a. Character Introductions.
All ready to go to the first gig. Get in the van, scum.
XTAL CHAOS : “I’d played brass since middle school. Being the shy and retiring type, in high school they asked if anyone wanted to play the sousaphone. As I thought it would bring me out of my shell, you know, what with being the center of attention in the marching band, I readily volunteered.
If I didn’t have to go to Manhattan, then I was happy. If I had to go to Manhattan, then I preferred not to go above 14th Street….Williamsburg had not hit big yet. I split a 1950s apt. on Skillman with a roommate– we paid $550 for the whole place. Sweetwater Tavern, of course… Cafe 612 when it still existed on Metropolitan. I liked all the little illegal dance clubs below Houston. I had a few big parties at my place… and often people were hanging out there. In the band, we tended to hang out at Hollingsworth’s or at Sweetwater.
My friendships with folks– Pete-Jack and I have remained friends… a couple of others are still friends with me through the world of social media.
[you, yes you. click here for more literary adventure…]“
SUE KOVACS : Howdy! Susanne Del-Ray Kovacs. I sang a bit,
sometimes played rumba shakers and tambourine. ( I was advised not to give Sue anything sharp during the course of her interview.-Giant Cat.)
SCOTT HOLLINGSWORTH: “I have a lot of older brothers. When i was around 5 or 6 I used to go hang out in the barn behind my house where my brother Gary rehearsed with his band. I was seduced by the scene then- The volume of the music, the girls who congragated there, and the smell of the hand rolled cigarettes they passed around. I asked my mother for guitar lessons.”
KIKA VON KLUCK : “Kika von Kluck was born in Brazil under the name of Vaneska. My parents were artisans, musicians, circus performers, etc. My grandparents who were exactly the opposite raised me. Arrived in New York in 1992 where I felt at home for the first time. I came here to live art and breathe freedom of being.”
STEVE POLIER: “Hello to you. My name is Stephen Polier and I was the original Saxophone player for The World Inferno Friendship Society. I played with them for about 2 and a half years. (1995-1998?)”
CHRIS LEO: “In 6th grade they were starting a band at my school. The band leader went through the pros and cons of every instrument to an assembly in the auditorium. He said, ‘well…the trombone is a very unpopular instrument’. I chose trombone.”
“I was actually always still playing when I began with World Inferno. I lived that instrument. I forced it into some Native Nod songs — one we even recorded for the Vermiform “Fear of Smell” comp. For awhile I was even playing trombone in a Filipino hip hop group! I still have 2 trombones. I’ve sold and bought a million guitars over the years, but I can’t get rid of those trombones for some reason.”
DAVE DeMAR: ” I played mallet instruments, banjo, and percussion. I started playing percussion and mallets in high school, and picked up the banjo for the Inferno. “
I did a US tour and a lot of short trips down the east cost and around the tri-state area. Yeah, it was like herding cats. We traveled in two to three vehicles. A van and a car or two. There were (and probably still are) a lot of big personalities. It made things interesting. People would just split up into little groups. The whole band didn’t hang out together too much, really just on stage and for load-in/load-out.
LAUREN BLACK: “That question makes me feel like Alice in Wonderland. “Who are you?” I am picturing you sitting on a giant mushroom smoking a hooka. The simple answer is Lauren Black, former trumpet player in the World Inferno.”
SEMRA ERCIN: “My name is Semra and I played percussion. Timbales, bells, and I sang some background vocals
I started playing drums when I was 16 but I quit instantly. And then much later I picked it up again at 21 and started playing with some friends. I was terrible and had to decide if I was going to keep doing it. I had to decide if I was going to commit and take lessons, try to be good, or if I was going to quit. So I took some lessons and I did it from then on. I eventually even went to school for drums for a little bit.”
Fanny Schmidt: German born immigrant that found herself in New Jersey in the late 80’s through mid-nineties. I was never an actual member but its nice to think I was in a gang. We didn’t look as cool as the gangs in The Warriors, although, a lot of that vibe was there.
Jeff Wengrofsky : I helped Peter score an apartment in my building. At the time, he was dodging having to pay his portion of a phone bill with an ex-roomie. A bit ugly, that. He and I then lived as neighbors for about two years. The craziest time we had was when we got dosed at The Clit Club’s Taste of Latex Party. I offered to buy him and drink and approached the bar with a $20 bill that vanished when the bartender came to serve us. Oddly, the bartender decided to buy each of us a drink – from which we were completely trashed for the rest of the night. At the time, I was sharing a tiny tenement apartment with a dude, his friend from a mental institution, and her girlfriend who had 18 personalities, including one referred to as “Silent Killer.” And I had no door on my room. Peter ended up puking that night and I slept with my clothes on, fearful that the crazy people would molest me in my sleep.
