The World/Inferno Friendship Society’s New Single Celebrates Anarchy At Its Tipsiest
All the world is a stage dive, and the World/Inferno Friendship Society are here to catch you. For the past two decades and change, the Weimar circus punk collective have only furthered their primary objective: make the kind of raucous, off-kilter punk music that’s fun to mosh while wine-drunk in a suit. Now, the band — led by the honorable and dangerously charismatic Jack Terricloth — are gearing up to release their seventh full-length record, All Borders Are Porous To Cats, a swanning concept album about refugees, anarchists, and, of course, talking cats.
The band’s new single, Having A Double Life Is So Hard (But Obviously Something You Enjoy), is one of their slicker, more dance-friendly tracks. The song trades the band’s mischievous bounce for their equally-dastardly mambo rhythm, trading the hip-flask of whiskey for a jigger of rum. Nonetheless, even as he’s rumbling and crooning instead of crying out, Jack has the menace and style of a cabaret MC, and gives the track’s title the complicated romance it deserves.
We reached out to World/Inferno to learn a little about the track. We had no idea what we were in for…
Tell us about the song. What’s the story/idea behind this specific song?
Aaron Hammes, baritone sax: Well there are two answers to that question. The actual story behind the song, maybe I’ll leave to Jack, as it’s regarding a certain member of the Society. The story within the album is about a refugee whose existence is determined to be illegal by a government and he necessarily has to live one life as a criminalized person and another one as a human being. I take Double Life to be the necessary steps to protect one self from the government’s watchful eye.
Dan Bailey, baritone sax: Well, basically, it’s about sort of trying to grow and becoming a whole person. Sometimes you go through life you feel kind of like you are divided between your day job and your punk rock lifestyle.
Jack Terricloth, vocals: You know what it’s about, you sly dog, running down strange apartment steps in the morning unshaven and your shirt tails hanging out. Everyone can tell what you’ve been up to! It’s a shame to the neighborhood! This used to be a nice place to live. I never should have rented to such a blurry blue eyed strikingly handsome prematurely bald piano player from kicked out Cockney Reject stock! Thirsty bitch!
Nick Nonesuch (currently driving the van): That term might be a little problematic in 2020. I think we should look to the past for more respectful mid century addition alternatives. Like Bone-Dry Broad. Parched Pigeon. Dehydrated Dame. Or Scorched Skirt. Jack just learned the term from Gina and is really excited about it, although I don’t think he really knows what it means. Just like when I told him about how this Dehydrated Dame was trying to slide into my DM’s the other day, he asked “Your what?! Your Doc Martens!?”
JT: …and so, I wrote this song all by myself, with absolutely no help from anyone else to sort of talk about my journey to become a completely unified human being.
Also JT: That wasn’t me, that was Dan Bailey impersonating me. This isn’t me either.
Can you give us further insight into the Cat In The Hat’s story throughout this album? Who’s he fleeing from?
DB: He’s obviously fleeing from his oppressor, Dr. Seuss. And the border we speak of is an imaginary construct created by Seuss himself. It’s not really any geographical region that you can think of, it’s more of like a psychic border.
JT: You know that The Cat In The Hat is an undocumented alien who has moved into your house, you stupid goldfish! Why are you bothering me during the daytime? Put your bowl in the freezer I will.
Matt Dallow, accordion, keyboards, theremin: A potential copyright infringement and cease & desist order?
Mr. Getts (Jack’s bodyguard): It’s definitely not that same Cat in the Hat. Ours is a different Cat wearing a different hat. I think he’s more like the Cat from Master and Margarita. He’s the Devil’s sidekick that gets in all kinds of trouble. He’s a troubled and funny guy that drinks vodka and is full of mischief. The English translators are full of shit, they don’t know what they are talking about! When we read it in Russian, the Cat’s name is “Hippopotamus” The way they translate his name in English is “Behemoth” but if you translate it in Russian, The Cat’s name is Hippo. I don’t know why, but that’s what it is. It can’t be the same Cat, though, because he doesn’t wear a hat in the book. Different cat, but probably related.
AH: He is not the Cat from either of those books, so all trademarks can be in place. In fact, he is not a cat at all, but a man named Cat. His actual name might be Kosh, which is short for Koshka. He’s a man who has feline-like fur, who does sing the blues, and who does wear a hat. Who he’s fleeing from is ultimately both the American government and Quasi Police State for criminalized and undocumented folks in this country. He was part of some shadowy revolutionary group far overseas that attempted a coup, a radical overthrow of the government whereever he comes from. So Cat, on one end, is fleeing oppression as a revolutionary and trying to make things safer for other radicals, anarchists, miscreants, and undocumented people here.
NN: He might be a shared hallucination, so if you come to enough shows you might meet him (plug upcoming U.S. tour date information).
AH: The story of both Double Life and The Cat in the Hat are tied together with interstitial material in the accompanying One Smashed Window for Every Divided Soul book. So if you want to know more about who Cat is and what he is fleeing from, pick up the book along with the record. One Smashed Window combines the story of the last Inferno tour with the previous line up that recorded on the album and it transitions into the release of the new record and the adventures forward.
Above: Mr. Terricloth perfoming with the Society at Punk Rock Bowling 2019. Photo by Morat.
Right now, it feels like all of culture and the media are these outlandish circuses. As the king of outlandish circus bands, how does it feel to exist and make music in 2020?
