Interview with Jack Terricloth of The World/Inferno Friendship SocietyPhil Collins - July 10, 2016
Cabaret punks The World/Inferno Friendship Society embarked on a coast-to-coast tour last week. The band last released This Packed Funeral, which made the final four in Change the Rotation’s best of the year bracket in 2014. World/Inferno play Chop Shop in Wicker Park on Tuesday with Culture Shock and locals Voice of Addiction. More information on that show here. Lead singer Jack Terricloth sat down with us over Skype before World/Inferno’s show in Philadelphia on Friday. Jeff Young, violin player for World/Inferno, transcribed this interview. Jack talked with myself and Danny of Don’t Panic Records & Distro about life in the van, what’s coming up for the band and some Chicago memories.
Jack: Hey, how are you, my name is Jack Terricloth from that World/Inferno band.
Phil: Hey, doing pretty good, I’m Phil from Change the Rotation.
Danny: I’m Danny.
Jack: Danny, Phil, nice to meet you, what’s the good word?
Phil: Oh, doing pretty good, thanks for joining us, it’s a pleasure to interview you for the blog here, and we’re excited to have you coming to Chicago in a couple days.
Jack: Always love to be in Chicago. As you know, or maybe you don’t know, our baritone player is from Chicago, or lives in Chicago anyway. He was in that Deal’s Gone Bad band. Who were very good. I always thought it was a bad idea to have the word “bad” in your band name, but they did pretty well.
Phil: Well, here in Chicago we’re familiar with deals going bad, so it’s all right. So today’s day three of your tour, how’s it going?
Jack: Day three and no one’s punched each other yet. It’s all been a good time, I haven’t lost my voice yet, no, everyone’s fine, I would still like more sleep - you know, the first week of any tour, you’re still partying, and your body hasn’t realized that you should stop doing that, so as I just said to our friends in Culture Shock, by Seattle, we’re going to be great. The whole tour will be great, that’s just for me personally, I WILL be great in Seattle, but yes, everything’s cool.
Phil: Great. So Culture Shock, I’ve just become familiar with them myself, but we actually caught Subhumans a few weeks ago at the Double Door, fantastic show, have you guys toured with the Subhumans crew at all before this?
Jack: We certainly have, and I just have to mention that one of the members of Culture Shock is sitting across the room, so, anything I say about them will be sugarcoated- [whispering] terrible, god they can barely, they tuned - [all laughing] …Uh yeah, we’ve toured with Subhumans, god, for the last twelve years, an awful lot, and we toured with Citizen Fish once as well, so yes, old friends, old punk rockers, if they haven’t gotten along by now, they never will, but luckily, we have. Good guys.
Phil: I’m glad to see somebody just bringing the ska, you know, I’m all about that.
Jack: I do enjoy the Jamaica ska, I’m not sure, I think they might call themselves dub, do you call yourselves dub or ska?
Alex (from Culture Shock): No idea.
Jack: Let’s do a joint interview here. They want to know if you’re ska or not.
Alex: I think we might be punk rockers, but I’m not sure.
Jack: All right, but we’re all punk rockers, Christ! Do you guys avoid the ska thing, you don’t though?
Alex: Yeah no, we play ska, we invented ska punk I think.
Jack: They invented ska punk. In fact this is the best part of the interview already. Culture Shock invented ska punk. I enjoy Jamaica ska as much as the next guy, but Inferno is not a ska band, but, we do have an affinity for horns and upstrokes. Yes, everything’s been going quite well.
Phil: Excellent. And tonight you guys are sharing the stage with Mischief Brew as well, all on Alternative Tentacles lately, that’s pretty cool.
Jack: It is cool. My fifteen-year-old self is so impressed whenever Jello Biafra pops up on my cell phone, I want to show somebody, [whispering] I’m getting a phone call from Jello - and then it’s impossible to get him off the telephone. Yes, it’s very nice being on AT, they’re very responsible and a strong label, and I support them and all their anarchist anti-cop sentiments.
