questions like an Olympic volleyball team. Cosby sets up a joke, and Redmond spikes it, or vice versa, again and again, putting proof to the fact that the two have spent a decade leaning on and learning from each other on stages and in the studio.
All that hard work pays off, as this month, Star & Micey celebrate 10 years as a band, a mile marker few groups ever reach. The festivities kicked off two weeks ago with an anniversary show at Railgarten, and continue this weekend at the Levitt Shell with a long-awaited co-headlining concert with Memphis indie-pop heavyweights Snowglobe.
- Samantha Smith
- Star & Micey
"Jeff Hulett from Snowglobe is my neighbor," Cosby says. "We've been throwing it around: 'When are Snowglobe and Star & Micey going to play together?'"
The 10-year mark represents an unusual time in the life of Star & Micey. Having recently amiably ended a near-decade-long contract with Ardent, the band is in uncharted territory. Cosby and Redmond seem happy, open to the possibility of a new direction and pleased with a summer bookended by a spot on the Beale Street Music Fest lineup and a hometown blowout show at the Shell. But after six-and-a-half years of near-constant touring and almost a full decade with the same label, the band is taking stock. "For the first time in 10 years," Redmond says, "we're 100 percent free agents — and with a stack of material."
But let's back up. Redmond was already working at the famed Ardent Studios when Cosby and bassist Geoff Smith welcomed him into the band, so it was natural that they wound up at the Memphis label when the time came to sign a deal.
Star & Micey toured, released an EP and a full-length with Ardent, learned to play drums with their feet, toured some more, and added a drummer, Jeremy Stanfill. Their shows became more extravagant. "It was crazy. There was confetti; there were back flips," Cosby says. They released a third record, Get 'Em Next Time, in collaboration with Ardent and Thirty Tigers (who handled distribution), made a few laps around the U.S. and Canada, and went back to stomping their feet for a while. "In the meantime, we had recorded five records that just sat on the shelf," Redmond says.
"Contractually, we had to stay," Redmond says of the label entanglements that left them tied to the studio but unable to release their newest recordings. And after the deaths in 2014 of Ardent founder John Fry and John Hampton, one of the studio's chief producers, there was no one to let the band go. "I don't think there's blame," Redmond says. "We got lost in the cracks."
Meanwhile, over at Thirty Tigers, the death of vice president and co-founder Bob Goldstone sent the company into a period of drastic change. Star & Micey was locked into a deal with Ardent with no one to handle distribution. Eventually, after years in a sort of limbo, the contract was dissolved.
Now it's back to the band's origins. "I jumped in the van, and we took off — for 10 years," Redmond laughs. Those first tours built the band's chops and taught them how to depend on each other, how to survive long days in a van, and how to roll with the punches.
"If something happens, we'll all show up," Redmond says, demonstrating the Get 'Em Next Time ethos that so defines the band. "We've all decided, all four of us, this isn't over," Cosby says, putting words to a feeling that permeated the conversation from start to finish. Never for a moment did I doubt that, even after 10 years, Star & Micey have a lot more to give.
Star & Micey and Snowglobe play the Levitt Shell, Friday, September 14th, 7 p.m. Free.