Miz Margo :
I went to a couple of s&s shows like with the Bouncing Souls at a community college in New Jersey. A couple of night clubs in NJ. I moved to New York in ’92. My friend needed a roommate and I moved in. It was right upstairs from Reconstruction Records.
I later toured with them in Germany and in Europe as their merch girl.
MASHA ALOVERT: http://www.girlmark.com
Roga Quraishi: “…and an acquaintance of mine played rubab on the Bridgewater Astral League…”-crystal chaos.
Oh, and years ago, the person that filled in after I left did not play French Horn, but Baritone–Sondra York– she used to bartend at the Knitting Factory in NYC for quite a few years during the 1990s…..
SANDRA OGLETHORPE: “I ‘m Sandra Ogelthorpe and I played tuba or sometimes alto horn. I worked in the music industry for awhile. I’m a jazz fan, I love brass, and I love anything in the tuba family ranging from the biggest tuba on up to the ufonium. So when I started working at PSpo1 I got one and then learned how to play it with insanely talented tuba players. On a basic level, whenever there are brass instruments in bands it means that Sandra is happy.
I think it took longer for me to get back to you about this interview than I was actually in the band…
I used to work at the old Knitting Factory when it was on Houston. Michael Dorf and Bob Appel were friends from Milwaukee [that] moved to New York and were trying to promote their rock band. Mike Dorf’s dad was some sort of distributer of tea and snacks so he thought ‘well I should start a venue! We can serve tea and have snacks!”. John Zorn and Wayne Horvitz were also hanging around at the time looking for a venue to play in and so this scene sort of landed in their lap.
When I walked in there for the first time in like 1986 or 1987 I thought to myself : “I am in the center of the universe”. Plywood tables, a totally inept grassroots organization trying to run a bar and venue, and just the greatest music. When I worked there people would be calling thinking it was some kind of non-profit but no, we were selling Rolling Rocks right when the doors opened. It was a great time to work there, I heard some great music. It was definitely the intersection between punk rock and jazz and other arty experimental type stuff.
Then I worked for Nonesuch Records. Then I had a brief stint of trying to be an independent artist manager for jazz musicians. Then I decided that it was more fun to be a fan. Then I, yknow, got day jobs. So that was my trajectory. When I stopped working in the music industry I realized that I didn’t necessarily need to live in New York. I also met my husband so we split. I’m feeling a little bit of regret here in terms of if I had stuck around longer and played more music. It would’ve been fun. I definitely appreciate my years when I worked at the Knitting Factory. I was there 7 nights a week from 9 in the morning to at least midnight. You take a lot in. But that’s when I decided I was not a musician, I really am a fan and I am happy to have the experience of participating in the World Inferno.
TONY RIOS: “Tony & I played the drums and the orchestra bells while I was in World Inferno.
I was looking for something hard to hit. I found it takes out a lot of your aggression. The very first time I played the drums was right after I broke up with a girlfriend in high school. I put a picture of her on the snare drum. Yeah… Get your aggressions out.”
JOHN MOORE: “I played baritone sax.”
“A friend of mine knew Semra and was giving me shit for not playing the saxophone at all anymore. And then I said
“where am i going to play? i dont have any place to practice? What am i going to play in a basement or whatever?” but she said “No! I have this friend shes in this bad ass band, you should check it out!”. So, sure enough, I went over to Williamsburg to the old studio/garage and sat in and played a little bit and it was fucking awesome so I stuck around.
When I was a kid I got a tiny soprano sax thats actually a curved Soprano, an old Buescher. My Grandfather had given it to me. I had originally wanted to be a trumpet player and I went into 3rd grade, tried to make the sound, and it just sucked. I could not make a sound to save my life so they were like “Ok, you need a different instrument” . So I pulled out the crusty dusty Soprano and started honking away so they “Ok, play that” . So I ended up a sax player. That was the beginning.
All throughout high school & college I was in bands, everything from ska to blues to whatever. All kinds of music. It wasn’t until the Inferno that I got to play in a fun rarity. Steve was already there kicking ass on the Tenor so I went over to Manny’s and bought this ancient monster-Bari. I don’t know if there’s a bass now, there was no bass then, so essentially I was the bass. Xtal had just left, who had been playing tuba. So I kind of became the new “tuba” slash baritone saxophone player.”
CHAD MO: ” I’m Chad Mo. Lately, I’ve just been into playing play trad jazz music, yknow, NOLA style. I recently just got into’ the directory’ in New Orleans. So if someone needs a musician, I get a call as a hired musician. This is a city people come to that need horn & violin & etc. So the workforce, if youre good – youre going to get those calls.”
