Saturday, October 17, 2009

Meeting Of Important People

Meeting of Important People (photo by Rebecca Chiappelli)

In the late summer of 2008, a Pittsburgh band with the high-falutin' name of Meeting of Important People had one of their songs, “Mothers Pay More,” released on a national "Key Party" sampler.

And hey, the Brit-pop tune, a sort of Zombies-meet-The Who mash-up, became an internet hit. The guys followed the cut with a full-length CD, and self-released their self-named debut in March of this year.

It didn't take long for the tracks to pick up a following. In July, the band signed with the LA-based Authentik label. The impress is a twenty first century company; instead of peddling hard-copy CDs, they put their acts' material on the web for download on sites like iTunes and Amazon MP3.

They reissued "Meeting of Important People" the following month, and it's gotten some love on the digital platform. It was considered "new and notable" on the iTunes Store's singer-songwriter category, not a bad accolade for Pittsburgh garage rockers.

MOIP's sound is from the 1960s British Mod Invasion, deconstructed music with upbeat rhythms, bouncy melodies, crash-bang-boom drums, and mindworm hooks. Their themes often center on the odd-ball relationships of youth with his personal world.

Sounds a little off-the-wall, but angst has moved a lot of wax, and they have enough tongue-in-cheek lyricism and the musical chops to pull it off.

It's not the first time around the track for the trio. Guitarist/lead Josh Verbanets, bassist Aaron Bubenheim and drummer/keyboardist Matt Miller have all played in big-time Pittsburgh bands.

Miller was pounding the kit for Lohio, Troy Hill's Bubenheim played for the bluesy Br'er Fox, Resistor, and Central Plains, and frontman Verbanets made a couple of stops along the road himself.

Plum's Verbanets came by his rock jones honestly, hooked when his dad spun Alice Cooper's "Love It to Death" when he was a kid. He played in a high school group, went off to college, and came back as a member of the power-pop threesome The You in 2006. They recorded an LP with producer Brian Deck (Modest Mouse) for Pure Tone Music, a subsidiary of Sony/Epic.

But amid some major-label politicking, the album was never released. When the deal went south, so did The You.

Verbanets eventually sat in with Lohio, and Miller recognized him from a The You show he had caught. They collaborated writing with band founder Greg Dutton, but three is a crowd, and Dutton was the alpha dog of Lohio. Rather than bang heads creatively, the pair eventually decided to chase their own vision, and MOIP was born in 2008, first as a side project, then as a full-time gig this year.

The band members have shared the stage with The Secret Machines, Blonde Redhead, and the Sam Roberts Band. Their tracks have received heavy airplay on XFM and terrestrial radio and have been placed into films and television, even before their album was released. The iTunes suits gave them some recognition.

Hey, they've even released their own Authentik vid of "Brittney Lane Don't Care," directed by Thom Gunt, who's done some Anti-Flag and Iggy Pop stuff. It, like their songs, has a hook - everything in it but the band members is made of cardboard, which helped get them some notice and ink in the rush hour crowd of internet music vids.

They're finishing up the year by touring the state, performing at a label party in Brooklyn, and on stage for a couple of rockfests - Brooklyn's CMJ Festival, Bruar Falls showcase in October, and Toronto's International Pop Overthrow Festival in November. MOIP did over 30 shows to support the CD in the East, Midwest and Canada, and they were named WYEP-FM's local act of the year for 2009.

Whether MOIP break out will have a lot to do with the Authentik business model. They have a solid indie sound that should appeal to the college radio scene, and being web-based instead of a local phenomena gives them quick access to national markets. Whether that works better than the traditional "release a CD, push it on the radio, and tour like madmen to support it" model will be seen.

But hey, so far, so good. In July of 2010, they released their new "Quit Music" CD, a garage rocker with a 60's pop sound. They'll hold a release party July 24th at the Thunderbird for 21+, and an all ages show, with Good Night, States Friday, July 30th at The Andy Warhol Museum. Everyone that attends will get a copy of the CD.

But MOIP is in a sort of limbo state right now, with two CD releases but not yet known well enough outside the region to tour full-time, and with home front responsibilities that require some steady bread. All have day jobs: Miller works in the Carnegie Cafe at the Carnegie Museums in Oakland, Verbanets is a financial analyst at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, and Bubenheim works in the title department for Federated Mortgages on Mt. Washington.

As Albert Einstein, renowned player of the slide rule, once said "I never think of the future - it comes soon enough." We'll see what it holds for MOIP.

MOIP - "Brittney Lane Don't Care"

No comments: