Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Mike Gentry
There's a part of Kansas right now, during this first week in July 2012, that's been as similar to hell as it's ever been. Daytime temperatures have been topping out in the high 110s and that's not good for anyone. The way that people are feeling - without much of a reprieve from any of the sweltering horribleness, from any of the draining heat and its consequences - is a theme for Wichita's Split Lip Rayfield's music and it has been for close to 20 years, since the band started in 1995. Somehow the group epitomizes the weariness of the common laborers, the farmers, the mechanics, those trying to make their marriages work, those wishing they'd never tied the knot and those who just can't wait for something better to come along.
These are folks who are sweating it out there in the middle of the Heartland, where voices and fighting words carry on for hundreds of miles before they hit anything and die. They are people praying for rain and still picking up the pieces after the last twister swept through and wiped them all out. These are people who have been fleeced many-a-time and they are people who still find the energy to suck it up and become as whole as they possibly can once again because they know that there are few options for living otherwise. You'd never know the pains that have set in for these people because they're able to sweep a lot of it away with humor and casual ribbing. They're able to properly say, "Fuck it," and actually pull it off, actually move the hell on, likely to another challenging day where the ends just barely meet.
When the Split Lip Rayfield boys sing, "Some folks don't like a goddamn thing/It's all the same," they mean it simply as the way it is. It's hardly good or bad, just normal. People are taking black eyes and bruises all over the place. They're sleeping around. They're causing trouble. They're doing dumb things. They're doing good things and raising mindful little boys and girls. It all gets caught in a dirty web sometime, when everything feels good AND hurts. There are blessings and curses and sometimes they're hard to discern.