Musically, if you looking at pop music at the time in England it was coming out of a really, really bland guitar hero intake. “Punk” had already come & gone by then, pretty much. Then you had all this synthesizer light romanticy kinda stuff (here, Jeff stops to briefly do his best impersonation of the average synth tune of the time. “Beep Boop Beep Doo-Doo Dah” I can’t do it proper justice). Yeah, like Joy Division, who we also played one gig with. We also knew those guys out of Manchester. So when we came out to be using the horns as the lead it was totally unheard of. Dexy’s definitely changed the face of pop music of England. No doubt about it. Then alot of other bands that came out that used horns were like the ska thing or the soul thing. The ska thing was one thing, but the soul people were like more sort of doing covers and more obvious copies than rather using it as the basis for like how Original Dexys sounded. But it did create a whole different scene. So I guess between us , the soul thing, and the whole two tone thing it was a real interesting time to be around. Yeah, it was really good time to be around.
MIKE WAGNER: “My name is Mike Wagner. I am also known as Don Bonus. I was the Grinch of Halloween this year. My
doorbell is busted so I didn’t hear any trick or treaters come to the door. Which worked out well, because I had forgotten to buy candy. I briefly saw some kids on the my way out of the house, but I ran past them, mumbling, “I don’t live here.” Bah humbug. But this was all in character (as the Grinch), you see.”
DAN BAILEY : http://www.myspace.com/grownupstexasska
DYLAN FUSILLO: “I met World Inferno through my good friend and former roommate Semra Ercin, who played percussion for the band. I played congas and some percussion on 2 songs, I believe.”
RIO GLENN: backing vocals & silly fire tricks
RYAN SANE: ” I should let you know that I was never really an official member of the band while performing with them but ever since I left I was suddenly an “ex-member”.
FRANZ: franz actually got his own online chapter; Luck & Courage (and alot in ‘rising tide’) i didn’t speak to him for 3 years and when we did, we sure blabbed a lot.
STEVE PAELET: ‘m Steve Paelet, I played bass briefly in the Inferno in the summer of ’02. I was subbing for Yula. Her US visa expired, and she had to go and stay in Israel for several months before they would renew it. But the Inferno had several shows booked that summer that they didn’t want to cancel. I was friends with Peter Hess, was a fan of the band, and had been to several shows and knew the music, so he recommended me.
Karen Correa:I am a bassist first and foremost but I studied viola forever and
that’s how I met Franz Nicolay – playing viola with Anti-Social Music.
When I first started Demander with Sivan, Inferno was looking for
someone to take on bass duties and Franz brought Jack to a show.
Apparently they decided I didn’t suck and asked me to come on board.
Gina Rodriguez: “I’m Gina Marie Rodriguez…and I played bass w/World inferno on the April 2005
Europe tour. I was enlisted when their bass
player Yula had some kind of Visa trouble.”
Kevin Rackza: I was playing in another group at the time called ‘Jollyship The Whizbang’ and my good friend Raja was playing keys with the Inferno and he recommended me
So i went in for an audition and got the gig.
KEVIN CORZETT: My name is Kevin Corzett and I played tenor sax while in The World/Inferno Friendship Society.
I started at a young age, like 10 years old or so, on clarinet. I think a few of the other World Inferno members are actually originally clarinet players as well. So I did that through high school and planned on going the conservatory track but when I was 16 or 17 I started getting more into improvised music. I had saved up for a couple years working summer jobs and I bought my first tenor. I was pretty much self taught but its similar to the clarinet so a lot of the conservatory track stuff translates. From there I pretty much started playing in rock bands in Boston. Basement shows and such. So yeah, that’s how I started playing the saxophone.
When I was 17 or 18 I started going down to New York relatively frequently to see John Zorn perform. There was also this great band called Sex Mob. Neither Zorn or Sex Mob play out much these days but 10 or 12 years ago there would be amazing shows in that kind of style at Tonic all the time, almost every weekend. So me and a friend would just hop in a car and drive down anytime there was something cool going on. At that time in the Boston scene there really wasn’t much going on besides rock music. I mean, I love rock music but I was kind of more into the aggressive improv New York Jazz stuff at that time.
Noah Leger:To be realistic, though it was so great to be part of that band (I still don’t have a word for what Inferno are- but “band” doesn’t really scratch the surface) I was not the most logical fit as a drummer. I play too damn loud and always have. Jack once called me a “big boom-boom kind of drummer”, which was a compliment but also evidence of how different my natural sense of playing differs from a guy like Ben. Ben keeps amazing time, doesn’t needlessly bash the hell out of the kit, and has a deep natural swing. Brian’s drumming is great because he has incredible dynamics and is a human fucking metronome.
Dan Neustadt: http://www.myspace.com/incadeo