Re: Like a sore thumb
personally, i have different guitars for different styles/tones. i have hollowbodies, semi-hollows, strats, LP styles, rg's, s's, 80's hairband superstrats, and getting a talman for indie...danelectro tones. for you i actually would recommend the strat. find a good strat and drop a good set of pickups and your good to go. strat's are workhorses anyway. all my strats cn do anything. i have hot rails in each and they have really good single coils in them to go from sparkling clean, blues, jass, country, pop, indie, rock, to raging metal if i need. the only bummer is really just the limited fret access. sounds like in your band, you really won't use the upper frets much anyway.
if you want to compromise between the rg and strat, i HIGHLY recommend the ibanez rt series. it's basically the spawn of a strat and rg. i have 2. an rt650 and rt150(waiting on refin) and they definitely bridge the gap nicely. if you want a strat, but need it to say ibanez on the headstock, the late 90's blazers are great, too. 22 fret axes, with massive tonal versatility in the pickups and wiring. just more options. i will agree with you that most people are more down with image than talent. its just the adage of style over substance. hard to escape. i did use an rg in my old pop group, tho. it was the rg3120 and rgt3120. the maple tops made them a classier looking axe so that they weren't construed as "metal" guitars so directly.