Sloppy Seconds With Truck Stop Love

Remember a few months ago

when it was revealed that Texas senator

and prez-wannabe Phil Gramm was allegedly "impressed" by a skin

flick entitled Truck Stop Women? That must have been a little

embarrassing for ol' Phil. But surely he was thanking his

lucky stars that his good name didn't end up associated with Kansas

country-punkers Truck Stop Love. Sporting influences from Big Star

to Buddy Holly to the Replacements, TSL's thicker-than-mud guitar

sludge and vocal grit comes out dirtier than any blue movie.

I talked to singer/guitarist Rich Yarges on the phone recently. He was

relaxing at his Kansas home during a rare tour break. First order of business

was to find out what's up with the name. Truck Stop Love? "Some guy who was

in the band when we first

started came up with it," said Yarges, using a time-tested ploy to avoid any

responsibility for the name. "Right before the semester ended we played

our first show, then he went home for Christmas vacation and never

came back. Funny thing, when we did our CD release party, at the

same time there was this big headline in Salinas that said Truck

Stop Love, and it was about hookers in truck stops."

Truck Stop Love's debut LP, How I Spent My Summer Vacation, was

issued by Scotti Bros. Records earlier this year, and the band has

been touring almost non-stop ever since. Last week they headed to the

Northeast

after covering the West in the last couple of months.

The album's playful title track, which slams into being with a

guitar frenzy before cooling off with the harmonious lyric, "Sangria...with

wine and tequila." The song was based on a true story. Only the names were

changed to protect the innocent. "It was

inspired by Brad's (bassist Brad Huhmann) summer vacation last summer,"

admitted Yarges. "His girlfriend was out of town, and we had a show in Des

Moines that got canceled, and a few of us were over at Brad's house

drinking. But we didn't tell our girlfriends or anyone that we weren't in

Des Moines. Brad had this weird experience with this girl who ended up

getting a DUI, and he wrote the song about it."

Yarges is a recent graduate of Kansas

State (his degree's in anthropology). But he speaks and sings like a

guy who's been on the road for decades. The band met up at KSU and

quickly hooked up with Scotti Bros. through a contact drummer Eric

Melin happened to make while working at the campus radio station.

Their booking agent later suggested that the band contribute a song

to a Tom Petty tribute album he was putting together. The album,

You Got Lucky, featured twelve Petty covers by underground and

unsigned bands, and helped to launch the career of Everclear. Truck Stop Love

covered "Listen To Her Heart."

That recording, like the rest of TSL's studio work, is deliciously sloppy.

Yarges knows it. "When we did our EP [prior to the album] I didn't like

working in the

studio. We had a producer that was very professional, and it just

wasn't our style."

Thank goodness for that. TSL, in their lo-fi glory, are twisting

old-fashioned countrified rock every way they know how. When it

works, it's dazzling, and when it doesn't, who cares? [Editor's note: Speak

for yourself.] It's always

a concoction so savory, even Phil Gramm would approve. Maybe.