• Sandee Caviness

Roger Clyne & The Peacemakers In The Park!


Roger Clyne
Roger Clyne // Photo by Micah Albert

Roger Clyne & The Peacemakers are in the Park this Labor Day weekend, setting Borracho Saloon’s La Capilla Stage on fire! Clyne’s iconic blend of punk-rock and country-western sound with a cool twist of mariachi influences will rock Munds Park.


The two shows are sold out, but you can catch Roger here in his interview with the Pinewood News.


I have to admit, other than listening to his music, I didn’t know the man behind the songs until I started learning some background for this interview. The incredible thing was after I read and listened to several interviews, I didn’t know if I liked the music or the man more.


So I asked Roger, I wonder if your fans love you or the music more?


Roger Well, I’m hoping there’s no difference. Music is the best part of me. If everybody knew me as I know me, I might fall a rung or two short on the ladder of approval.


Sandee I believe we can all say we are a rung or two short. I dig that you have taken your life experiences and turned them into positive listening experiences. You celebrate life and all it offers and pass that along in your songs. Your fan base loves it.


Roger I appreciate that. I am just a humble poet with a guitar. I’m very blessed and lucky to have such a reception in today’s media-rich, if not oversaturated age. A fan base receptive to our songs becomes a community with music as a catalyst. It really is an honor.


Sandee In some of your interviews, you talk romantically about the Southwest and your father’s ranch in Tucson. Is the ranch still in your family?


Roger Yes, my father is the steward of the family ranch in Tucson at present. My grandmother and grandfather purchased it in the 50s, and he’s lived on the ranch since he was a young boy. My grandparents have passed on now, but my father is still tending to the cattle.


The horses on the ranch are pretty spoiled. We just don’t use them enough. My dad is kind of the lone rancher so to speak, and he has a hard time with long days in the saddle. Our horses get used to long days not working, and they get a little sour. We’re going to get a few more head and freshen up the herd and work them longer together. We want to move them to remote places in the back by the mountains and check the fences and water lines. Drop the protein and salt and do what ranchers got to do.


Sandee Munds Park has a long history of cattle ranchers. We’re lucky we still have ranchers here, and it’s nice to see the cows out happily roaming the forest. When I see them, it takes me back in time, and I try to imagine what it may have been like as a settler.


Roger Cowboys are iconic. They are an archetype in America, and it’s cool to see them still out there, even though that lifestyle is certainly, I don’t want to say under threat, but it’s becoming less and less viable. I know a lot of cowboys and I admire them. I may not like them all, but I admire them all.


Sandee Roger, after your original band The Refreshments disbanded, you and PH decided to regroup and hike through the desert in the middle of June.

This idea of trekking through the desert is extraordinary, considering the terrain and exhausting temperatures. What inspired you?


Roger Yeah, PH and I, after the demise of The Refreshments, both decided that we were going to follow our life way through art. And so we challenged ourselves to physically and mentally seek inspiration through communion with nature.


We bonded through this experience, as traveling through difficult paths will do. We had a lot ahead of us, and we began our journey at what we call headquarters at the ranch in Tucson. We walked north around the Whetstone Mountains all the way to Benson. It took a few days to do that and it was really dry. We began in June and we should have started in May before the springs dried up. But our travel was delayed because I had broken my ribs on the last gig of The Refreshments.


We were playing in Hayden Square, and I was surfing on the monitor, tripped, and broke my ribs. When PH and I set out to hike, I put on my shoulder pack and heard a snap. There was no way I could strap on a 50-pound pack and hike for two weeks, so I took some time to heal.


Anyway, we made it from headquarters to Benson. At that time, we were going to follow the San Pedro River, which goes all the way to Mexico. Except the San Pedro had already gone underground, it still flows; we just couldn’t access the water.

So that was the length of that journey. We turned around and went back to headquarters; from there we headed out again towards Santa Rita. The experience was similar, very dry and not enough water, so we cut our journey short.


Sandee Roger, you talk a lot about keeping it honest in music, telling authentic stories that are true to you and the band. You achieve this by staying independent and writing for music’s sake, not for radio or the charts. Was it on your desert journey from the ranch where you developed this philosophy?


Roger Yes, we wanted to test our metal to see if we could take that idea and live with it by ourselves. Like how hard is this going to be? This will be a rough journey both spiritually and materially—just like the journey through the desert. A crucible by which we were going to evaluate whether we could walk away from using music as commerce.


However, the decision had honestly been made before The Refreshments broke up. Long story short, Mercury Records ran a song of ours called Good Year for Bad Days. The band didn’t want it released, and they didn’t listen to that as an artistic choice. We really didn’t want it out as a single, but they used it anyway. We thought it would flop, and it did.


