After a lousy gig at the Village Tavern in February, local singer/songwriter Randall Cox realized that his indie-rock project the Green and Bold needed a quick kick. It wasn't a harsh move. The group didn't have some sort of dramatic meltdown or nasty confrontation stemming from a small-city soap opera or anything like that. They just didn't have their act together the way they did in the studio a few months ago.
"That Village Tavern set didn't go so hot," Cox admits. "We decided about two hours beforehand in the garage to use the Casio beat. The three of us huddled around it in the garage, and it sounded rather cute. But we left the sound in the garage. Bad idea."
As the ringleader of the Green and Bold, Cox has always been reluctant to crack a whip on his long-serving collaborators. But his ambition for his own songcraft has recently guided him through two successful studio sessions with engineer/producer Josh Kaler (of indie-pop band Slow Runner) and a team of like-minded buddies, all of whom are perpetually excited to assist.
Cox's musical career started in 1996 when he first moved to Charleston from the Upstate. Shortly after his arrival, he hooked up with a few musicians who were already nestled in the thick of the city's cozy indie-rock scene, including guitarist/keyboardist Billy Compton (a visual artist) and guitarist Chris Metts (of the Ferns). The three formed a band called Bud Collins. Bandmates included Bill Carson and Kevin Hanley, both of the ultra-cool Chord & Pedal collective of the early 2000s.
Bud Collins broke up when Cox moved back to his hometown of Locust Hill to become a teacher. Cox's hiatus didn't last too long, though. The Green and Bold started taking shape in 2008 when he compiled his best song ideas, booked time at Kaler's Hello Telescope studio, and invited friends to sit in on the sessions.
"Josh became a de facto member of the band because he liked the stuff and wanted to come up with parts," says Cox. "We needed somebody to help us color, and we hit it off with Kaler. I let him produce the heck out of us."
The end result was a mini-album titled Love, Luck, and Regard. Thumping, uncluttered, and smart, it reflected Cox's indie-rock and guitar-pop influences and revealed his own talents as a clever songsmith and a nasally but confident frontman. His singing resembled Pavement's Stephen Malkmus and Yo La Tengo's Ira Kaplan. The strummy guitar and the rhythm section's straight-ahead style drew from Guided by Voices, Sebadoh, and the Pixies.
The Green and Bold recently recorded and mastered five new songs with Kaler for an EP titled Suit Up and Sit Tight. If Cox sounded a little giddy and reserved on the last disc, he and his team sound more fired-up and confident on the new tracks — from the jubilant, Band of Horses-esque opening anthem "Black Market" to the Casio drum beats of the trippier, shoegazing "Italy" and the reverb-heavy pop-groove ditty "100 Geniuses."
"I love the all-hands-on-deck strategy, but it's different from having a core band," says Cox. "We have a tendency to create a project and sign people up as we go. But we got a band together now."