World/Inferno Friendship Society: “Dress for the occasion!”

World/Inferno Friendship Society: Die Europa-Tournee der Gang um Sänger Jack Terricloth hat begonnen.Thomas Kaestle hat den Frontmann der hedonistischen Vaudeville-Punk-Truppe interviewt.

World/Inferno Friendship Society: Mehr Gang als Band. Die Europa-Tournee der Truppe um Sänger Jack Terricloth hat begonnen. Gerade noch auf dem Fusion Festival, am Dienstag in Bremen, danach unter anderem in Hamburg, Berlin, Hannover, Leipzig, Göttingen und Nürnberg

Eingängig und verschroben stehen nicht immer im Widerspruch. “Ich erinnere mich an die Weimarer Republik” heißt einer ihrer Songs, veröffentlicht auf einem Konzeptalbum über den Schauspieler Peter Lorre. In einem anderen fordern sie: “Canonize Philip K. Dick, OK?“ Und vermutlich sind sie für alle Zeiten “Addicted to Bad Ideas“. Die Band World/Inferno Friedship Society aus Brooklyn verbindet musikalische Einflüsse aus Punk, Musical, Soul, Folk, Rock’n Roll und Swing – irgendwo zwischen Kurt Weill und Gogol Bordello. Sie ist legendär dafür, ihre Bühnenshows als ausschweifende Partys zu feiern. Zu Beginn der Deutschland-Konzerte unterhielt sich Thomas Kaestle mit dem charismatischen Frontmann Jack Terricloth über Anarchie, Hedonismus und Ernst Thälmann. (Und auch ein bisschen über Hannover, wo der Interviewer die Band am 3. Juli im Café Glocksee sehen wird.)

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You tend to call yourself rather a gang as a band. What are the differences?
Way to ask the most boring question first! Let’s get more esoteric first.

Alright: You celebrate anarchy and hedonism both in your lyrics and shows. Do they connect?
Insomuch that I am both an anarchist and a hedonist.

Do you have to be an anarchist to be a good hedonist? Or vice versa?
No not at all! I’ve known some people with very social darwinist views who were wonderful hedonists. And as anyone who’s ever sat through being paid at Gilman Street (a club in Berkeley California where the bands and, yes, the collective sit down and discuss the breakdown of the door money) knows there are some dreadfully dull anarchists.

Back to the differences between a band and a gang…
A band is a group of four or five mostly men hitting guitars and complaining about their lot in life and are generally no fun to be around unless you are praising them. Now a gang or a Society, they’re a large group of men and women of all ages and backgrounds working together to forward and shape a lifestyle and can talk to you about any number of subjects, not just music. I am a singer in the musical arm of the Society.

So what is the other arm?
Inferno does have several branches. There’s the circus branch which plays the shows, the production branch which writes the songs, The technical branch which runs the websites, the artist group who handles posters and what not. It takes a village.

Did your way of working change with your experiences over the years?
There was a time a very long time ago when I seemed to have some control over what went on. But that changed very early on, during our first European tour back in 1997 I think. Now, like any Society, our direction is determined by under currents, game theory and spooky action in the distance.

Is your music driven by some political attitude?
We follow an utopian dogma of permanent revolution.

In what ways is it possible and/or necessary to act politically in the 2015 US?
The part about being subversive is that you are political walking down the street. And we are winning.

After all you sometimes seem to be quite European in your attitudes…
I’ll take that as a compliment but I am a free born man of the U. S. of A.

What is it about your fascination with pre war Europe and especially Germany (namely the Weimarer Republik)?
As you know I pursue a world of endless possibility and mid century Europe was a place where literally anything could have happened. That the worst possible thing did happen sucks but really it could have gone in any direction before you all elected Hitler in a democratic election. We elected Roosevelt. Just saying. But just because i have an affinity for the times and the place doesn’t make it fair for me to judge people’s actions in a crisis, sexy though that crisis was.

What would have been the most desirable alternative direction?
That is a big question and while I do enjoy speculative fiction I’m sure I am not qualified to answer it definitively. At the risk of being flippant I’ll go with “Ernst Thälmann in ’32”.