It was a piece of music they asked us to write for the B-side. Like back in the day, you would write a side piece to accompany the main songs. Brian wrote that song real quick and never considered it a finished composition.


Mercury Records ran it out on the radio, and it failed. They asked us for the next song, which would have been Wanted, a song we had real confidence in. But it was time to sign a new contract, and they wanted to see how the song did before signing us for another album. But that is not how we originally signed, so I said no. They picked us up as a heritage rock and roll band, not a band to write for the charts. I wanted to be in partnership with a record label to develop artistry and community through music.


Anyway, they said if that’s your choice, we’re gonna let you go, and that choice had its ramifications. It sent tremors through the band, and that’s ultimately what split us up. So it was my choice and PH’s choice to say no to that particular condition and set us on our path to form The Peacemakers.


Sandee In one of your interviews, they noted you are often compared to Springsteen, and this interviewer wondered why you weren’t as big as Springsteen, and you said that you wondered too.


My question is, do you think your decision to stay honest with your music and not write for the charts has limited your reach?


Photo by Ash Ponders

Roger First of all, it’s quite flattering to be compared to Bruce Springsteen or even used in the same sentence in a positive manner. His career track has certainly been rich and given a lot of definition to the concept of American rock and roll.


Regarding why we’re not there, you know, we never really courted commerce through a label. We started The Peacemakers with the idea that we would work on our art and really stay true to that and see if commerce would follow. We all just lead with our art, not entirely worrying about money; maybe that is the fundamental difference. But there’s probably a lot more, I mean, Springsteen has had a 50-year career, and he’s really prolific. I don’t know, you know, it’s a really good question. But I’m happy with where I am, but I’m not complacent. I take my art, my songwriting and my performance very, very seriously.


When I create my music, I don’t aim it toward the goal of courting a label or a chart position. It’s always towards giving the best possible live performance that I can give to an audience. It’s about bringing an idea or poetry through music, a recording that is there forever. I take that very seriously. Also, at the same time, trying to have fun... but seriously. So there I am. Maybe it’s because I’m a walking conundrum that sort of volume of success has never become part of our history.


Sandee For me, and I am sure for most of your fans, that “walking conundrum” is what they love about you. Seeing an artist perform for art’s sake and not just the dollar is nobel.


In another interview, you mentioned that in the early years, you had fun writing songs about chasing skirts and falling face down in Mexico, but that’s not who you are today. Today you are more interested in citizenship, husbandry and fatherhood. You now write songs about joy and celebration. Is this because you became a father?


Roger Yeah, that was certainly a passage to a great opportunity to mature, and I took that very seriously. It’s quite the adventure of a lifetime to become a father. But yes, fatherhood, husbandhood, and the sense of community have led me on a different path. If I were 53 years old, still talking about getting drunk and chasing after encounters, that would get old pretty quick. I don’t walk that path anymore, and to write about it wouldn’t be authentic. I was that in my 20s, and I am this in my 50s.


Sandee I have learned two things about you. You are not commercial, and you are keenly aware that the voice you put into the world affects people. Do you think if more musicians followed your sense of art and community, our world would be a little happier?


Roger That’s a very, very good question. Regarding being noncommercial, I am not flagrantly noncommercial. I just make the music I make, and if it fits in a moment of commerciality, so be it. I just don’t aim toward any particular genre or trend.

I know a lot of artists who follow their heart with their art, or vice versa. They are out there. They’re just a breed that is a little bit more rare and hard to find. I really admire artists who do that.


I just got back from the Braun Brothers Reunion, which is a big kind of rock and country folk festival in the middle of nowhere, Chalice, Idaho. I was surrounded by, first of all, a huge, huge fan base. A fan base who probably never hear these artists on the radio. The fans just take their time and, through their peer group, find these musicians. Musicians like Mickey and the Motor Cars, Steve Earle and Corb Lund...these artists represent something really authentic. They are a touch rarer than what you’re going to find on the radio.


It’s also the nature of the medium like radio and Tick Tock, or whatever the means of dissemination, that doesn’t really lend itself to authentic expression. But it’s out there, and when you find it, it’s gold.


Anyway, regarding the world being a better place. I have no idea. I like to find my kind, and that’s where my art works, and my work is pretty darn good.

Sandee Roger, I have a personal question. After listening and reading through your interviews, I noticed a guiding philosophy, a way of thinking that is present, celebratory, and an understanding that all is interconnected. And from time to time, I heard you touch on topics of God. Are you Buddhist?


