The romance of the long-haul trucker is born in the dust and roar of the engine and the kerosene smell of diesel fuel. The bleary hypnosis from the engine’s roaring roadsong, the buzzy florescent refuge of the 24-hour truckstop, faded coffee rings on the driver’s daily log books, permanent grease lodged in the cracks of the hands and under the nails—they’re all part of driving tens of tons of hurtling steel and rubber down the highway to deliver the parcel and complete the wheel of commerce.
Touring these same interstates and truckstops are our nation’s hard-working bar bands. The buzz and feedback, broken strings and lost guitar picks become part of delivering anthems of drinking and lost love—often in midweek shows for half-empty dancefloors.
On the debut EP from Dubuque band Kerosene Circuit, the distorted guitars light the well-worn highway that has been traveled down before by bands like Screaming Trees, Blackfoot, Uncle Tupelo, Skynyrd and what is probably the band’s closest comparison: The Drive-By Truckers. Those bands traveled far and worked hard to bring their music to the bars and earn their place in rock history.
With lyrics that possess the wizened perspective of experience and bluesy, grungy powerchords, Kerosene Circuit delivers a new spin on this proven formula. My favorite track on the EP, “Road Test,” is the latest anthem covering the topic of touring bands most famously exemplified by Bob Seger’s “Turn the Page.” When Aaron Hefel sings “it goes on and on and on just like a wheel / with a difference you can feel when you put it on the road” he’s talking about the gamble of taking a song he wrote to the stage, but also the measure of success of a band.
The potent mix of great lyrics and muscular guitars help propel this truckload of song from Kerosene Circuit much like the blend of stimulants and fuel that propel the deliveries that keep this country moving.