Danny: Hear hear.
Phil: Do you do any writing when you’re out on tour, or do you just focus on the live performance?
Jack: Do I do any writing? The couple times that we have, have been actually very very good, but you know, we drive eight hours a day and then have to soundcheck. We actually tried to do a new song today during soundcheck, and it was annoying for the other bands and for the sound people. But it’s a very good song - we try to, but touring, as much fun as it looks, is extremely tedious. The only good thing is you get free alcohol. And drugs sometimes.
Phil: Do you have a favorite kind of wine? I know you’re drinking red wine on the stage most of the time, that’s your go-to?
Jack: Well, Shiraz, this is a Malbec, it’s not actually that good but it was free, so…I do have a favorite but I can’t remember it now…yes, anything over $80 a bottle is my favorite.
Phil: So I have to ask, I know you guys always dress up really nicely on tour and everything, which is great, and it’s fun when the fans dress up too, does that present any challenges touring, like, packing up the van with your suits and everything, is it a lot to lug around?
Jack: Would you like to see my suitcase? This is going to be a written interview, not a video, but I think you’ll enjoy this. Gentlemen, this is my suitcase. It’s ancient, I think it’s from 1930, it’s broken already, it’s held together with a bungie cord because it’s ancient, and now, dig this, it’s an actual “suit-case,” things actually hang in here. And I never load the van, so the rest of the band hates my guts.
Phil: You’ve got it figured out.
Jack: Now dig this, the suits actually hang, and if you go like this, they come out. However, yes, the rest of the band hates my guts. Oh I’m sorry, did we chase Alex out of here, that’s too bad. Yeah, we stink all the time like other punk bands, we just have more things that stink, so really, I guess we actually stink more. We occasionally have to stop for dry cleaning, but, are you guys musicians, have you ever toured?
Danny: Yeah, a little bit.
Jack: So you know, there’s never any time to stop for anything.
Danny: I have two very smelly T-shirts.
Jack: Yeah, well I have four very smelly suits. And there’s eight of us, nine of us, I can’t even keep track, so eight very smelly people in a lot more clothes than you guys wear.
Phil: Are we talking one van, two vans, eight or nine people, that could fit in one van, actually…
Jack: Sometimes we tour with two vans, but we somehow decided we wanted to make money, so now we’re all packed in one van. There was a point where we had two vans, and I was like, this is totally cool, but now it’s all of us packed shoulder to shoulder. [Scott Hollingsworth walks in.] Hey Scott, how are you, I’m doing a Skype interview, it’s very exciting. Do you want to come in here?
Scott: That’s OK. [Leaves.]
Jack: Here’s our founding piano player…nah, he’s very shy. Well, what else would you like to know about me, gentlemen?
Danny: Being from Chicago, we know Wesley Willis out here - Wesley Willis has a song about World/Inferno.
Jack: I know, that was so cool!
Danny: Can you tell us a little about that?
Jack: I was so proud when I heard that, because I didn’t even know about it until after it came out. One night we played at the Fireside Bowl, which probably isn’t there anymore I imagine…
Danny: It’s back to being a bowling alley now.
