I often forget to check up on Vice's online TV venture, VBS.TV, and that's just as well, because then I would really never get anything done at the computer. Why? Original mini shows that are informative and entertaining, but without relying on a bunch of slick professional "hip" gimmickry. Actually, sometimes the production borders on the amateurish, but it makes the content more believable and easier to connect with.
Probably my favorite aspect about most of the shows is that they let the people in the stories mainly speak for themselves, or they send an awesome person out to get that story. Case in point: the series Soft Focus, in which the painfully stylish, painfully amazing musician Ian Svenonius -- of Nation of Ulysses, the Make-Up, Weird War, etc. -- interviews other musicians he respects. (Past guests: Billy Childish, Kevin Shields of My Bloody Valentine, Mark E. Smith of the Fall, and so on).
Some of the latest episodes feature Mr. Svenonius in England (eh, he's there a lot, I once bumped into him on the steps of the British Museum), but the latest takes him oop norf - to Manchester! To interview the infamous Shaun Ryder, leader of the drugged-out, chaotic Happy Mondays, forerunners of the "Madchester" psychedelic dance/rock scene in the late Eighties/early Nineties. None of these names might ring a bell to most in Miami, but, the Mondays' first discs were shaped by an up-and-coming producer by the name of Paul Oakenfold.
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Here's the first of four parts of the Ryder interview. Ol' Shaun is still impish and nearly unintelligible with his thick Manc accent. I love the weird, animal-like groan he emits when Ian asks if he's excited about playing in the States. "Eegghghghgh... I don't really DO excited any more!"
Later, Ian posits the statement that after the Happy Mondays, English audiences no longer wanted to just watch a rock band -- they wanted to dance too. Shaun's response? "Ehhh.... I think it was the ecstasy!"