Home Improvement

Read the Time-Life build-your-own-mansion-out-of-Popsicle-sticks series. Ask Martha Stewart — during visitation hours — for her advice in exchange for a carton of Pall Malls. Slip a roofie in Bob Vila‘s mojito and have your way with his brain. They’ll tell you.

The foundation is the most important thing.

You dig the hole. Level the ground. Pour the cement. Let it dry — but not before leaving a handprint and a scrawled “Van Halen Rulez!” on the stiffening concrete — and then you can start to build.

Nobody knows this irrefutable truth better than the Architects.

They’ve spent the better part of the past decade laying down their foundation as the Gadgits, one of the most successful bands in recent Kansas City history. The Gadgits survived the years, going through various musical permutations, signing to and then being dropped from a sizable label (Hellcat/Epitaph). It seemed the only things that would survive a nuclear holocaust were Hostess snacks and the Gadgits.

And then the Gadgits died.

The band’s demise was facilitated by the departure of keyboardist Ehren Starks earlier this year, but it was hardly a sudden meltdown. I was a witness to one of the band’s last local shows, at the Bottleneck just over a year ago, and it was apparent to me then that the group was much closer to fading away than to flaming out. The band was a beaten horse that needed to die if its members had any real hope of living again.

They needed to knock down some walls. Remodel the living room. Repaint the bathroom. Reshingle the roof.

But leave the foundation. And that’s what Starks allowed the Phillips brothers — Brandon (singer and guitarist), Zach (bassist) and Adam (drummer) — and guitarist Mike Alexander to do when he departed.

The group rechristened itself the Architects. But the former Gadjits needed more than a crafty name change to take advantage of their new lease on life. Last week the band officially showed that it was ready to settle in its new surroundings when the it released its debut, Keys to the Building.

The album is a significant if not entirely drastic shift for the band. But is it enough? Will the Architects be seen as merely the Gadgits by any other name? Maybe. But the band members clearly seemed to exhibit renewed vigor when they climbed onstage at the Brick for their CD-release performance on October 22.

“This is like finding money in the street,” a sweaty, beaming Brandon Phillips gushed midset. “God bless you, Kansas City.”

The Architects were a little rusty, a little out of shape. But as they panted and convulsed across the stage and their music roared and reverberated into the early morning tumult, they seemed right at home.

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