What could have become of Europe and the world if other powers succeeded?
If The KPD had won and not Hindenburg? East Germany would have extended to The Atlantic. Boring, but less people might have died. On the plus side Bertolt Brecht would have been a pop star.

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Are anarchy and hedonism possible aspects of a society’s structure or are they always in the opposition, on the streets, fleeting?
As I live and breathe they’re possible! But as you say; on the periphery, off the grid. You are probably familiar with Hakim Bey‘s concept of Temporary Autonomous Zones? To quote: “A new territory of the moment is created that is on the boundary line of established regions. Any attempt at permanence that goes beyond the moment deteriorates to a structured system that inevitably stifles individual creativity. It is this chance at creativity that is real empowerment.” That basically means squats and parties.

What do you like about today’s Europe and Germany?
I’ve always been very comfortable in Europe, was there a lot when I was a kid. Having travelled so much I am used to not understanding whats going on most of the time. plus between the 13 of whatever members of the Inferno chances are one of us will speak the language of where ever we are.

About touring over here?
I remember when we we did a U.S. tour with The Robocop Kraus, a band from Nürnberg, after we had toured Europe with them and saying to them: “This is not like touring the Continent, you will not be fed, you will not be put up, people will not be nice to you. You will get one drink ticket, play and then told to get the fuck out.” They said “Ja, ja, we know”,  but when they got here they were still shocked. It is much more civilized to tour europe.

Is it different to play gigs here?
The crowds are older for some reason in Europe. Which is to say my age. While in the states we play to mostly teenagers. Not sure what that means.

What are your memories of former Hannover gigs?
I’ve been playing Hannover almost once a year since like 1993! Been to the hospital there when my face caught a beer bottle, got in a fight with local band Muff Potter at Kornstraße though I cannot remember what about (and I bet they can’t either). Did acoustic shows there on my book tour. Chaostage!

What happened when you got on stage on 9/11 2001 in UJZ Korn?
More like what happened when we arrived that morning. The staff just pointed at the television and I thought they were watching a Bruce Willis film. Exploding buildings, where’s batman?

What were your feelings to play a show in Germany right after hearing the news from your home town?
Everyone’s first instinct was to get home as soon as possible. When it became apparent that no planes were flying anywhere we were determined to play the show.

Did you consider to cancel it?
No, after it became clear that no flight to New York would be happening for a week or two we started to refer to ourselves as “Die World /Inferno Friendship Society aus Hannover, Deutschland” and there was really no reason to be alive other than playing. It is interesting to note the club did want to cancel the show and we insisted on playing. Clubs all that week wanted to cancel shows either due to fear to being targeted for having an american band play or out of “respect for New York”. We had to deal with it everyday but we really needed to play. There is a bootleg of that night’s performance floating around. I’ve never heard it.

Are your shows Punk?
As they contain punks and slam dancing I’d say yes.

Is your music?
Punk is an attitude not a style of music.

It’s often being described as ‘Vaudeville Punk’.
I can dig that.

Your audience often attends your gigs in formal clothing – as you do yourself. What’s behind that?
Life is a special event, one should dress for the occasion.

[Das Interview entstand im Auftrag der Hannoverschen Allgemeinen Zeitung und erschien dort am 26. Juni in gekürzter und übersetzter Form.]
Anstehende Tourtermine der World/Inferno Friendship Society im deutschsprachigen Raum:

30.06. Bremen: Tower [web / facebook]
01.07. Hamburg: Hafenklang [web / facebook]
02.07. Berlin: SO36 [web / facebook]
03.07. Hannover: Café Glocksee [web / facebook]
05.07. Leipzig: Zoro [facebook]
06.07. Göttingen: T-Keller [web / facebook]
07.07. Nürnberg: Zentralcafé im K4 [web / facebook]
08.07. Wien: Chelsea [web / facebook]
09.07. Graz: Explosiv [web / facebook]
10.07. Zürich: Dynamo [web / facebook]
11.07. Esslingen: Komma [web / facebook]
12.07. Aachen: AZ [web / facebook]
17.07. Oberhausen: Druckluft [web / facebook]

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