Local supergroup Meeting of Important People releases Britpoppy debut | Music | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Local supergroup Meeting of Important People releases Britpoppy debut

Perhaps it's sloth, but there's a natural rhythmic and syntactical ease that defines what we've come to know as "pop sensibility." Josh Verbanets, for one, insists his music is "really lazy songwriting." But it's also an art -- a method for feeding back to us the more enjoyable aspects of our everyday auditory experiences in an amplified form -- that Verbanets and the band Meeting of Important People have honed to near perfection.

Meeting of Important People began with the serendipitous meeting of a couple of local music vets: Verbanets, of mid-'00s power-pop band The You, and drummer Matt Miller, of Lohio. Miller had essentially quit seeing live music after seeing Arcade Fire at Red Rocks ("I can't imagine reaching an emotional level like that again," he says). But catching The You by accident at Club Café, he was enamored with Verbanets' songwriting and vocals.

The You became ensnared in a major-label deal that went south, and Verbanets gave up on the idea of fronting a band. But he did sit in on bass with Lohio some time later, and Miller recognized him.

The bandmates now see that encounter as almost a matter of fate: "It was a blessing to have that happen," Miller recalls. With the addition of bassist Aaron Bubenheim (Br'er Fox, Central Plains), Verbanets began writing new songs, and the band spent a good chunk of 2008 recording its self-titled debut album, which it's releasing this Sat., March 28, at Brillobox.

The band's flavor is largely mid-'60s Britpop, with serious nods to the melodic work of The Kinks and The Zombies, but it doesn't come off as derivative. While there's space on the album for the occasional quiet piece, the mood remains mostly in pleasant-to-raucous territory, and Verbanets' voice, at once emotive and precise, displays impressive range.

"I guess for most people, songwriting is a craft -- for me, songwriting has always been really accidental," Verbanets says. During the time he composed many of the songs, "I was working in a video store for a while, and a customer would come in and say, 'Do you have that Hidalgo movie?' and I'd run to the back and call my cell phone, leave myself a message, singing that."

While Meeting of Important People, by virtue of its connections and relations, is definitely embedded in a musical community here, the members see their band as a project that stands alone, and look to promote it as such.

"Our band is more song-oriented than scene-oriented," Verbanets says. "It's difficult to get people to take it seriously because the sound of it doesn't lend itself to a genre. So it's our belief that it's just the law of averages: The more people that hear the song, that lends validity to it. People know the song, they can sing along."


Meeting of Important People CD release with Mariage Blanc and The Red Western. 10 p.m. Sat., March 28. Brillobox, 4104 Penn Ave., Bloomfield. $5. 412-621-4900 or www.brillobox.net

click to enlarge Take a meeting: Meeting of Important People (Matt Miller, Josh Verbanets and Aaron Bubenheim, from left)
Take a meeting: Meeting of Important People (Matt Miller, Josh Verbanets and Aaron Bubenheim, from left)

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