Meeting of Important People
The Van Allen Belt
Andy Warhol Museum
The band Kiss had one on their cereal, “Kiss Krunch,” The Archies, cartoon had one on the back of “Super Sugar Crunch,” cereal, The Monkees had one on “Honey Comb,” cereal, so it was only natural that Meeting of Important People would have their own flexi vinyl. Unfortunately theirs will not be attached to the back of a “Wheaties,” box, but every fan that goes to their show this Saturday at the Andy Warhol Museum will get a copy of their latest single, “All Rode Off Together.” The trio’s first new release in over two years! We caught up with lead vocalist and guitarist Josh Verbanets to talk about the exciting show and single.
Sound Scene Express: Was it planned to release this single Saturday because of Record Store Day?
Josh Verbanets: No, the whole Record Store Day angle was a complete coincidence. We have a nice relationship with The Warhol Museum and have a history of some really fun shows together (our 2010 QUIT MUSIC Ep release outdoors on their side lot, a TAMI-inspired pop revue in 2011, last year’s sold-out entrance gallery show with The Nox Boys) and originally had just been planning another show together, until Ben Harrison at Warhol asked if we had any new music we might want to put out in conjunction with the evening. We all realized that the date we had booked, April 18th, was Record Store Day…. and that got the gears turning, we decided to record and release a single, a giveaway for whoever shows up.
SSE: A new single, is this a sign of what is to come?
JV: Definitely. We’ve been playing together as a trio for 7 or 8 years now, and have evolved a bit from the brit-pop stuff we might be most known for, from the short songs with nonsense lyrics. We have an entire batch of new songs that we’ve been playing live since right after our last release, for almost two years now, that many people around town are getting familiar with, but we haven’t really found exactly the right way to record or release any of it yet. These songs are a little more operatic, developed a little more acutely, and are maybe a bit more like Soundgarden than The Kinks, but with the same twists and turns and goofiness we usually employ. Things keep changing year to year, and the idea of doing another full length album just hasn’t seemed all that exciting or felt quite right, even though we pretty much one written and workshopped– but we thought this particular song would make a great stand-alone single, and it seemed like the right time.
SSE: It has been two years since your last release. What took so long?
JV: We were really happy with our last full-length album (“My Ears Are Having a Heart Attack”), which was almost completely inspired and financed by a Kickstarter campaign we ran at the beginning of 2012, life-changing stuff for us. Since around that time, I’ve been working with comedian Gab Bonesso on a project we call Josh and Gab, which is a crazy high-energy duo that goes into schools and holds bullying awareness assemblies with garage rock and hip-hop. Has been an amazing experience and has taken up most of my time, it’s been a great creative outlet and the most people i’ve ever performed for. In the meantime, MOIP has been working on developing all sorts of new music, but we just haven’t found the right way to get it out there– Full albums are expensive to make and consume these days, and without really knowing if there’s an audience that wants to hear this stuff, i’d rather just make a bedroom demo or record the band playing it on my iphone rather than spend 6 months in the studio. A single seemed like a nice way to say hello to the people who like us around town, remind press and radio that we’ve got a lot in the works, and say something new in a song, and it was a good chance to see how one of the new songs would work on a proper recording.
SSE: What inspired this song?
JV: Our dear friends Jeff and Tami, who run local theater company Bricolage, contacted me about a year ago and asked me to participate in their 2014 BUS Fundraiser. This is their yearly event, where a handful of Pittsburgh playwrites are selected to each take a bus ride, and then write an entire one-act play inspired by their experience, to be performed live the next night in front of an audience. So, they challenged me to write the theme song for BUS9 using the same method (whole song written and performed in a 24 hour period) and I found myself bashing “All Rode Off Together” out on acoustic guitar as the opening act of the event. I wanted to write a simple song about getting on the bus in the morning, or maybe the first day of school… the feeling of dread, mistrust of everyone you see, and ultimately a big anthemic climax when you realize you’re all going the same direction and might be stuck together for awhile, had better figure out how to get along. During its debut performance at BUS 9, the mic cut out, so i shouted out for the audience to join in and help me sing the choruses, which later led to the idea to form a hometown choir for the recording.
SSE: The flexi vinyl idea is pretty awesome, why did you decide to go with that?
JV: We wanted a fun promotional item to give away to all guests at the show, and instead of doing a traditional 45, go with something a little more wacky, like when you used to get a flexi vinyl in your Happy Meal or stuck to your Post cereal box. Had been dying to work with Wild Kindness for several years now, and this seemed like the perfect opportunity. The cover artwork is the exact print of a photo I saw posted on a local message board, of a fella named Charles Miklos at West View Park as a boy in 1923. We got in touch with the Miklos family and were thrilled that they let us use the image. Just a dude at West View Park, seems to be the only person in the entire place, with the legendary Dips roller coaster behind him.
SSE: Is this a new formed relationship with Wild Kindness?
JV: Jeff Betten at Wild Kindness has been simply the kindest and most dedicated person I’ve ever worked with when it comes to ‘a label.’ As soon as we had the idea to put out a single, we contacted Jeff and all jumped at the chance to work together, had been trying to find a reason for years. We will certainly be working with them more in the future, and have had a blast getting to know many of their acts even better in the process.
SSE: “All Rode Off Together,” featured some talented local singers, should we
expect some guest appearances at the show?
JV: Oh boy, we were able to assemble our local singer Dream Team for the last chorus of the recording, which turns into a big fake-Coldplay anthemic bit. I know how busy everyone is and didn’t want to bug them, but just said that if anyone ends up at the show, they will be forced to get on-stage and sing their parts. You can hear Addi Twigg and Morgan Erina’s incredible voices cutting through everyone else on that last chorus, with Max Somerville singing a crazy church note, and the entire choir is hands-down some of my favorite singers ever (Chet and Molly, Andre Costello, Zack from The Nox Boys, old friends from Neighbours and New Shouts, our bassist Aaron Bubenheim’s brother David, and many more.)