WACO vs The Jersey Devil

New Jersey folklore crossed the Atlantic and inspired a wild U.K. punk rock band.

Sleepless nights spent exploring paranormal mysteries led WACO to the Jersey Devil, the mythical creature said to haunt New Jersey’s Pine Barrens.

Like the Jersey Devil, WACO isn’t afraid to wreak havoc. “I guess that inside of each of us we had an animalistic compulsion to make noise—like caged demons, we were screaming to be freed,” frontman Jak Hutchcraft tells BTRtoday.

Mixing classic rock ‘n’ roll and gritty garage punk rock, WACO create crazy catchy melodies about embracing making mistakes in your twenties, drugs, love and partying.

The band took their name from the disastrous 1993 government siege of the Branch Davidians’ Waco, TX compound. “We think it’s healthy to question and distrust governments, corporations and institutions,” Hutchcraft says. “If people Google ‘WACO’ in search of our band and they find information about the siege instead, then we’re happy.”

Recently, WACO released the first single off their upcoming debut LP Human Magic, coming out early next year. Read the entire interview with WACO’s Jak Hutchcraft below.

WACO, “Jersey Devil”

BTRtoday (BTR): I didn’t realize the Jersey Devil was known anywhere other than in NJ and its surrounding states. As someone who has camped in the Pine Barrens and heard many a scary campfire stories of the Jersey Devil, where’d you hear about this creature/ why’d you name this song after this Jersey folklore?

Jak Hutchcraft (JH): Wow, I’d love to camp out at the Pine Barrens if I’m ever in New Jersey, it looks beautiful. Wild camping in forests and on riversides was a big part of my life growing up. I first read of the Jersey Devil while journeying into cryptozoology during sleepless nights. I then learned more about the beast by speaking to NJ’s own Sargel18 aka The Sergeant Of Light 18. He enlightened me about an inter-dimensional vortex that he discovered in Wanaque, NJ, as well as governmental cover-ups, demonic possession and alien life forms. You can read our conversation here and listen to it here.

Also, Tom [guitar] and Welshy [drums] from our band are from the original Jersey, which is a British island off the coast of France and our nickname for Tom is the Jersey Devil.

BTR: I see, you guys also use the term “cosmic punk” a lot, and I love the sound of that—what does it mean to you?

JH: We love the spirit of punk and the rebellion, irreverence, empowerment and excitement that comes along with it. We’re also greatly interested in matters that are beyond our earth, beyond this material realm and beyond scientific doctrines. [Cosmic Punk is] any idea that questions and challenges what we’ve been taught as fact. We’re interested in peering behind the curtain of this reality and seeing what we find.

BTR: Did you guys grow up listening to punk? What in life do you think pushed you towards embracing punk music and starting a band like WACO?

JH: We grew up on a rich mix of punk, hardcore, prog, metal and classic rock. I guess that inside of each of us we had an animalistic compulsion to make noise. Like caged demons we were screaming to be freed. WACO provides that freedom for us to be dramatic and loud.

BTR: Let’s talk about Human Magic, what kind of inspirations went into the creation of the album? Any real life stories that inspired it?

JH: Humans have got a real magic inside of them, I know because I see it everyday. Resilience, creativity, kindness and community are all made of magic—art and nature too. I know the human condition can be complex, but that’s what makes it so special. Life can be mystical, difficult and wonderful all at once, and we try to acknowledge that on Human Magic.

BTR: How does it feel to finally be getting your debut full-length out there? Any reactions you hope listeners will have?

JH: It’s a lifelong dream come true. We’re so unabashedly happy with it. I hope listeners will learn about some different elements to us when they hear Human Magic, as we really pushed ourselves and embraced our eccentricities. We’ve explored some new musical frontiers on the record, but I feel we’re very much rooted in our weird version of punk rock that fans will already know.

BTR: Does WACO stand for something or are you referencing the siege in Texas?

JH: Yes, we decided to name our project WACO after the 51-day siege that took place at Mount Carmel in Waco, TX in 1993. During the assault, the U.S. military—along with American federal and Texas state police—massacred 82 members of a religious group called The Branch Davidians. Despite it being illegal and children being amongst the dead, nobody was ever charged for the murders.

BTR: Why did you name the band that?

JH: We think it’s healthy to question and distrust governments, corporations and institutions. In fact, we think it’s healthy to question everything. The way we see it, if people Google ‘WACO’ in search of our band and they find information about the siege instead, then we’re happy. Also, it means that when we’re asked about our band name we can ignite this very conversation and can hopefully inspire ourselves and others to share thoughts, debate, listen, lament and learn.

BTR: What should we be keeping an eye out for in the future of WACO?

JH: Our debut album, Human Magic, comes out in 2019. We’ve already been booked onto some UK festivals for next summer and we’ll definitely get out there and tour. Before then, though, we have some more music, visuals and high-weirdness to share with you all in the coming months. Watch the skies.