Local Noise: The Micks

The Micks formed in late 2010, in what they describe as a “dreary, heatless house on theBarnegatBay, away from the city, away from our friends; our ‘Fortress of Solitude.’ Knotty pine walls, wooden seagull sculptures, sea captain paintings, and the usual kitsch, with a pink-orange sunset beaming through the windows, over the blue frozen bay.” But that setting turned out to be just what was needed for the trio of Matt McMickle, his brother Sam McMickle, and Henry Prol, to gel into the unit that would realize the vision they had been searching for on their musical journey.

Matt and Sam had been playing together for about five years at that point. Sam had graduated from rubber drum machine to a usedPearlkit, and learned to play along with Dave Grohl, Tre Cool and John Bonham. Matt was always there to jam with him on his Fender Squire Stratocaster and solid-state Crate amplifier. Though Matt had played rhythm guitar in a few bands, jamming with Sam gave him the chance to open up and let his own ideas emerge.

After a few short circuited bands and forays with several bass players that never meshed with their musical synchronicity, along came Henry. He had been toiling as the lead singer, guitar player, and songwriter of another local Jersey City band, Copesetic. When he suggested he play bass with them, the McMickle brothers were less than enthused.

“We were reluctant at first,” recalls Matt. “In our experience, a man that fronts a band and shreds on guitar like Hank does will soon become dissatisfied with the supportive bass player role. We ignored his advances, shrugging them off as flirtation, nothing serious. He was so likeable though, and very thoughtful when he talked about our music. Eventually we gave in and invited him to our next practice. We thought, ‘Hell, with a voice and fingers like that, if it does work, it’s gonna go down like a brick shithouse!’ And so it did. It was clear at that first practice that it did not matter to Hank what instrument he was playing. He’s just making music, from his ears to his hands on whatever, whenever, rock and roll. He appreciates its simplicity and he understood that the McMickle sound thrived on the open-space of the two-piece. We also just messed around; drinking, smoking, and going on about our favorite bands and records. We jived and gelled over Jim Carrey, cock jokes and Budweiser.”

Sam also concurred with the musical metamorphosis. “I had never before heard our songs with such depth and movement,” he relates. “This commanding player, this regal-looking, born for the ‘70s frontman/guitar shredder fit right in. I knew we had to hold on to him. He made us play better. He moved us the way a bass should.”

Since that time, The Micks have graced numerous stages around the area, including The Lamp Post in Jersey City, Maxwell’s and Willie McBride’s in Hoboken, Teaneck’s Mexicali Live, Rutgers and Princeton University, Long Branch’s Brighton Bar, and a myriad of other places up and down the East Coast and even out to Utah and down to Costa Rica.

Matt usually starts the musical process in coming up with new material. He considers the music something that wanders about, into what he calls “the meadow,” and when he isn’t hearing it, he grabs it and uses that as the initial inspiration. From there, the three of them jam on the idea until it gets to the point where they are only half paying attention, and that’s when the magic clicks in.

Songs such as “Finish Me,” “Cry Every Time,” and “Dancing For The Smokers” are the most requested at shows. Musically, Matt reveals a wide range of influences that each add to a particular segment of the music they produce, even within the same songs. “For grooves we look to The Rolling Stones, Neil Young, or Paul Simon’s Graceland,” he says. “And much of the influence for them, like New Orleans R&B. For passion and romance, we look to Stax and Motown, especially Otis Redding. For power and remembering that reckless abandon and anger, we look to Nirvana and early rock and roll from the Southern U.S. and Britain. For lyrics, we look to Neil Young, Morrissey, Bob Dylan, and Mark Lanegan.”

The Micks also have a propensity for fun and surprise, as evidenced by the occasional “dress show” they’ve done in the past, and hope to do again in the future, where, as the name implies, they actually perform in dresses. “Still trying to sell Hank on that one,” Matt laughs. “We’re waiting until he’s ready. He’d be beautiful.”

While the group works hard on the business end of things, and wants to keep up with a potent internet presence, it really comes down to the music for the band members. “The way we write, perform, and record, has to be as honest as we can get it,” summarizes Matt. “If we just make the truest music we can, everything else will probably fall into place. Hopefully while we’ll still be alive to enjoy it!”

You can get more information about the band and upcoming show dates, as well as listen to the music, at themicks.tv.