Stargazer Lily
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Stargazer Lily

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The best kept secret in music


"Aim High"

Things are looking up for Stargazer Lily, Inc.

by John Vettese

Of the four members of Stargazer Lily, bassist Jim Miades easily makes the most convincing yuppie. At a photo shoot this summer, the typically laid-back band donned stuffy business couture as a tie-in to its latest record, Young Professionals. In resulting shots, singer/guitarist Sue Rosetti came across casual in a suit jacket and white turtleneck. Steph Hayes, also a singer/guitarist, seemed downright punky in a vest, loose shirt and necktie, straddling the boardroom table with her electric axe. Drummer Scooter looked like, well, himself.

But Miades, who also went the semicasual route with a button-down striped shirt, somehow pulled off the look in spades by trimming his hair and goatee, doing the tie thing and wearing reflective sunglasses. All of a sudden, he looked like he should be closing accounts or firing subordinates, not playing bass in a loose Philly rock band.

"We thought about whether or not we should really go all out," Miades chuckles. "You know, wear the full suits and ties and everything. But then we realized we'd wind up looking like The Hives. So we went for something in the middle, something we could wear at a show."

Over a three-cheese panini and Thai salad lunch at The Point, the members of Stargazer Lily say there is a bit of contention as to whether the thrift-store corporate garb would actually become their stagewear. But for Hayes, the motif isn't a huge stretch.

"I've always worn ties," she snips.

Rosetti giggles, "She's just mad because Avril Lavigne stole her look."

Hayes figures it all goes back to Annie Hall. "But I'm pretty sure I started bringing it back around before Avril did."

It's true; you could spot her rockin' the tie at Stargazer's early Grape Street gigs in 2000, not long after the band had a real life run-in with the corporate world.

Rosetti and Hayes, who have been friends and songwriting partners for almost a decade, piqued the interest of Arista Records in 1999 with their upright-bass driven, folky pop band, Cory. But by the time they made it out to Los Angeles the following year for a six-month development deal, the group had dissolved and restructured into Stargazer Lily, and they found themselves working with "hit songwriters."

"Our attitude was pretty negative at the time," Rosetti says. "We thought a development deal meant you go and develop your good points, not you have other people write your songs for you."

She and Hayes agree the byproduct of working with professional Top-40 scribes like Billy Steinberg was essentially a string of Natalie Imbruglia-clone songs that "weren't really us, that didn't represent us as people."

"This was right around the time I joined the band, and our manager gave me all these songs, the co-write songs," Miades says. "Ugh, terrible. It was just cheesy, poppy, dumbed-down songs."

One song Steinberg wrote for the duo, "The Need To Be Naked," was recycled when Hayes and Rosetti vetoed it, later becoming something of a hit for German pop diva Amber. Miades says, "Tell him some of the lyrics."

All groan, and Rosetti, blushing, timidly recites a couple lines: "I feel the need to be naked with you / take off my pants, my shirt / my socks and my shoes."

Yeah, that's, um, pretty awful.

"Damn integrity getting in the way!" Hayes says.

Ultimately, they found out they had been dropped. The Stargazer record that came out of the L.A. days, That's Okay, I Can Sleep At Work, was essentially unusable since the label owned the recordings.

Looking for a fresh start, the band rerecorded the best moments from That's Okay, as well as a few Cory songs and some new ones, for 2002's The Lift And The Drag. This new album of mostly old material perplexed some of Stargazer's devotees, fantastic as it was, and the band admits it was a move they struggled with.

"Since Arista owned the recordings for the first album, we couldn't do anything with it," says Rosetti. "We wanted to put out a CD that was ours, that we owned, that we could sell."

Flash forward to 2004, and a record that was written in stages from the release of Lift through two bitterly cold February stays in Hayes' aunt's North Carolina beach house, spanning crushes, breakups and nightclubbing. Aside from the tongue-in-cheek indie-pop title cut, Young Professionals isn't exactly reactionary to the Arista experience as much as it is a composite of the songwriters' lives and experiences over that time.

