Six months ago, pop music group The Click Five was, well, just not clicking. And was down to four.
Though it wouldn’t be announced until March, the band had parted with frontman Eric Dill, whose high voice had lifted their 2005 Top 10 single “Just The Girl.” It made their album “Greetings From Imrie House” the highest-charting debut that year and put them on tours supporting Ashlee Simpson, The Backstreet Boys and Ryan Cabrera.
To move forward, The Click Five went back - that is, back to Berklee College of Music in Boston, where the group came together in 2003 while four of them actually lived in a place called Imrie House. (Dill was the only non-Berklee member.)
There, through mutual friends, they found Kyle Dickherber, lead singer of the band Hillside Manor, and signed him up to replace Dill.
These days, the band hopes it’s again time for a high Five.
They have a new single, “Jenny,” and their sophomore disc, “Modern Minds and Pastimes,” is due out June 26. Both feature Dickherber, now billed as Kyle Patrick.
Asked about the upcoming disc during a telephone call from his tour bus - driving in upstate New York - bassist Ethan Mentzer states the obvious.
“I think that the drastic difference is gonna be the fact that Kyle is singing and Eric is not,” Mentzer says. “They have very different voices. But ... stylistically, we still consider ourselves a rock `n’ roll band or a power pop band playing pop songs. And our goals are still the same: We want people to enjoy these songs and understand the lyrics and have fun, too.”
Dickherber’s voice is so different, Mentzer says, that the band in recent shows has skipped songs from its first album.
“That’s not so much deliberate as it is we have sort of been really, really short on rehearsal,” says Mentzer, who expects to add the hits later.
“We literally finished our record and left for tour. ... We just haven’t had time to figure out how we’re going to approach the old stuff, because (Dickherber’s) singing range is pretty different from Eric’s. You know, if we’re going to do old songs, we’re going to have to sort of rework them.”
Differences in approach to new music apparently is what caused the split with Dill. In an recent interview with Starry Constellation, an online magazine, Dill said his tastes leaned more toward rock than the band’s pop, and other members “resisted working with me on song writing.”
Mentzer says Dill’s assessment isn’t unfair.
“We were writing songs for this band and he really wasn’t,” Mentzer says. “And we would listen to his songs, but - I don’t know the best way to say it - it just wasn’t really what we were doing.”
Ironically, the break finally came not when the band was making music, but a movie: “Taking 5,” an independent film made in Utah in which two geeky teens kidnap The Click Five and force them to play at a high school dance.
Asked how the movie came about, Mentzer laughs. “Um, I’m not really sure. The idea was sort of proposed to us, and was tossed around for a long time before it became a reality. It was one of those things where it was like, we’ll believe that we’re going to do it when we’re doing it. And then one day we ended up in Salt Lake City filming.”
He says he doesn’t know whether the film has found a distributor, but band members attended its premiere April 28 at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York.
“It was a fun thing to do, (but) I don’t know that we’re necessarily banking on that movie to be a big career thing,” Mentzer says.
But it apparently sparked career interest for Dill.
“He expressed a lot of interest in making movies - we wanted to make a record and go on tour,” Mentzer says.
The separation came “Nov. 20,” Mentzer says, chuckling at his precision. It was at the end of the movie shoot, and “the other four of us went back to Boston.” There they found Dickherber, who at 20, was not at Berklee with the others - Mentzer, guitarist Joe Guese, keyboardist Ben Romanshan and drummer Joey Zehr, ages 23 and 24.
But by spring, it had been three years between albums.
The band started a second disc with Dill in January 2006 and had “about half a record,” but another U.S. tour, then an international jaunt through Singapore, Malysia, Japan and the U.K. pushed back its completion, as did the movie, Mentzer says.
“Everything kind of kept getting pushed back and pushed back,” he says. “And partly I think it was because we were struggling internally.”
By the time they regrouped with Dickherber, they had about 70 songs, which they narrowed to 12 for the disc, Mentzer says.
“It was a really difficult process,” he says. “Some of the songs on this record were actually written before our first record was even completed.”
He says the new disc “is one of more depth and maturity,” with a more personal and autobiographical approach to lyrics.
Likewise, he says, “stylistically, we’ve just explored a few more areas that were always of interest to us, we just never really got to them on the first record.”
He says one song, “Addicted to Me,” in which a narrator talks to an addict, musically harkens to the 1980s, “in the way of The Romantics, or mid-‘80s Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers ... a lot of synthesizers.”
“That was something we didn’t get to do on the first record that this time around it was like, `Yeah, this is really fun,’” he says. “Even though it may never be a single, I think that we all want to highlight that song as being something that’s kind of cool.”
Another song, “Headlight Disco,” is precisely that - disco music.
“That one was actually written pretty long ago and it went through some changes,” he says. “We tried to do it when Eric was in the band, and it never really came together, but now it sort of made sense.”
Apart from the music, Mentzer says a change people will notice is The Click Five’s clothes. The band used to be known for its matching suits, even in sweltering summer concerts, but now, “we’re doing bits and pieces of suits,” he says.
“We used to have this thing that we all wanted to look just so identical,” he says, laughing. “There’s a little more options now. We got some new clothes that are kinda cool, but you can kind of mix and match.”
// Notes from the Road
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