Jack: We played there one night, and you know, there’s no dressing room there, which I know, sounds like a silly thing to say, but we all do warmups and whatnot, so I couldn’t find any place to warm up, because there’s no place to even get dressed. So I climbed up on the top of the building, and started to do vocal warmups, because I’m a musician, which are [singing] la la la la la la - it’s really ridiculous, as anyone can tell you that’s ever been in a band or in a room with me. So I’m up on the top of the Fireside Bowl, yodeling pretty much, somebody calls the police. The police come, like three police cars, with searchlights, and I’m singing, I’m just going [singing] ho, ho, ho, ho, ho - actually I should warm up again at this point. So the police come, they’re chasing me across the rooftops of the Fireside Bowl, I jump down into an alleyway, and the police leave, but then I realize, I can’t get out of this alleyway, because it doesn’t actually go to a street, it’s more of like, it’s just a courtyard, so I’m sitting there, and I’m like, all right, maybe someone will come get me, and then I’m there for a while, and I’m realizing, no one’s going to come get me at all. And this was before cell phones, which dates us all, and I actually don’t know what I’m going to do right now. I’m in the courtyard of a building, and so there’s a window, and I wait there for a while and I think about stuff and what I’ve done with my life and the choices I’ve made, why I’m in Chicago to begin with, so I finally start pounding on a window, and someone finally looks out to me, and it’s a guy in a tuxedo. And I’m like, “Really sorry, but I’m kinda trapped in your courtyard, and I’ve gotta play a show, and the police are chasing me,” and the guy just, absolute disgust, looks at me and goes, “You asshole. Wait there.” So I’m still sitting in the courtyard, and he pushes open a garden door and walks me through his really nice house, with a huge - there was a dinner party going on with hors d’oeuvres and an ice sculpture. And I’m just sitting there, I’m like, “Thank you so much,” and he’s like, “Shut up. You’re an asshole.” And all the dinner party guests were like, “Oh, who’s your friend, he’s so handsome, look at that guy,” and I’m like suddenly lead singer, I’m like, “Hi everybody, what’s going on,” and the guy’s like, “Shut up,” and he runs me through this really very fancy dinner party, which I would have liked to stay at, throws me pretty much down the stairs, and I’m trying to shake his hand and say “Thank you thank you,” and he’s like “Shut up,” and just throws me out, and I run directly into Wesley Willis, who’s going to the show, and he didn’t even know who we were, he just used to hang out at the Fireside, and I’m like, this is so fucking weird, and this guy’s like, “Hey man, who are you? Do I know you?” And I’m like, “I’m playing the show,” “I love the Fireside Bowl, Fireside Bowl is great! OK!” And I’m like, “Yeah…let’s go there now,” so me and Wesley Willis walk into the Fireside, and I’m like late, the band’s already onstage, I’m not even changed, I’m wearing my day suit, not my show suit, there’s a bunch of different suits, and the door guy’s like, “You asshole, where the fuck were you, why are the police driving around the block, what were you doing on the roof, we saw you on the roof! And don’t give me that ‘we can fly’ crap!” And Wesley Willis is like, “Hey man, he’s totally cool, yeah, let’s go inside the Fireside,” and I just walked right onstage and did the damn show, and Wesley Willis loved it, and I never spoke to him again, and then actually after he died, I heard the song. I was touched and impressed with him, not with myself, because yeah…I got chased by the police over the rooftops of Chicago and saved by Wesley Willis, you gotta love that.
Danny: Sounds like the making of a good Marx Brothers movie right there.
Jack: Exactly. Duck Soup.
Danny: I heard that you started the ceiling on fire at that show too, is that true?
Jack: We used to blow fire, I hope I did. Yeah, two of us used to blow fire, we stopped after that club in New England…we started to not get gigs because of the fire-breathing, plus I burnt my lip very badly one time and I’m very vain, so…I had a giant scab on my face for a while, and you couldn’t shave over it, so yeah it was gross. It was a scab with hair…it was very fun, I would like to start blowing fire again, every Halloween we try to find a venue that will let us do it, but no one will, and now we’re too big to lie about it, maybe we’ll change the name of the band at some point.
Phil: Maybe an outdoor show, they might let you pull that off?
Jack: You know, we actually tried to do that, two years ago at The Wick, in Brooklyn, and we built the whole show, it was outdoors, and they said you could do it, and then like two days before, “You know, we talked to the owners, and you really can’t,” “But we’ve got all these fire-twirlers…” so, we had to improvise. It was very disappointing, I will admit. You know, I want to ask you questions about yourselves, because I feel kind of rude only talking about myself. So, you guys play in bands?