The loopy beatbox-driven "Crush" details pizza boys and waitresses Rosetti finds herself infatuated with. More of the album, however, follows the longing "Kiss Me," with slow acoustic strums and pedal steel.

"It reached the point where it was pretty depressing," Rosetti says, and Hayes explains that when the initial six-week session at Conshohocken's Studio 4 concluded, they went back to re-record additional material, like the anthem "Stay True"—a riff on "Ziggy Stard - Philadelphia City Paper - November 2004

"What's Love Got To Do With It?"

Stargazer Lily's new album tells a classic story of romance and heartbreak--with a twist.

by Bob Hill

No one writes an entire album about love. People write entire albums about breaking up, and they write those because emotion guides the pen, and there's no event so desperate or traumatic as a bad breakup.
Falling in love takes four minutes. Breakups are forever.

Hayes explains, "Sue and I had both gone through a breakup a while back. We both wrote a lot about the things that affected us in the wake of that time."

The Philly band's Young Professionals, out next week on Junogi, is the culmination of that writing--a sometimes quirky, sometimes mundane testament to affairs of the heart. The disc tap-dances its way through the initial stages of flirtation before descending into layers of heartbreak and despair. Professionals is pierced with gender-bending hooks and understated riffs, played against a scale minimum of background noise.

Amid those riffs, there are moments of lyrical splendor--the sexiest of which is Rosetti's admission that she has a crush on everyone from the pizza boy to the girl next door. The Stargazer frontwoman achieves new levels of nasal whining on Professionals, her appeals for affection so sensual, fans should be paying $1.95 a minute to listen.

The songs maintain a sense of humor. Rosetti and Hayes are eager to poke the yuppie class with a stick whenever the opportunity presents itself. The album's title track is a backhanded salute to the city's best and whitest--a homogenous bunch who could be found at a Stargazer show only if they made a wrong turn on their way to the Plough.

"Knowing what we do, when you read the lyrics of that song, you can see we're sort of making fun of ourselves," says bassist Jim Miades. "Even the artwork on the record reflects that idea."

There are two songs on the disc that take a break from the relationship motif. The first is written about escape, the second about going home.

In its closing moments Professionals disappears in a string of blade-to-wrist chanteys ("Defying Gravity," "Lovesickened," "Nothing Is Useless," "Darlin' You Need Me"). As the curtain falls, romance is depicted as a sucker's game.

Stargazer's success has always been predicated upon an ability to weave above-average musicianship and tender vocals into something more powerful. They're most poignant when not taking themselves too seriously. During the final chorus of the album, it's as if someone pulled the plug, and we're left waiting for the patient to die. Gone is the schoolgirl innocence of "Crush" and "Kiss Me." What remains is mostly doom and gloom--a suit that fails to reflect the erotic blue of the quartet's finer vignettes.

That said, Young Professionals is a better-than-worthwhile effort that succeeds in more places than it fails. Beyond that, it's a chance for the band to develop its fan base beyond Philadelphia.

Over the past two years Stargazer has expanded its touring schedule, playing regular gigs in New York, Boston and Virginia. They plan to make a cross-country swing this time 'round, supporting the record in any market that'll have them.

"In regard to whether we're closer [to making it] than we were two years ago, we might be," says drummer Brian "Scooter" Hassinger. "The music industry now is so much more fucked up with artists losing money or getting ripped off. So it's kind of depressing that bands think they're getting the brass ring they've been reaching for, when in reality, it's rarely what they thought it would be. As the industry adjusts to that, no one really knows how it's gonna end up. So we made this record on our own label in the hopes that as radio starts to redefine itself, we can be a part of that on our own terms."

The tour kicks off with a record release party at World Cafe Live on Friday. Advance copies of the CD will be available at that time.

"We've always tried to make our record release parties something special," says Hayes. "The last time we made it a big deal, and it worked out well. This time we want to do something even better for our old fans and our new ones. We want everyone to come out and enjoy themselves. It's gonna be a special show for us, and we think it will be for them also."

