Interview with Roger Clyne and Peacemakers’ Circus Mexicus Team
1. What brought RCPM together? Where did this life project begin?
“Roger Clyne & The Peacemakers (RCPM) are proof that the crazy, reckless, restless, swaggering soul of American rock is still burning a hole in the night sky…guitars blaze, quake and quiver, drums slip, thud and thunder with killer melodies and hooks and the occasional reggae or mariachi rhythm laced through the middle to keep it all honest and interesting.” — Paste Magazine
Good rock & roll is not always measured by radio airplay or platinum records.
Good, unadulterated, uncompromised rock is measured by the honesty and the passion the band puts into their music, their performances, and in return, the passion of their fans, each feeding off the other to create a euphoric synergy in concert.
For over a decade, RCPM have been serving up nothing but pure, timeless rock &roll. And in the process, have stuck to their credo of letting art lead commerce by mixing relentless guitar licks, 4 part harmonies and thought-provoking lyrics.
RC, guitarist Jim Dalton, drummer PH Naffah and bass player Nick Scropos are renowned as one of the tightest, most energetic and exciting live acts on the road today. Lead singer and Arizona native Clyne has been called both the Troubadour and the Springsteen of the Southwest.
Over the past thirteen years, RCPM have released 6 studio albums, three live albums and an Extended Play all on an independent record label. They are the only independent band to debut in the Top Ten on Billboard’s Internet Sales chart for six consecutive albums, including 2 number one entries – 1999′s Honky Tonk Union and two thousand four ¡Americano! (american)Their latest release is Unida Cantina(united Bar), a guitar-driven roots Rock & Roll record that reached number two on Billboard’s Heatseekers chart and number four on iTunes Rock Albums list in two thousand eleven.
Each year, the Peacemakers tour the United States several times over, travel south of the border to play in México and in two thousand and ten completed their first ever tour of the UK. The experience and comradeship of the band members shine on Unida Cantina, the most upbeat and collaborative effort yet for the band.
Unida Cantina (united bar) (also pronounced as, “You Need A Cantina” in americano speak) is Roger’s most infectious record since he and Naffah released their 96 cult-classic, Fizzy, Fuzzy, Big and Buzzy with their previous band, The Refreshments, on Mercury Records. Fizzy, Fuzzy, Big and Buzzy was Radio & Record’s ninth Best-Selling Debut Album of the Year, went to #1 on Billboard’s Heatseeker Chart and spawned two popular radio hits, “Banditos” and “Down Together.” Their efforts landed them guest spots on The Conan O’Brien Show and MTV’s 120 Minutes. The Refreshments also wrote and performed the King of the Hill theme song.
On Unida Cantina, RCPM teamed up with producer/engineer/mixer and long time friend Clif Norrell (The Refreshments, Rush, No Doubt, R.E.M) to record 13 new songs. Collectively, the songs on Unida Cantina represent both the disillusionment and enlightenment of where Clyne’s life is today compared to where he thought he would be when he was in his “immortal 20s.” In many ways, it turned out different than he thought it would. But it also turned out better than could have imagined.
The result is pure American guitar-driven roots Rock & Roll. “All Over the Radio” is the album’s first track, mixing the classic elements of RCPM music in crunching guitars and mariachi horn section. Other rocking songs soon to become instant Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers classics include “Dinero(money),” “Heaven on a Paper Plate” and “Go With the Flow,” the first song Roger and Dalton ever wrote together.
The Spanish-influenced “Marie” has already become a fan favorite thanks to an acoustic recording session with MusicFog during the Steamboat Music Festival and a video that was released on the Internet.
The beautifully written “Small World” touches on the difficult task of showing the ultimate act of love for someone by letting go.
As Roger sings on “Paper Airplanes,” ‘if you’re feeling like you’re too small for this world, or if you’re feeling you’re talking but there’s no one there to listen,’ sometimes you just need a place you can unify with other like minded people to weather the storm. And you may just find Unida Cantina. (united Bar)
2. Did you ever think you would create this movement of thousands of people, making a journey across the border twice a year?
