The World/Inferno Friendship Society is more like a punk circus than it is a band, and Jack Terricloth has been the unquestioned ringleader for more than twenty years. It’s hard to believe that a sound so bizarre has endured for more than two decades, especially among the New York punk scene which has very little tolerance for nuance. But WIFS has carved out their niche in the Big Apple with a mix of otherworldly talent and theatrical pageantry unmatched by any of their contemporaries.
The group has truly graduated some greats, like Brian Viglione of the Dresden Dolls, Yula Beeri, and Franz Nicolay (to name just a few). But no matter who they have to replace, they continue to bring the same level of tenacity, talent, and showmanship, due in large part to their diabolical leader Mr. Terricloth.
WIFS has an imminent big-time show at one of Brooklyn’s up-and-coming punk venues, Brooklyn Bazaar, and they are working tirelessly on their new record. But preparatory to unleashing their 13-piece carnival of horrors onto New York, Jack Terricloth sat down with Dying Scene to talk about the new record, how he hopes to one day reunite with Sly Stone, and meeting the members of Leftover Crack through their mutual drug dealer.
Read the full interview below.
So what’s the word on Saturday’s Show at Brooklyn Bazaar?
It’s going to be a crazy-ass time. We haven’t played for two months even though we’ve been recording. We are going to do all the hits and a couple of new songs, and I’m really looking forward to it. I don’t think all thirteen of us have been in the same room in way too long. It’s going to be off the hook.
When can we expect the new record?
After Christmas hopefully — sooner the better. Alternative Tentacles wants it by Halloween, but we are running way behind schedule because when you have your own recording studio you don’t have to rush. Then again, some of my favorite albums were recorded in eight hours, not eight months.
What are you calling it?
All Borders Are Porous to Cats because all Americans are immigrants at one point or another, and it just seemed to be in the zeitgeist at the moment. It’s about a cat in the hat who wants to come to your house and hide out. I’m really enjoying making it, and it’s quite remarkable.
Where are you guys recording?
Roscoe, New York. Our mastermind piano player has a facility up here, a compound you might even call it. It’s very nice as long as you remember to bring everything you need for a week with you because the nearest grocery is 45 minutes away. No cell phone service and the internet only works if you stand on one toe and lift it to the sky.
Got any goodies to share about the record?
It’s longer than most of the other records. We recorded too much for it, so we might have to try and cut it down. It’s really groovy. We’ve released two numbers already — one on a comp and a single in honor of whistleblowers. It’s kinda also inspired by Sly and the Family Stone. I used to work for Sly Stone, and it’s based on some stories he told me when I was his chauffeur in the early ’90s. To us, he is the titular cat in the hat that all borders are porous too, gotta keep running. And of course, there is some clickety clockety circus punk stuff on it too, but Sly Stone is a touchstone of the new record.
Why does World Inferno fit in so well with punk fans do you think?
It’s just a scene, man. I met Leftover Crack because we had the same drug dealer, that’s how we met. We just started hanging out. I’ve been hanging out at C-Squat since before C-Squat was C-Squat. It’s not about the music. I am a punk rocker, and I have been for thirty years now. The music always stunk. It was the people you met and the politics, and I guess that’s why it’s a scene.
What do you think of the culture around World Inferno specifically?
I appreciate people who come to shows. I try not to engage it much because that would be weird. I am a friendly guy, and I will say hi to everybody. I don’t go to the parties; I want to encourage them because I want the beautiful music we make to be heard, but that’s more their thing than my thing. I’m in a cult. I hang out with all these musicians, we tour the world together, and these kids have their things we are just the soundtrack to. I’m not a demagogue or anything.
Where do you stand on the current PC vs non-PC punk argument?
I’m dating a much younger woman, and we worked out that I’m a very liberal person if I were living in the 1950s. I’m old-fashioned, but I am like a ’50s radical, which makes me seventy years out of date. But that said, I call disabled people differently able, and I’ll march on Washington at the drop of a hat. I don’t think about it very much. It’s just instinct.
Do you feel like a proud father, seeing all your World Inferno alumni doing great things in music?
We are all still friends, and we all wind up at the same parties and weddings…and funerals, unfortunately, since it’s a scene. I just went to see Yula Beeri’s band play on Friday in Brooklyn. We all hang out and call on each other’s birthdays. I don’t think there is one member I couldn’t call tomorrow morning and say hi. Oh,in fact, we are re-releasing the Just the Best Party record, the one we did before Red Eyed Soul, and everyone that was on that record will be a part of the reissue. I’ll tell you, I’ve been seeing an awful lot of photos of me from ten or fifteen years ago. That one should be ready for Halloween because all we have to do is slap a logo on a piece of paper.
Want to divulge any information about this year’s Hallowmas?
Still working so fervently on that. It is going to be very, very colorful, and we spent a lot of money on it, so you might want to bring sunglasses. I love Halloween, but it’s almost become too much to bear. I want to enjoy Halloween, but I get so nervous around August because it’s nonstop meetings and choreographing and putting curses on people. Ms. Malak [Sandra Malak, WIFS bass player] said, “Sometimes I just want to have a dinner party on Halloween. I don’t want to do this,” and that will happen one day, but probably not while I’m living.
So does that mean you plan to do Hallowmas every year until you die?
Oh no. I’m going to live forever. Apropos of which, a bat just crossed the moon — which is a lyric I wrote or stole. Being out in the woods is crazy.
Are to happy with where the band is or are you still trying to grow?
We definitely got bigger than we intended to get. I’d like to play more, I’d like to be on tour most of the year; the problem is working with everyone’s schedules. But walking down Bedford Avenue, I can’t go a block and a half without being accosted. Usually, it’s for negative reasons like “Hey aren’t you that guy in that awful band?” But I always wanted to be in a very good band, and I don’t mind saying I’m in a very good band. I’d just like to tour more, but with thirteen people you gotta take things a little bit slower.