World/Inferno Friendship Society is many things — namely a suit-wearing, horn-playing, trouble-advocating, theater-referencing 10-plus-member collective fronted by the quip-happy Jack Terricloth. Its live shows are a mix of anarchy and Chicago, its presence a match of swagger and style.
What it is not, though, is modest. But nothing influenced by circus music and punk rock is. "Nobody wants to write a classic rock song. That kinda stuff is dull," muses Terricloth.
Now in its 10th year, WIFS is taking grandeur to a new level with its latest disc, Addicted to Bad Ideas: Peter Lorre's 20th Century. The 11-track album is as sensational as bad-boy actor Peter Lorre himself. Here WIFS doesn't progress as much as it does expand: There are big brass sounds, fanciful rhetoric, and a chunky blend of instruments and influences. The first track, "Peter Lorre's Overture," begins as a haunting instrumental that escalates into shouting polka rock, while the angsty "'M' Is for Morphine" ebbs and flows with dramatic piano backed by textured guitar work. As if the album weren't grandiose enough, it's slated for release September 11.
"It's really just a coincidence. Actually that's the worst answer. Let's try that again: Um, because lightning never strikes twice? It's like The World According to Garp — the house is now disaster-proof," says Terricloth. If that theory holds, his internal organs should remain intact during the band's current tour with the Subhumans. On WIFS's 2006 romp with Leftover Crack, Terricloth's appendix was punctured during a friendly machete fight with that band's singer, Sturgeon, and had to be removed.
But don't expect WIFS to tone down its performance. The gang has a knack for riling up crowds, like the one that allegedly caused thousands of dollars in damage to Coney Island venue Cha Cha's this past July 28. Terricloth's response to the club owner's request to calm the crowd was to break out into "Zen and the Art of Breaking Everything in the Room." The disorderly audience was then forced out of the club, where it performed an impromptu rendition of "Only Anarchists Are Pretty," until the cops broke it up.
"Someday we'll be dignified and old together. Actually I'm not looking forward to being dignified," Terricloth says. "I probably will be a crazy old dingbat, the guy at the end of the bar yelling."