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White Rabbits has the whole indie rock darling thing on lock, but lead singer Stephen Patterson says he and his comrades aren't so quick to embrace that.

Patterson says the group, whose roots include Webster Groves and Columbia, Mo., doesn't have much control over how people define them, but they prefer not to be classified as indie rockers.

"We are 100 percent a pop band," Patterson says. "I write pop songs, and we play pop music, and I have no desire to be in an indie rock band."

For Patterson, "indie rock band" conjures up "a less-confident version of a rock 'n' roll band. It's a lame term and a cop-out, and I'm not into that. I like Madonna, and I like Beyoncé, and I listen to (Kanye West's) 'My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy' way more than I've listened to any indie rock thing."

But White Rabbits fans needn't worry. They won't be hearing shades of Madonna, Beyoncé or West on the band's new album, "Milk Famous," the follow-up to "It's Frightening" (2009).

The band started working on "Milk Famous" while it was wrapping up the "It's Frightening" tour, Patterson says. But unlike the recording of the earlier record, the band took its time on "Milk Famous."

"We knew we wanted to take our time with this one," he says. "We knew we weren't interested in hurrying the record. It took two years of writing and recording, in Austin for months and then more work in another studio. It was a very long process, but it was a good thing for this record."

On "Milk Famous," Patterson says the band incorporated sounds it hadn't used on its previous records. What the band was looking for were sounds not normally heard on rock records.

But he says it went beyond choice of instruments, involving how standard instruments could be used differently, all affecting attitude and tone.

"I was listening to more pop and R&B and hip-hop, though I'm not sure how much of that is audible in the recording," Patterson says. "I definitely wanted to move on beyond this sort of aggressive sound that we had in our previous two releases.

"It's exhausting to put on that face every night. It's not me, and it's not us. We're actually a lighthearted group of people, and we wanted to make sure our music was expressing that."

White Rabbits has come a long way from its Missouri upbringing.

It was on "Late Show with David Letterman" in 2007 where they performed "The Plot," a song from the "Fort Nightly" album. The song was written while the band, now based in New York City, was still in Columbia.

"It's the only song we still play that we wrote in Columbia," he says.

The band members came together while going to school in Columbia. Several of the musicians, including Jamie Levinson, Gregory Roberts and Matt Clark, grew up in Webster Groves.

The group's first name was Texas Chainsaw Mass Choir.

"We weren't under that name long," Patterson says. "I used to be embarrassed about it."


White Rabbits, Gull

When 8 p.m. Thursday • Where Plush, 3224 Locust Street • How much $13-$15 • More info plushstl.com