I suppose I'm in the minority in finding Ian Svenonius, front man of bands like the Nation of Ulysses, the Make Up, Weird War, and now Chain & the Gang, basically insufferable. He's a good showman, but only so long as he doesn't have to make much sense.
I've never been too crazy about the music he makes--even the stuff that's OK seems to favor style and artifice over substance. But what really annoys me is his Internet talk show, Soft Focus, hosted by VBS.tv, the online video arm of Vice Magazine.
In late March, Svenonius rolled into Chicago for a taping at the Logan Square Auditorium, where he interviewed Steve Albini and Mick Collins (Dirtbombs, Gories).
The segment with Albini is now up, and he proves again that he's a great interview subject: witty, smart, and accommodating. He candidly addresses his own tendency to feel superior to other people, but it's clear that over the years he's become much more humble and generous. He basically saves Svenonius over and over again, bailing him out when he asks an inane, incoherent question by finding a thread of sense to respond to. His patience is impressive.
I assume Albini has some degree of respect for or friendship with Svenonius, but there are still instances when he can't abide the host's quasi-metaphysical horseshit. At one point Svenonius insists that listening to a record is like having a conversation with the band; Albini points out that this is obviously false, since the band gets no direct input from the listener.
I guess there's a chance Svenonius is being silly when, in the episode's intro, he mangles Carl Sandburg's famous description of Chicago by calling the city "The pork butcher to the world." But my hunch is he's talking out his ass, like usual.