Phil: Danny does, I don’t, I just write about music, go to shows, do that kind of stuff, but Danny’s been in a couple bands.
Jack: Anybody I might have heard of?
Danny: No, I play in a hardcore band called The Cheap Dates, and a post-hardcore band called Nude Model.
Jack: You know, I don’t know the difference between hardcore and post-hardcore.
Danny: I’m still learning myself.
Jack: I could go on a semantic rant there, but…if you’re post-hardcore, but that means you were hardcore once, so aren’t you still hardcore, or are you not hardcore anymore…sorry, this probably doesn’t make for the best interview, but…and Phil, someone has to actually watch us play, so I appreciate that.
Phil: You know, we were actually at a show you guys did a few years ago at the upstairs at Bottom Lounge that got kinda moved there at the last second…
Jack: Oh, because I got in a fist fight with the Adicts, is that what you want to talk about?
Danny: Word on the street, word on the street…
Jack: I got in a fistfight with the Adicts, yes I did, we were on tour with them for like two months, and they waited until the last week to punch me.
Danny: Oh my god.
Jack: And you know, it wasn’t that big of a deal, no one really got hurt, it was with their drummer Kid, and I gotta say, for a drummer, he did not hit very hard at all. It was broken up very quickly and, really, we had three more shows, and we had the same booking agent, [laughing], oh the disaster. So we just booked around them for the next week, but our booking agent had to book separate shows in the same cities, it was very funny. I’m not going to say we made up, but I haven’t seen them since…though a funny side note, they just played New York, and you know, I live in Brooklyn, and they just came through town and a friend of mine said, “Are you going to see the Adicts?” I was like, “No.” He said, “Why not?” I was like, “Ah, we had a falling out.” “You had a falling out with the club?” “No.” And then he didn’t believe me. I was like, “No, I had a falling out with the band.” He was like, “What do you mean you had a falling out with the band? You didn’t get in a fistfight with the Adicts,” “Yeah I did.” Whatever. Got nothing against them. Two drunks get in a fight in a bar. Wow, that’s shocking. But really, we were on tour with them for two months, we were sharing makeup by like, week three. But there you go, it happens.
Danny: I gotta say that Chicago show was one of the best though, I’ve seen you guys like a dozen times, and you guys were on fire, like you guys just seemed like you had a lot of fury built up…
Jack: We did have a lot to prove that night. And it was great - there was a time that we were more popular in Chicago than in New York, and it was just nice that we could put together such a big show pretty much last-minute…I don’t know if you remember the band The Blue Meanies, who were from Chicago?
Phil: Mm hm.
Jack: We toured with them a couple times. We have a lot of friends in Chicago, and it was very nice to be thrown off the tour but then still play such a big show, so it was very exciting.
Danny: Do you have a favorite bar in Chicago?
Jack: I do! Oh, Jesus Christ, Noah works there…The Empty Bottle! Yes, that’s it, that is my favorite bar. One of our many, many drummers works there, Noah from Mile Marker and also Head of Skulls and Disappears…so yes, I’m so happy I remembered that. The brain is a wonderful thing, when it works.
Phil: So I heard you guys are working on some new songs for a new EP…
Jack: Well, hopefully a new album, but we’re just going to release them as we go now, since that’s the new internet age thingy…one’s coming out on the new Punknews cassette tape. I’m excited about cassette tapes. It’s called Banned from the P.C. I think they mean personal computer though, not politically correct, though maybe it’s a double meaning, those guys are quite clever. Actually Mr. Gentile from Punknews is here tonight…and the second song is coming out on a European compilation, I don’t know what it’s called but it’s the Gunnar Records tenth anniversary compilation, it’s one of our European labels. So we’re recording very, very slowly and releasing a song at a time, and then we will give AT a bunch of songs which people have already heard, and they will probably yell at us. But once again, getting a phone call from Jello is worth it! [Imitating Jello’s voice] “I don’t know Jaaack, you’ve released all these songs before, just sayin’…” [all laugh]…I’m enjoying myself immensely, I hope I’m not annoying you guys.
