The Meeting of Important People Interview

Published On May 6, 2011 | By Kate Magoc | Interviews

When people like your sound, you get to release those sounds on vinyl. In this very immaterial world of digital only releases, vinyl is like a bastion of the old with all kinds of respect attached to it. Local brit-pop-garage band Meeting of Important People will be re-releasing their eponymous first album on vinyl. We asked their front man, Josh Verbanets a few questions about their beginnings, their sound, and being stopped at the Canada/U.S. border – ‘cause, well, that’s pretty rock’n’roll if you ask me.

K8: I’ve read that Meeting of Important People was sort of born out of some indie band collaborations and crossover within the Pittsburgh scene, can you tell us a little bit about how you guys came together?
Josh: We started the band while Matt Miller and I were playing in Lohio, which is an amazing Pittsburgh band, really an institution — fronted by Greg Dutton — that’s had a number of great musicians in it over the years. At the time, I played bass (and later, guitar) and Matt played drums; we were all friends who had been in different bands since high school, hugely overjoyed to have met each other and be in such a fun, positive new band. I would occasionally write small pieces for Lohio songs, and here and there the band would play some songs that I had written on my own for a previous group I had been in, The You. Friends caught on to some of these songs, and before long, we decided to form a little goof-off garage pop band on the side to play them at parties and to open for “real” bands. At first, our friend Jeremy Diehl (a great Pittsburgh musician and producer) played bass, and then we got a lot more serious in the summer of 2008 when our friend Aaron Bubenheim from Bre’r Fox started playing bass. We ended up not having time to do both bands, so Matt and I left Lohio to do MOIP full-time, and we then made the first album.

K8: I read that when you were on your tour in ’09, you got stopped at the border going into Canada. If this became a funny rock’n’roll story I think our readers would love to hear it.
Josh: We traveled a LOT in 2009 and 2010 in support of the first album, the one that’s being re-released this weekend on vinyl. We were playing a festival in Canada around Thanksgiving 2009, and we forgot that you can’t cross the border for a paid gig, or with the intent of selling merchandise, without proper tax documents (or, maybe we never knew in the first place.) Our van was detoured to a check-point, and we stood around in the cold while Canadian officials pulled guitars, merchandise, “CDs FOR SALE” signs, directions to a live venue, and all sorts of things out of the car. They liked my pink guitar, though, very much, and let us go.

K8: You once referred to Meeting of Important People’s as originating as a house party band, would you say that that fun-loving, pop sentiment still rings true?
Josh: I’m not sure people think of our music as being very fun or even all THAT upbeat; we occasionally run out of “fun” or “fast” songs at shows and have to start playing old R&B covers before people fall asleep. That said, some of my favorite shows ever have been house parties and upbeat events. We were the featured band at the legendary Evaline Halloween Event a year ago, which was maybe the craziest and most crowded show we’ve ever done. People were falling into the DJ booth and panicking Gordy. We also equally love playing nice, quiet acoustic shows – in 2011, we opened for Dean & Britta with an acoustic set at the Carnegie Museum Lecture Hall, which was a blast.

K8: I guess to further push on that question of your sound and how it’s developed or changed, what does the new album hold in that regard?
Josh: There actually isn’t a “new” album – the show that we have this weekend is a RE-RELEASE of our 2009 debut, now on vinyl, being released by the legendary Get Hip garage label. We’re excited that a whole new audience will get to hear the record and learn about the band, and are honored to be working with Get Hip (the label created by The Cynics’ Greg and his wife Barbara).
We ARE working on a whole new full-length LP of 10 new songs which will sound nothing like our first album, or its follow up 2010 EP “Quit Music.” The new stuff is a lot more modern-sounding, more simple songs with lots of shakers, stomps, clapping, and words about GIRLS. We look forward to traveling in support of all our projects, as always.

Meeting of Important People will be celebrating the re-release of their first album this Saturday at The Thunderbird Café in Lawrenceville with Pete Bush & Hoi Polloi, and Valedictorian. Show starts at 9pm, $5 at the door.

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