JT: It feels really good now that I have sort of embraced and abandoned the concept of trying to be punk rock and started doing this more, like, trip-hop thing mixed with 90’s grunge, which has always been my greatest love musically. So it’s sort of like trip-hop grunge, which is really what I think will be the next wave forward.
The REAL JT: Okay, that wasn’t me. That was Dan Bailey posing as me, AGAIN. He’s now cut off. They’re all cut off. My real answer: When the going gets weird, the weird go pro. Heads down, boys, and see you when it’s over. I was speaking to an older artist friend of mine, Robert Holden, the other day, and he was agreeing with you that the times are crazy. I took a pause and asked “Didn’t you grow up in the ‘60s? Didn’t they kill presidents and civil rights leaders like every other week? This is crazier?” No one has been killed yet.” Bob did not reply.
Your albums often have a theatrical concept like this one — the Bridgewater Astral League, the eternal party, etc. Have you ever considered staging or scripting them? Do they all exist in one world?
JT: Do they all exist in one world! I hadn’t thought of that! Does the teenage carjacking gang from Astral League worship Peter Lorre while living in Just The Best Party thrown by a giant talking cat with red eyes from crying at a packed funeral? I like the way you think, agree with you, and would like to subscribe to your newsletter.
They all are pretty much more or less based on true stories. Yeah, I’ve thought about scripting them and turning them into films. I think in 2020 I would like to start to make a full length feature film based on every album or chop it up and release a film a month. And you can quote me on that. Any fans out there want to work on this with me? I literally have nothing else on my plate once we come back from tour in February. Get in touch.
You’re about to head out on a US tour — is there a city in America that you feel really gets the W/IFS?
JT: The only person who really, really, gets us down to the nitty nitty gritty is the deadly Rose from Reading PA and she don’t go to shows no more.
As far as an American city that gets us? Birmingham, Alabama. Why? Because there was this one night in 2018 where we played Super Bowl Sunday at a bar called The Nick. Our manager tried warning us not to play Super Bowl Sunday in the South but we had to. Being punk rockers who have all been bullied by jocks, we had to make a point that the Super Bowl was not going to force us to have a day off. So the good folks at The Nick let us play. One single fan showed up. She drove from Tennessee. And y’know, that really said it all. Then, of course, we were accused of being undercover F.B.I. agents, which I think spooked her, so she told us that she suddenly had to leave before our set was going to start. Before she drove off, we said we would play one song for her.
Technically, we weren’t allowed to start playing until after the Super Bowl ended because everyone else was there to see the Bowl. So we went rogue. We asked her what her favorite song was (Cats Are Not Lucky Creatures) and during a commercial break we jumped on stage and played it. The second we were done, she had to run out the door. We played an hour later to a small crowd who had never heard us. We made a lot of friends that night and they made Birmingham feel like a second home to us, and now I have to say that I love that town.
Shout out to Mom’s Basement, shout out to Queen’s Park, shout out to West Frasier making photos, shout out to Will Stewart. Shout out to Food & Wine Magazine. Shout out to The Nick, Saturn Bar, Man or Astroman?, and the legendary club The BottleTree. Our former Bari Sax Player (he quit that job 15 years ago) and co-interviewee (which he was quickly fired from earlier) Dan Bailey now resides there and he is sort of our Birmingham ambassador. He acts as our liaison to whats hip. Denton Texas. The Growns Ups. The Good Bad/Art Collective. Maybe you have heard of him? He used to set all the clubs in NYC on fire back around the turn of the century. I wonder what trouble he is getting himself into these days?
AH: Chicago. When we tour, what place has a more rabid, excited sort of dialed in sense of this band? To me, that’s the one.
DB: Last bit of advice. Start a band. Call it The World/Inferno Friendship Society and go on tour. Do it completely separate from us. We will not sue you. The name needs to live on.
Listen to our exclusive stream of Having A Double Life Is So Hard (But Obviously Something You Enjoy) below:
The World/Inferno Friendship Society’s new album, All Borders Are Porous To Cats, comes out January 17 via Alternative Tentacles, and is available for preorder.
Catch the band live at one of their upcoming dates:
10 Lola’s Trailerpark, Ft Worth, TX
11 Dada, Dallas, TX
12 The Mohawk, Austin, TX
13 Secret Group, Houston, TX
14 Santos, New Orleans, LA
16 Will’s Pub, Orlando, FL
17 Propaganda, West Palm Beach, FL
18 Las Rosas, Miami, FL
19 Archetype, Jacksonville, FL
20 Bombs Away, Athens, GA
21 The Earl, Atlanta, GA
22 Local 506, Raleigh, NC
23 Gallery 5, Richmond, VA
24 The Ottobar, Baltimore, MD
25 Boot & Saddle, Philadelphia, PA
06 Rickshaw Theater, Vancouver, BC*
07 Highline Theater, Seattle, WA*
08 Jazzbones, Tacoma, WA*
09 Dante’s, Portland, OR*
10 Gold Fields, Sacramento, CA*
11 Metro, Oakland, CA*
12 TBA, Los Angeles, CA*
13 Alex’s Bar, Long Beach, CA*
14 Club Red, Mesa, AZ*
15 Launchpad, Albuquerque, NM*
16 Blue Bird, Denver, CO*
17 Black Sheep, Colorado Springs, CO*
*w/ Bridge City Sinners