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Towering Inferno

An Interview with Brian Viglione and Jack Terricloth of World/Inferno Friendship Society


Published October 29, 2008 at 5:54 a.m.

World/Inferno Friendship Society
  • World/Inferno Friendship Society

Some interviews are pretty straightforward. Question. Answer. Repeat as necessary. Others take a more circuitous route, but still resolve at a discernible point. And then there are interviews like this one with Brian Viglione and — unexpectedly — Jack Terricloth of the Brooklyn-based “punk-rock orchestra,” World/Inferno Friendship Society.

Viglione is a relatively new member of the group and is better known for his work with Boston’s famed — and currently hiatused — punk cabaret The Dresden Dolls. Reunion plans? “Don’t hold your breath,” he says.

Terricloth is World/Inferno’s deviously enigmatic front man. Equal parts sideshow barker and Shane McGowan-esque poetic rogue, he holds court over the high-octane eight-piece punk carnival with sinister aplomb. Oh, and he also maintains an advice column on the band’s website, cheekily titled “What Would Jack Do?” Really.

In a recent phone conversation to preview their upcoming Higher Ground performance, Seven Days spoke with both members of the band, en route to Atlanta. The conversation ranged from the energy of the group’s live show to . . . well, we’re still not sure.

SEVEN DAYS: Could you describe the World/Inferno concert experience?

BRIAN VIGLIONE: The energy of the shows is nothing like I’ve seen before. I mean, sure, they’re punk-rock shows. But the environment, the energy is just really fun. And the music is so much more than just your three-chord rock. And the people are just totally whacked out and wonderful.

Expect the unexpected. Musically, it ranges through everything. It’s like a mash-up of Count Basie, The Ramones, The Pogues and Wilson Pickett, kind of all out on a date together. And people dressed in their best clothes going totally bananas.

SD: Tell me a bit about Jack Terricloth. He seems like quite a character.

BV: Yes, indeed. He’s actually right here if you’d like to say hello.

SD: Um . . . sure!

JACK TERRICLOTH: Hello. My name is Jack.

SD: Hey, Jack. My name is Dan. How are you?

JT: I’m all right. I’m living in a minivan.

SD: How is that going?

JT: I’m just too tall for this job, I think.

SD: I see . . . um, I was wondering if you could tell me about the advice column. How did that idea arise?

JT: I’m just trying to be more interactive with people. Why should Jesus get all the attention?

SD: That’s a fair question. But how did it start? Are there more questions coming?

JT: There are a lot more questions coming. I was hoping to have another edition out for Halloween, and I still might. You never can tell. My hard drive died and I never got around to re-buying Word. So I have to spell-check it personally. Or maybe I’ll just send it to you and you could spell-check it.

SD: Well . . . I’m kinda busy, actually. I’d be happy to hear some of the questions you’re working on, though.

JT: Oh, sure! Lessee . . . (opening his laptop). Here’s a typical one: “Dear Jack. If you don’t mind my saying, I’ve noticed that you usually duck out of whatever club you’re playing and find a quiet place to tipple. Do you have a favorite bar?”

This one comes up a lot. And my answer is, “Any place without large-screen TVs. But since you asked, the lounge at Newark International Airport Terminal B. I even have a favorite stool. At airport bars you can tell the most outrageous lies and almost never get caught.”

SD: I like that. Gimme another one.

JT: “Dear Jack. Why is it that when enjoying tobacco products with two or more friends, we shouldn’t light three on a match?” To which I answered, “It turns out that was just made up by someone to sell more matches. But since matches are now mostly free, don’t worry about it.”

SD: I thought it had something to do with night patrols in Vietnam, but . . .

JT: Here’s a more existential one about a woman who died from lingering dread. Um . . . I told her not to worry about it.

SD: Whoops. Maybe we should switch gears. I just asked Brian how he would describe your music, since many of our readers are likely unfamiliar with your shows. But I’ll ask you, too.

JT: Oh, that’s funny. It was actually my next question.

SD: Weird . . .

JT: I make up a new description every day. This week is “the jazz of robbery.” But that probably doesn’t help you much. We’re the intellectual elite you read about in conservative papers.

SD: I knew it!

JT: Just put “punk-rock orchestra.”

SD: Done and done.