Honestly, who hasn't thought of assuming a new identity and hitting reset?
That was what Colorado Springs' Claymore Disco did after their rhythm section departed. The remaining members took a year off to retool before venturing forward as Modern Suspects. They release their five-song debut CD, Told You So, this week.
"We decided, let's just start fresh with the knowledge we have now, and try to start everything at a higher level, if you will," says lead guitarist Bart Williams, while recalling the former band's earliest days. "All those old memories, like if people have come out and seen us before playing at a very amateur level, let's just clean the slate and start over again."
The core trio hopes to translate four years of experience into a more successful second go-round. For Williams, singer/keyboardist Garret Myers and bassist Tyler Frees, the rebranding offers a chance to shed mistakes they made in their earlier incarnation, including aligning themselves with the Christian music movement.
"The Christian music industry ends up putting you in a box as far as who you can and can't play with," says Williams. "To be honest, we didn't want to confine ourselves by saying we're a Christian band. So we're all Christians and we're all in a band, but we think that the message that we have is supposed to reach a lot wider than just to other Christians."
Modern Suspects still explore their former band's dancey, atmospheric pop sound, and look to The Fray and Churchill as models. They even enlisted Churchill drummer Joe Richmond to produce the Told You So EP. Turns out Claymore Disco played a show with Churchill shortly before Richmond's band got signed and scored their big hit.
"He's definitely seen what it takes to make it from a very small local act to an international act in a matter of 12 months," Williams says. "He's been most instrumental in helping us really get a good direction for where we want to go, and point us where we need to be. He's been putting us in contact with different radio program directors."
Richmond also laid down all the drum tracks, because while Frees initially joined Claymore Disco as the replacement drummer, he's slid over to bass in Modern Suspects. They've enlisted a trio of rotating drummers, based on availability and size of show, as well as a pickup second guitarist.
Told You So showcases a brightly effervescent sound full of soaring choruses, big hooks and lush arrangements. Its tracks range from the '80s-inflected ballad "Be There" to the title track's blend of pulsing dance-punk backbeat with indie-pop shimmer.
"Garret's a firm believer that there is no reason why you should have just one hook in a song," Williams explains. "Every part of the song in and of itself should be able to get stuck in your head."
And while Modern Suspects would love to write a radio hit, they're not counting on it.
"The best thing we can do is understand that we don't know everything and there is a whole lot to learn," Williams says. "We're still figuring out our sound and, to be honest, I don't know whether that will ever change."