Phil: Oh no, we’re enjoying it. I heard also recently, Sticks and Stones played a show…
Jack: We did! Love those guys. I was in a band called Sticks and Stones before World/Inferno, back in the ‘80s…we were a punk rock band, we weren’t very popular, we’re oddly enough more popular now, we seem to only get back together for cancer benefits, not sure what that means, but yeah, we did a benefit for a friend of ours a couple weeks ago, it was great to see those guys, we’re all still friends, I mean we all went to high school together, it was cool. And also, since we were doing a benefit, if we weren’t very good, no one could complain. ‘Cause if you complain, that means you’re against cancer benefits? Really? Yeah, it was fun. I don’t play guitar much anymore, but I was the guitar player in that band. Great, great guys. Johnny X, Osamu Kawahara, Chris Calello, and myself. It was a good time. Those guys don’t get out of the house much anymore, so I think they really enjoyed themselves.
Danny: They’re not living on the road out of a suitcase.
Jack: Ah no, definitely not. I think sometimes they might want to until they remember what it’s like to show up for soundcheck. Great guys, I really enjoy them.
Phil: Are there any newer punk bands that inspire you, any new albums that you’ve been listening to a lot?
Jack: I really do not listen to any contemporary music, I really don’t. I mean, friends-of-mine bands, I’m friends with Against Me! so I keep up with them…no, nope, anything after 1960 I don’t listen to. There’s a couple folk singers, Richard Shindell, who’s from New Jersey, but no, I listen to big band music and orchestral music at home. I mean, I still listen to the music I listened to when I was a teenager, but I cannot think of one contemporary band…I want to…I might have to come back to you on this one. Actually, is there anyone you’d recommend?
Phil, Danny: …
Jack: OK, yeah, see?! Haha!
Phil: You know, Rvivr is one of my favorites of the last couple years, they put out a really good album a few years back, if you’re into like the kind of emotional western straightforward rock kind of vibe, they put out a really great album.
Jack: I just don’t like rock music. I don’t.
Danny: Are you familiar with Mucca Pazza from here in Chicago?
Jack: No, I am not.
Danny: They are a punk rock marching band that we host here in our city.
Jack: We have the Hungry March Band in Brooklyn, who I think started that trend.
Danny: Oh really?
Jack: And they’re great. I think I was actually in that band at some point. But it’s like 22 people…that sounds like a lot of fun. I mean, I enjoy going out, I go see my friends play almost every night at home, but when I’m in my apartment, I pretty much listen to Benny Goodman and Mahler. But you know, what are you gonna do. I was going to say something else…oh this is funny, we did punk rock bowling, and I was so excited to see Dag Nasty. And that’s pretty much the most modern band that I listen to. And they haven’t put a record out since I don’t know when…Jesus, ’88, maybe. But I enjoy them very much. Oh, and we shared a dressing room with The Descendents, that was cool.
Jack: My keepers tell me I should wrap this up, so are there any pertinent questions you want to ask? Really, ask me anything! Sexual preference, other bands I’ve gotten in fights with…knock yourselves out.
Danny: What’s your cure for the hangover, how do you cure your hangover in the morning?
Jack: Ham sandwiches.
Phil: Ham sandwiches.
Jack: Ham on rye with Russian dressing.
Jack: Yes sir.
Phil: I’ll try that.
Jack: It works. If you’re vegan, I don’t know what you’re gonna do. But that works for me.
Phil: All right, well have a great show tonight, and we’ll look forward to catching you guys in Chicago in a few days.
Jack: Yup, I’ll definitely be there. Come up and say hi, it was very nice talking to you, and I’d like to know more about you guys.
Danny: We’ll stop on by.
Jack: Be cool…oh, I remembered the wine I like best. Amarone. Amarone. That’s the best one. Very expensive. All right.