No way- the first shows were just a reason for the band to spend a weekend on the beach. Each year it became a little bigger and a little more fun until we’re lucky enough to have people use our weekends as a way to spend family get togethers, college reunions, out of state road trips and who knows what else? We’re all fortunate to be able to put shows on like this because they are supported so well.
3. When people listen to your music for the first, they seem to get hooked right away and they become loyal followers of the band. We found this happening to many of the first time visitors in Rocky Point, Why do you think RCPM and Rocky Point have this in common?
What happens in Rocky Point is more of a cultural thing than music or a vacation destination. We get hundreds of messages after each weekend not only about the concert, but about how much people enjoyed meeting new friends, seeing that Mexico is safe and not what they read in the paper, what great food they had among many other things. We’ve had lots of people get married who met at Circus Mexicus as well as many enjoying single life at our shows.
4. Do you prepare yourself in a different way for your performances in Rocky Point? What do you enjoy the most about performing in Rocky Point?
No, the preparations aren’t different. Although the shows in Rocky Point tend to be longer than typical touring dates, the band never takes a night off whether in Rocky Point or Rockford, IL. Rocky Point is home to many of the characters found in songs on most RCPM and Refreshments albums. The fans and band alike all know them and performing the songs in Rocky Point bring them all to life.
5. What are your must do, must see and must eat, every time you come to Rocky Point?
We’ve make a conscious effort to incorporate as much of Rocky Point into our weekends as much as possible including great places to eat and drink. Of course both Wreckeds and JJ’s are always a must, but Xochitl’s, Senor Amigos, Capone’s, Chango’s, La Curva, Max’s Café and every open air taco stand are all favorites of the band and fans alike.
6. Besides your regular tours with Circus Mexico and January Jam JJ’s, do you come with family and friends to enjoy the beach in Rocky Point?
Roger and his family have property in Cholla Bay and visit several times per year when not playing concerts. PH and Nick have been visiting Rocky Point since their college days and Jim Dalton was brought down to perform at Circus Mexicus many years ago prior to joining RCPM as lead guitarist.
7. What do you think about the safety situation in other parts of the country could affect Rocky Point visitors?
Obviously it has had an effect. Our position is encouraging everybody to make their own informed decision whether or not to travel to Mexico. If we ever feel not holding a concert weekend is in the best of interest of our fans, we’ll make that decision if necessary. Thirteen years and 27 performances later, we’ve haven’t had to do so.
8. What is RCPM most memorable anecdote in Rocky Point?
There have been so many. If we had to pick one it would be seeing our fans generosity over the past 6 years creating enough financial support to build a 30 bed dormitory at La Casa de Esperanza para los Ninos.
9. RCPM have always been promoters of our beautiful town, what would you like to see happening in Rocky Point in the next 10 years? How do you think the arrival of Cruise ships and flights from different cities will change the dynamics of Rocky Point?
We’ll see. Managed growth including positive impact to the people of Penasco is what I’d like to see. Unfortunately, that’s not always the way projects get developed. We all hope the sleepy little drinking town with a fishing problem can maintain its character while still providing economic engines to give the people more opportunity. I’ve been visiting Rocky Point for 30 years and I’m not a big fan of developers or promoters who talk a big game making promises to locals solely for their own benefit. There has been plenty of that over the years, but there has been some positive growth which has provided quality jobs and tourism opportunities.
10. You seem to be a fan of Mexico, Is that why you started your own brand of Tequila? What are your plans for “Mexican Moonshine”?
Roger is a huge tequila fan. His story can be found at www.mexicanmoonshine.com . We’ll be introducing our Anejo very soon.
11. What´s next for RCPM?
Fans can expect new music from RCPM in 2013! The band will be playing for 6 days throughout the Caribbean in February followed by Spring and Summer touring. It’s always great for long time fans to connect with new music while still seeing the band perform great songs spanning almost 20 years!