Roger I love that you can detect that. I practice, but I wouldn’t call myself Buddhist. I found that the original teachings are excellent ways to better yourself and be happier in a very chaotic world. I find what works for me in many different religions and spiritualities, and Buddhism is certainly one of them. I appreciate you being able to discern that.


Sandee You’re getting ready to play at Borracho’s this Labor Day weekend! I cannot wait. Small venues are my absolute favorite! The La Capilla Stage is only two blocks from my home; the venue is small and intimate with the beautiful backdrop of the pines. It just creates an excellent atmosphere for enjoying your band.

I wonder, which is your favorite? Large or small venues?


Roger Clyne & The Peacemakers
Roger Clyne & The Peacemakers // Photo by Charlie Stout

Roger I can speak for the whole band. We like them both. When we are in downtown Phoenix or playing at the Rialto in Tucson, it’s a thrill to have a stage set in large production. It’s humbling to play in a venue that big and be able to fill the seats. On the other side of that, there’s a lot of pressure to play big venues and the expectations that go with it. You have to perform exceptionally well, and we do.


But the smaller venues are an opportunity to kind of let everybody’s guard down through the music, and I can make eye contact with everybody. The lights don’t blind me. I can see all the way to the back. They’re just somehow, naturally, a little bit more fun.


One of my favorite bands is Spoon, and Britt Daniel, their lead singer, put it pretty succinctly, “It’s easy to slay in a small room.” And that’s what a band always wants to do, just leave everybody breathless and give each other high fives. That’s just super cool. Somehow a small room where the audience can’t escape the decibels, the spit and the sweat, or the splinters off the sticks, it’s a really cool, very visceral, physical time, and it’s just a lot of fun. It’s full contact rock and roll.


Sandee As an audience member, there’s nothing better. I mean, for me, we actually will only go to small venues anymore just because it’s just so powerful. We love it. And we love that you come to the Park to share your music!


Roger Thank you. We like the idea of returning from our tours across the US, and coming home. We could just play big venues in Phoenix, but we love Arizona, and that’s where the idea of Arizona Highways came from. We thought we could play smaller joints in beautiful places throughout Arionza and call it work. They’re just super fun. We celebrate Arizona because The Peacemakers are proudly rooted here.


Sandee The tattoo on your arm, the artist that designed your tattoo, does he also create your album art?


Roger Yeah, it’s actually Daniel Gonzalez he’s a friend of mine. He was actually in my aunt’s art class in Southern Arizona. When he got old enough to pitch his art, I connected with him. He’s half Apache and half Mexican, which is an amazing mix because those people were historical enemies. So I love that they came together and are the embodiment of this artist who’s spreading love and peace.


He designed a couple of our album covers, the Unida Cantina, The Independent, several posters, and a few t-shirt designs. He’s just great. We use him quite often. Anyway, yeah, he designed the tattoo; it’s on my right forearm. It’s my homage to my desert home. It’s sort of native and represents home, harvest, health and happiness all in one really cool design that Daniel did.


Sandee Roger, another love of yours is excellent Tequila and you have a tequila of your own called Canción Tequila. Borracho’s carries it, and we have a few recipes in this issue of the Pinewood News for those at home who would enjoy it! You can catch it on page 21.


Roger Yeah, our band proudly offers Canción Tequila. We started it just for fun, but the brand is growing, and we want to thank every venue carrying it. We represent Canción, and Canción represents us. We encourage everybody to raise a glass and celebrate life through rock and roll and Canción Tequila.


Sandee One last question. Do you have new releases coming out?


Roger Yes, we packed up, went to Wimberley, Texas, and put together a new album called TexAZ. We mentioned artists that are hard to find but very enriching, this group of guys I worked with are that. I really admire them.


Some songs are from the catalog way back, and some songs are new. We released Never Thought from the album Honky Tonk Union. Cody Braun of Reckless Kelly, probably one of the best fiddle players I ever shared the stage with, produced it. From the same session, we released an original from The Refreshments, Fizzy Fuzzy Big & Buzzy, reimagined by Mike and the Moon Pies. The album also has a present-day spin on “King of The Hill.”


 

We are pleased that Roger took time with the Pinewood News. It was our pleasure to speak with one of America’s best live rock-n-roll bands!


For those lucky to catch him this Labor Day weekend at Borracho’s, be sure to try Roger’s signature Tequila, Canción. ¡Salud!


Roger Clyne & The Peacemakers Arizona Tour Dates

Friday, September 2 // Main Stage // Cottonwood, AZ

Saturday, September 3 // Old Country Inn // Pine, AZ

Sunday, September 4 // Borracho Saloon // Munds Park. AZ

Saturday, September 24 // Rialto Theatre // Tucson, AZ

Tour information here: rogerclyneandthepeacemakers.com/tour