I grew up in Bridgewater Township, New Jersey. I'd play with all the boys in the neighborhood along the creek behind our housing development, which ran into the Raritan River. One year it flooded so badly it practically decimated the neighboring town of Bound Brook, destroying one of the first venues I ever went to and the coffee shop where I played my first open mic. After the flood, that coffee shop became Hamilton Street Cafe, where my old band (The Measure) played our first show with World/Inferno Friendship Society. That's where I first met Jack Terricloth.
I didn't really know what to make of World/Inferno at the time (cabaret punk? excuse me?), but I knew they sang about the Raritan River, and I later found out that Jack grew up in Bridgewater too. Some of my friends knew him as Pete Ventantonio from the band Sticks & Stones, a by then defunct punk band I quickly grew to love through their 7"s and a compilation LP released on Chunksaah. It was all incredibly New Jersey, but I was pretty sure Pete was from another planet.
Pete's reinvention as Jack Terricloth in World/Inferno was magnetic and intimidating and gathered a cult following that expanded my world both socially and creatively. Their performances were professional chaos, as if a jazz ensemble and FEAR had a baby, fronted by a 1920's crooner. The folks you'd know in cutoff shorts and disintegrating band shirts by day would show up to the gig in a suit. That's just the world they created.
I've lost count of the number of people I met at those shows, how everyone has spread out like a web but can all be traced back to waltzing together at venues that don't exist anymore. Everyone talked about community, but World/Inferno took that vibe and shot it over the moon in a bottle of wine.
We crossed paths enough times over enough years that I think I could call him a friend. I say think because his persona and music and punk hero status made it partially unthinkable to call him a familiar, but he was always kind to me, if also a little prickly. Whatever your relationship, fan or friend, you knew you were in the presence of something special and weird and wild.
When Sticks & Stones played their first show in ten years at Asbury Lanes, The Measure got to open for them along with our friends The Ratchets. I never thought I would get the chance to see them play and I was beyond stoked. The day before the show, I got the acronym for I Won't Shut Up I Won't Go Away (lyrics from their song Saved) tattooed on my wrist as a constant reminder. I got a similar tattoo when we played with John K Samson a few years ago, if that tells you anything about the regard I have for those songs.
The last time I saw Jack perform was a few years ago in World/Inferno on a gigantic stage at The Queen in Wilmington, Delaware. I watched with an old friend from the balcony, and we both noted how amazing it was to watch them perform at such an ornate theater. It seemed so fitting.
Last night I found out that he passed away at the age of 50 - too young and it's heartbreaking. I am so thankful to have known him, to have shared a stage with him, but most importantly to have watched so many shows that are now just a total blur of sweat and good times. I'm so glad we had his music and World/Inferno for as long as we did.
Below is a playlist with some of my favorite songs. If you've never listened before, no better time than now.
Everything I do - this moment I seize
Inspire myself, I believe what I believe.
This world is in its perfect place,
with that one foot in the grave
It's always been something I've had to say...
I won't shut up
I won't go away.
-Sticks and Stones