All young professionals are encouraged to attend. - Philadelphia Weekly - October 2004


2000 - LP - "That's OK, I Can Sleep At Work"
2002 - LP - "The Lift And The Drag"
2004 - LP - "Young Professionals"
2005 - LP - Starlazer Gilly - "Big In Texas"


Feeling a bit camera shy


It's a Sunday in October as Hope VanGogh (Stargazer Lily's big white touring van) hums past the strip malls, strip clubs, billboards and long shut-down taverns that make up Northeast Philly's gritty section of I-95 South. Rolling through the final stretch of road between New York City and home, Susan Rosetti (singer/songwriter/guitarist), Steph Hayes (singer/songwriter/guitarist), Scooter (drums), and their tiny entourage are either passed-out or sleepily staring out of the rainy windows waiting for their exit. Jim Miades (bassist and somewhat reluctant late night driver) turns up the radio a little more, hoping for a few final wake-up songs to get him the distance. The satisfaction of a good show played and the anticipation of releasing their new CD, Young Professionals, keeps the mood in the van electric regardless of the fact that it's four o'clock in the morning.

The band formed in 2000 after Rosetti and Hayes were signed to Arista while playing in another Philadelphia band called Cory. They traveled to LA for six weeks to work with industry hit-makers attempting to create the perfect radio gem. "I cried in the bathroom almost every single day," admits Hayes. Needless to say, they walked out of the situation with a renewed sense of identity. "We wanted to write our own radio gems or starve trying!" Hayes remarks. "And we certainly didn't want to be someone's cute little idiots. We wanted to be our own cute little rock n' roll idiots!"

So they decided to move on and put a band together. Recruiting Scooter (who had played drums with Cory for a stint) and adding Miades on bass, Stargazer Lily was complete.

To date the group has toured up and down the east coast. They have played on bills with The Dave Matthews Band, Shawn Mullins, and Michelle Malone. They've participated in numerous festivals including the Appel Farm Festival, and have been selected to play in music conferences such as SXSW, NYC's CMJ, Boston's NEMO and The Philadelphia Music Conference.

So what does Stargazer Lily sound like? Miades puts it like this: "You've heard the saying that the whole is greater than the sum if its parts?" "We all come from different musical backgrounds," adds Scooter, "but all of us enjoy the challenge of creating that perfect blend of verses, bridges and choruses to compliment the song." Susan chimes, "We love being able to be concise, smart, passionate, poignant, sexy, heart wrenching or downright ugly, and doing it all in a three-and-a-half-minute format." "It's like a tiny little audio movie," says Hayes.

Comparisons are tough..."we've gotten the Cranberries, the Neilds, Natalie Merchant, a more poppy Indigo Girls," says Rosetti. "Those are close, but I think we sound like 'us'", says Miades.

Young Professionals, released November 2004, makes you wonder what the band has gone through since 2002's The Lift and The Drag. The new record, whose working title was Lovesickened, runs love over the coals. From the dreamy, beat-box laden loops of 'Crush' to the brazen guitar blaze of 'Stay True' to the inviting 'Kiss Me' and the heartbreaking 'Nothing Is Useless', Young Professionals will take you from the first, blissful stages of love through the final acknowledgement of moving on.

The eleven tracks, seven of which were produced by The Lift and The Drag producer Phil Nicolo (Train, Pete Yorn, and Aerosmith) and four by Barrie Maguire (Natalie Merchant, Amos Lee) took a year to complete. It involved borrowing various studios, stealing a couple of musicians and inventing lots of day-job delaying excuses.

The title track is a tongue-in-cheek anthem to the people who get up and go to work every day -- something Stargazer Lily hopes they won't be doing much longer.

2005 saw the release of an album from Stargazer Lily's alt-country, alter-ego, Starlazer Gilly. 'Big In Texas' is produced by Grammy award-winner Phil Nicolo, and is a raucous hayride from start to finish - just as the Starlazer Gilly live sets always are! The CD is a collection of songs that have been a staple in the live sets throughout the years plus brand new songs, all of which have never been recorded...until now.