Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Mike Gentry
Twenty years ago, when "Rubberneck" was released, much of what Toadies lead singer Vaden Todd Lewis wrote and sang was terrifying. It still is. The album is baked by a blood moon. It's filled with freaks and dirty secrets. The characters that Lewis made exist here are the kinds of people that you should never turn your back on for their smiles and any generosity that they might exhibit are purely for show and the second you've talked yourself out of believing it, you're screwed. These characters are hustlers and scamps, but damn if they don't have some of the characteristics of romantics too. And that's where they get you. They'll lure you anywhere they want you with a sweetened, dark charm that will make you purr until you're choking for air.
The heaviness of these love stories -- and most of them are love stories -- comes from the pregnant evenings in which they all formulate. You can smell the danger in the breeze and Lewis feeds into it. He dines on the dual nature of sin. Most sinning is saturated by pleasure -- all kinds of naughty pleasure -- and it's never lost in the ringing and pounding vibrations and tendrils of "Rubberneck." These people remind me of the people in Frank Bill's wonderfully graphic and rustic book, "Crimes In Southern Indiana," for their willing desperation and for their beautiful realities that are all their own. They cannot be judged for their situations or their interpretations of them. They must get by on the love they have, or the love they take. They must deal with the temptations that bear hug them. They must swing wildly to shoo away the tension that builds around them like a hot fog. They must bury the bodies. They must survive.