What do you get when you combine a horny bassist and his groupie girlfriend, a laconic drummer with impulse control issues, a keyboardist with a fallback career in contract law and a frontman with ego issues that rival Anton Newcombe‘s? Potentiating two of Williamsburg, Brooklyn’s most important cultural exports — post-punk pop and ironic self-awareness — The All-for-Nots has a shot at becoming the first true breakout, must-see hit of the web video generation.
The show is financed by Vuguru, which also made the popular Prom Queen and represents Michael Eisner’s quest for personal reinvention after being ousted from the Mouse House. The production team, Dinosaur Diorama, is helmed by Thom Woodley and Kathleen Grace, who garnered New York media attention and accolades with their take on hipster hooliganism in The ‘Burg. And of course it’s socially networked to the hilt, with the inevitable MySpace page and a promotional agreement with the newly AOL-owned Bebo.
Cranky old folks may be reminded of the candy-colored, network-produced attempt at cashing in on psychedelia known as The Monkees. Gen X’ers who’ve complained for years that Sub Pop totally sold out might savage the show, meanwhile tuning in to every episode and lurking on the fictional band members’ online profiles for snark-fuel. But the show sends up the cynical, tight-jeaned indie rock snobs even as it reaches out to that audience, and hey, even Pitchfork has thrown its hat into the online video ring, so who’s judging?
This week, the digerati turned out to see the band perform at the South by Southwest launch party in the Club deVille (where Eisner flirted with death by suffocation under a pile of business cards). The launch party was a homecoming for Grace, and was perfectly timed to coincide with the departure from Austin of the Interactive nerds and Film geeks to make room for the Music hipsters. NewTeeVee’s Liz Gannes captured some video of the festivities, and earlier in the week filmed some candid interviews with the cast and crew.
[From Liz: here's footage of the All-for-Nots playing at their launch party]
[It's Liz again: here's the crowd at the show. Totally did not notice Mark Cuban (who's distributing the series on HDNet) hamming for the camera till I uploaded the video]
It seemed like less than a year ago Michael Eisner said that the web had yet to offer “original produced professional high-grade quality entertainment” and The ‘Burg was paying the Pabst Blue Ribbon tabs on credit cards. Prom Queen, Vuguru’s first series from scripted web serial pioneers Big Fantastic has since racked up millions upon millions of views and birthed international spin-offs, while The ‘Burg managed to score a product placement deal with Motorola thanks to VideoEgg and will produce new episodes if and when they can afford to.
You’ll be able to watch The All-for-Nots pretty much anywhere you can get a broadband connection, though some restrictions may apply. It’ll even be available on the News Corp.- and NBC-backed Hulu, on Verizon phones over VCAST and, of course, on YouTube. I wouldn’t be surprised if a Sasha Frere-Jones mention or an appearance at Coachella is in the cards.
The faux band, and the real talent behind it, has come a long way from the tour kickoff in Manhattan’s Lower East Side. And a success could serve to help legitimize much of what independent producers are doing online, in music and video. After all, while The Monkees may have been a counterculture punchline, you can thank them for introducing Jimi Hendrix to millions.