Colorado Springs "popternative" trio Moderns Suspects spent a few months making the reality-defying video for its single, “Designer Life.”
But the thirty gallons of colored milk in a bathtub that singer and synth player Garret Myers wound up submerged in stands out the most.
“I wouldn’t say Garret had the best time,” says drummer and bassist Tyler Frees. “That milk was extremely cold. Some of them were in the fridge for some reason. It was a little rough. But it was a really strange and awesome experiment. In the end, we ended up getting the shot...but I don’t think Garret is ever going to have milk ever again in his life.”
The video, shot entirely by guitarist Bart Williams on an iPhone, shows Myers coming home to a nondescript apartment on a random night. About ninety seconds into the story, he enters a surreal world filled with kiddie pools, colors that exist only in Instagram filters, bandmembers synchronized-dancing in their boxer shorts, face paint and enough psychedelic visuals to give pause to anyone who dropped acid in high school.
Williams says the video plays off the idea that everyone is either a social media influencer or wants to be a social media influencer. In the video, the protagonist’s reality and his perceived reality on social media collide.
And the perceived reality wins.
“A lot of us live average, ordinary lives, which is the first minute and a half of the video, a super-generic Thursday night coming home from work, nothing extravagant,” Williams says. “On social media, we post the most extravagant things, the often staged things. The perfect lighting. Trying to dress that place just right. Trying to take that selfie.”
Myers wrote the lyrics to “Designer Life” and says he explored the concept of the perfect lifestyle, imagining some future world where he is a celebrity — “the next John Travolta,” as he puts it. The chorus, however, rejects that notion and instead espouses the desire for someone to share life with. The chorus goes, "But it's not that easy, trying to say what I need to say. I want to cross oceans. I want to, with no one but you.”
“If you want to look at it another way, you're sort of having a life that is authentic and real,” he says. “One that’s not just a fake Instagram life.”
Frees says “Designer Life” was written a few years back, but the band recently decided to focus on creating visual accompaniments to its music.
“Even though it’s been recorded for a while, we wanted to take our time and really pull out some of the visuals that were evoked by the lyrics and some of the themes,” Frees says. “The video has taken a few months to film everything and edit everything. That’s something Bart has done on his own. It’s very personal, and it’s been cool to see it come to life.”
Williams says the videos have been a great way for the band to expand its songs into another medium and tell a story that goes beyond just music.
“We are planning a lot more in the future,” he says. “We’ve got three songs right now that are mostly produced and ready to go, maybe another final mix to go on those. But concepts for those are definitely written out for those three songs, as far as videos are concerned. We are hoping to start filming in the next couple weeks or so.”
Modern Suspects play with Pandas & People and ENZI at 9 p.m. Friday, February 7, at the Larimer Lounge, 2721 Larimer Street. Tickets are $13 in advance and available at larimerlounge.com. For more information on the band, visit modernsuspects.com.
Listen to Modern Suspects, Pandas & People, ENZI and more favorites from Westword writers on our Westword Staff Picks playlist.