Photo credit: www.polstarphotography.com
Last fall the World/Inferno Friendship Society played at Mr. Small's Theatre with the Subhumans and a handful of other punk bands. It was a hardcore crowd - lots of big dudes in studded leather jackets - and when World/Inferno came on, with their nice suits and accordions and horns, the crowd was clearly skeptical. People were looking around like, What is this nonsense?
And then World/Inferno began playing. Within minutes, the angry mohawked kids were dancing around and having a blast. It was a beautiful thing to witness.
The World/Inferno Friendship Society will be visiting Belvedere's in Pittsburgh on September 23. We rang up the group's charismatic frontman, Jack Terricloth, a man who joyously answers his phone thusly: "This is Jack. What's your name?" Terricloth told us about his online advice column, our questionable taste in music, and the likelihood of his band doing iPod commercials.
I’ve read many different descriptions of your sound. One of my favorites is “an insane punk circus.” Do you think that’s accurate, or do you have a better description?
“Circus punk” is the one I always go for. Whether or not I’m insane, of course, is for the authorities to decide. But I feel like I’m perfectly normal.
We’re big fans of the Dresden Dolls - their drummer Brian Viglione is touring with you now. How is he fitting in?
Like butter. We’ve known each other for a very long time. We used to play with Dresden Dolls all the time. It was just perfectly natural for him to come into the fold.
Who else will be playing with you on this tour?
There’ll be at least seven of us. I believe Raja Azar is playing piano. We have two horn players, Miss Corrigan and Mr. Hess. And also Miss Sandra Malak is playing bass. And of course Mr. Lucky Strano. Is that everybody? It’s always an adventure, I never know who’s gonna show up.
Which rock n roll frontmen have inspired you?
Well, I do like David Bowie very much. But I don’t like rock n roll very much at all. I’d say, Cab Calloway or Paul Robeson would be inspirations to me.
Your last record (Addicted to Bad Ideas) was inspired by actor Peter Lorre. What took you down that path?
Being in the position that I’m in, which is the frontperson of an angry, anti-establishment band, I’ve often tried to look back and see people that were antecedents of this kind of thing I do, and, other than Paul Robeson, Peter Lorre seemed to be that guy. Peter Lorre seemed successful, completely his own man, and at the same time, completely fucked up. When you’re writing about stuff, nobody wants to hear about how Jack Terricloth feels about his life. I was trying to find someone in the past with the same kind of problems in the same kind of situation that we’re in, and Peter Lorre seemed like that guy.
What are your plans for the next record? Will there be any specific themes on it?
We’re recording it in March of next year, and it should be out by next fall. I think one theme record is enough. This one’s going to be a bunch of great songs kids can cry and dance to at the same time.
You have a feature on your website called “What Would Jack Do,” where fans write to you for advice. Why do you think people seek your guidance?
(Laughs). I get away with stuff, and they want to know how to get away with stuff as well. And I’m happy to share my misguided guidance.
If Apple called and wanted to use one of your songs in an iPod commercial, how would you respond?
How much money? We’ve actually had that happen a couple of times, and they’ve never offered as much money as would be worth us looking foolish to our friends. However, we do have a figure in mind.
Do you prefer the cult following you have now, or someday would you like to subvert the mainstream?
What’s that quote… They sentenced me to 20 years of boredom for trying to fight the system from within. I don’t really want to be inside the system. I love the cult kids, they’re all just like me, we hang out. But whatever happens happens. Could not give a damn either way.
Photo credit: Konstantin Sergeyev
I understand that you’ve written some books. What are they about and where could one track them down?
They’re available on amazon.com and all that. The last one I wrote was about a bartender who is, against his will, brought into secret police of a post-revolution city in some place that seems like New York, but also seems like Eastern Europe. It’s about choices people make, basically. Like, if you had no money, and the government offered you a bunch of money to do something you do anyway, what would you do?
If you had to give up music or drugs for the rest of your life, which would you choose?
Oh, definitely drugs. Music is the reason I’m alive. Drugs are just a hobby.
What can folks expect if they come see you at Belvedere’s?
They should expect sweating and drinking and crying and laughing and pogoing, and they should also expect whatever they’re going to do, because that’s what we’re going to do. So there will be dancing, drinking, singing, and having a very good time.
Finally, we did a feature on our blog where we ranked all 100 bands we saw live last year, and World/Inferno came in 12th. Should we apologize for not ranking you higher?
Out of 100, 12 sounds ok. Who were the top 11?
I don’t remember all of them off the top of my head… Daft Punk, the Hold Steady, TV On the Radio, Pearl Jam…
I like TV On the Radio, they’re cool. Pearl Jam? Did you say Pearl Jam? Is the year 1993? I mean, you’re gonna start talking about, like, Boston or something after that. It’s the 21st century, come on. Get with it!
Video: World/Inferno Friendship Society - "The Brother of the Mayor of Bridgewater"
The World/Inferno Friendship Society play at Belvedere's on Tuesday, September 23. Visit them online at www.worldinferno.com or www.myspace.com/worldinferno.