Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound engineering by Mike Gentry
The songs of the Rumble Strips make a lasting living by being utterly of the moment, vivacious and expandable. They aren't grafted out of dead languages and old skeletons, but contain all of the elements of newborns, kicking and squirming and learning from the newish sounds that are coming out of their mouths. There are also the very instinctive movements, the innate mannerisms that are born into everyone right out of the gate - the eye colors and expressions that their mothers and fathers do but don't know they do. They bear the direct connections from the man or the woman and the outside world, whatever breaking that day outside the door and window. They - these songs - and the English band that loans its bloods and sweats to them appreciate the idea that all is quickly unfashionable and fleeting, that all is expendable. It is a sort of thought that can be looked at one of two ways. One is to get all downtrodden and sorrowful, wallowing in the tricky gravity that nothing matters unless many other people say it does instead of one person validating its worth. The other is to not give a sodding damn and to stick to the more constructive rationale of just doing what makes your heart content - to sing whatever you want to sing loudly, to pal around with whichever sirs and madams you'd like and to choose your glimmers of hope and light however you choose to see fit. It doesn't matter and that's all the more reason to believe that that is the quality that you're looking for. The band of childhood friends, in this session, make frequent references to the tangible and intangible concept of the song and what they'll do if one breaks out. There's a thought about the essence of the song - be it living or dead - and there's a sense that everything's already dead once it's been touched by life just a little bit. It might be a perception without any kind of anchor or a misreading, but their classic pop chops and Charlie Waller's slightly dinner-esque, crooning at the moon, ready for apology, ready for triumph, happy to be heard vocals are so comforting in a smoky bar (if there were any of those around here anymore) kind of way. This is a feeling just one sheet to the wind, where there's still enough cognitive thought and romantic vulnerability to everything he sings that it makes the song a proud capturing of exactly what it needed to at the time. These are songs about friends and relationships and the fact that people screw up, but when push comes to all that shoving and clawing, the best thing that could ever be done is to sing with what you have and with whom have you. It's better to enjoy the ride and to take that beer down and feel it pass through you every inch of the way and not be bummed that it wasn't something a little more ritzy, that it wasn't a vintage wine or a costly champagne. It's okay to be a beer person with unrefined standards of living, to believe in music and camaraderie and negligence. Waller sings, no wails, "You're not the only person to get it wrong, it's ALRIGHT," and that may as be the motto adopted for this band. No apologies. No crying. Look around you and tell us that it's really all as tragic as it's made out to be. It's simply not.