“My career hasn’t been one punctuated by epiphanies. It’s just been one long slow revelation,” says singer Roger Clyne as he returns with his family from Mexico.
Clyne has led his Tempe, Ariz.-based band the Peacemakers for a decade, dealing in a Southwestern rock blend that draws on country-blues stretched across a rock backbeat and inscribed with witty, heartfelt attitude. Their grass-roots following is legion at this point, won over by great live performances and their inviting vibe.
“There’s a special thing that happens between artist and audience where there is a blurring of that line and a sense of community comes out of it,” says Clyne. “The Peacemakers have always focused on that moment and that unique chemistry between us and the audience. Moving units – it puts fuel in the tank, I guess, but it’s not really about that,” he says. “And the big game is increasingly looking like the little game. It’s all about heart-to-heart stuff, and that’s where the Peacemakers come in.”
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Clyne built that connection from the ground up, releasing all six of the group’s albums on his own Emma Java Recordings. Each one has debuted in Billboard’s Top Internet Album Sales chart. Their latest, Turbo Ocho, was recorded in a marathon eight-day session featuring daily video updates on their website. Their fans even had an impact on the recording when the positive response to a little off-the-cuff ditty prompted the band to turn it into a bubbly beach-bum-in-paradise paean, “Mañana.”
The album was recorded in Cholla Bay, Mexico, in a house overlooking the Sea of Cortez. The idea, forged during the tour for 2007’s No More Beautiful World, was to celebrate their 10th year and share the experience with those who made it possible. The setting was a natural choice, since Mexico has figured prominently in Clyne’s songs going back to his days leading the Refreshments and their cheeky criminal ode, “Banditos” (“Everybody knows that the world is full of stupid people/Well, I got the pistol, so I’ll keep the pesos”).
“I railed against the realization that I’m a Rocky Point `Mexico` poster child. ‘That’s terrible,’ `I thought`. ‘I’m not on an ATV, wearing a shirt that says I fuck on the first date. I’m not that guy.’ But later I realized there could be a strength in having a definite association with a location that is already mythical in its proportion. Mexico isn’t just here, it’s really everywhere. Bruce `Springsteen` did it with New Jersey,” Clyne explains.
Turbo Ocho enjoys an engaging vibrancy due to the quick-and-dirty recording aesthetic. It’s loose and assured, cool but down-to-earth, highlighted by the whimsical “Captain Suburbia” and the wistful beauty of “Summer Number 39.”
“I’ve always shot for mirth and meaning, conscience and celebration, art and entertainment,” Clyne says. “I know those are thin lines, but I don’t think they’re necessarily opposites. I think they can all exist in the same moment. It just depends on your particular perspective.”[email protected]