By Tiffany Razzano
New York City got a fresh taste of the new lineup of up-and-coming Pittsburgh indie rockers The You. The group came to town to play at Sin-e on April 10, 2006.
But NYC is lucky they’re getting the chance to catch this band at all, as lead guitarist, vocalist and songwriter, Josh Verbanets, without a band, nearly quit music a few months back.
“I’ve had the band for a few years, with different friends, kids I went to high school with, and we’d come home to play over college breaks,” he said. “But I would always lose band members to college or they’d get mad at me.” Verbanets found himself alone with a newly recorded, full-length album, ready to give up music.
Then he decided to put together a band for one final show. He brought in his friends from the Pittsburgh three-piece, The Quiver, and the band hasn’t stopped ever since. This, what he calls the “professional version of the band,” seems to be the final lineup, said Verbanets and “so far this version of the band is going really well.”
Aside from Verbanets, the lineup consists of Mike Paschka on guitar and backing vocals, “a real folk rocker, like Bob Dylan and Neil Young, who plays a great chunky guitar,” Verbanets commented. Next is Dave Schewe on drums and backing vocals, described as “brilliant, a real power pop, jazz drummer.” The quartet is evened out with Chad Mikolaicik, a “really, really, really good” bassist.
The group is currently sitting on the full-length album that Verbanets was lucky enough to have Brian Deck, who’s worked with Modest Mouse, Iron and Wine, and the Secret Machines, to produce. The group’s record label, Pure Tone Music, sent his demo out to every big producer and according to Verbanets “everybody wanted to work on it.”
Deck wound up being the guy for the job and Verbanets went out to Chicago for a month during the summer of 2005. Without a band behind him though, the rest of the instruments were played by older, session musicians. As a result, there are two very different sounds on the album.
“One half is lo-fi, basement demos, mastered for the album, and the other half is lush and overly produced by Brian Deck and featuring session players,” Verbanets laughed.
Now all the band needs is to find a company to distribute their album, and they’re optimistic it will catch the attention of a major label to do so. That’s part of what they hope to achieve at the industry showcase they’re playing at Sin-e.
“Everyone who hears the record seems to like it. The label wants to get the best release deal they can get,” Verbanets said. “It’s really accessible music that’s not that complicated. It’s music everyone will like.”
He describes his sound as relatively straightforward, rough, garage pop. He does acknowledge that most people who hear his music, particularly the older demos, get a very British feel from his songs. “I don’t want to be a fucking revitalization!” he said. He maintained that the “vocals sound rough,” and his music has a very British quality to it “because that’s the way it came out because [he] doesn’t know how to record music.”
“The Brian Deck songs are not quite as old British garage rock. They sound more like 50- year-old men playing,” he laughed. “The songs I recorded sound like 12-year-olds.”
In fact, Verbanets might cite British influences on his song writing, such as Syd Barrett, The Rolling Stones, The Who, Belle and Sebastian, and The Kinks, but he also is influenced by an equal amount of American musicians, such as Kurt Cobain, Wilco, Alice Cooper, Joni Mitchell and The Ramones. The influences are all over the place, helping him to form his own unique sound that’s hard to place in any other band.
The You also hope to find themselves in New York City more often now that there’s an actual band. They used to play in New York every few months or so, but stopped when Verbanets was left solo. The Sin-e show is just the first of many to hopefully come.
The band is working out a deal to play at Vicious NYC, an underground club “where all the beautiful people go” and is known to host bands that break within a few months of playing there, such as the Secret Machines and The Killers. If all goes well, The You will be back in town playing on May 16, 2006, and they could find themselves as the next big band to break.