Art leading commerce.
For 15 years Roger Clyne & The Peacemakers have stuck to their credo of writing unadulterated and uncompromised rock-n-roll without falling victim to the allure of creating a flavor of the week record. Like Petty and Springsteen, the Peacemakers write songs that are timeless through all generations.
All of Clyne’s success with RCPM has been accomplished on a 100% independent record label.
With their latest album, The Independent, Clyne and his Peacemakers show no sign of resting on their laurels and coasting through a period of middle-age stagnation. The Independent is one of the band’s most vigorous albums in years.
“It’s more aggressive than most of our records. It’s back to fun rockville,” said drummer PH Naffah. “Sonically, its a little rougher around the edges. And that’s a good thing.”
“No punches were pulled in the making of this record,” concurred lead guitarist Jim Dalton, while bassist Nick Scropos added, “It was back to the basics. It was relaxed and fun. Rock and roll straight up.”
The Independent finds Clyne and company turning up the amps, starting with the opening track, “Ain’t Got the Words,” a straightforward, four on floor rocker that’s sure to be a regular on the set list for years to come. The sound is as raw as Clyne’s gravelly voice at the beginning of the song, and gradually builds to a crowd singalong “Fa La La” by the end.
“Geronimo,” a song that Clyne debuted more than a year ago during one of his backyard patio livestream performances called the Cantina Cast, is another standout rocker with Dalton’s heavy guitar tone. And while Clyne receives ribbing for writing a lot of songs that end in “O” (Americano, Mexico, Dinero, Buffalo and even Banditos), he also writes a lot of good songs with “love” in the title. “Love Knows How” can now be added to the list. The mid-tempo poppy song is another that is sure to become an instant fan favorite.
The song “California Breakdown” (which Clyne called a “good solid rock song.”) was written by Dalton after a series of tour bus mishaps on the West Coast last summer.
“Eventually, it also became about other California ‘breakdowns’ including those of aspiring actors and musicians, and the hard realities they face in the pursuit of their dreams,” Dalton said.
“It was a magic moment. That breakdown, that interruption in our progress became a building point for more good stuff on the journey. It was really cool. Instead of that moment becoming a death, it was a rebirth,” Clyne said.
Another one of many standouts on The Independent is “5×5,” a song that is also one of the album’s highlights for Dalton.
“I had written the music for it during some difficult times and I think you can hear a certain sadness in it. I shared it with Roger hoping he could work his magic with it lyrically. He exceeded my expectations of what the song could become. It’s my favorite collaboration since “Marie” and one of my favorite songs, period.”
“Stick It To The Man” finds RCPM exploring new territory musically, starting off with Clyne’s vocals with only a piano accompaniment. The movie Hedwig and the Angry Inch has been a long time favorite of the band, and was dusted off on the tour bus last summer. During the band’s annual January Jam two-day music festival in Rocky Point, Mexico earlier this year, RCPM knocked “Tear Me Down” off the Hedwig soundtrack, out of the park.
One could argue the influence of Hedwig can be heard in “Stick It To The Man.” The song progresses through a number of time signatures, ending with an upbeat rhythm that falls somewhere between Hedwig and the Rocky Horror Picture Show. It’s one of several songs fans should be anxious to hear live.
The Independent is Roger Clyne & The Peacemakers’ 7th studio album, The appropriately titled, record is filled with plenty of attitude and swagger, and again puts the fun in rock-n-roll with RCPM’s blend of crunching guitar riffs laced with Clyne’s traditional Southwest-South of the border flavoring.
RCPM are the only independent band to debut in the Top 10 on Billboard’s Internet Sales chart for six consecutive albums, including two #1 entries. Their 2011 album, Unida Cantina, reached #2 on Billboard’s Heatseekers chart and #4 on iTunes Rock Albums list.
Naffah mixed and produced The Independent in his home studio in Arizona. It’s the first time the band has produced their own album since 2002’s Sonoran Hope and Madness.
“The technology has advanced since then, and so have we,” he said.
But while Naffah was doing a lot of the technical work, he says the creation of the album was truly a full band effort.
“To see everyone excited about the songs makes me excited,” he said. “I’m anxious to get out there and start playing the new songs. Every record we do is my favorite record.”
Clyne agreed it was the “best creative chemistry we’ve ever felt in the studio.”
“The Independent is a rock-n-roll record. It’s full of solid songs that are fun, and hopefully thought-provoking. And hopefully people can identify themselves in the songs,” he said.
Often referred to as the Springsteen of the Southwest and the Tucson Troubadour, Clyne is a third generation Arizonan and a songwriter who regularly bares his soul in rock ‘n’ roll originals that are often tinted with Southwest influences. He is at home with a pair of boots on a ranch in Tucson or hiking across the Sonoran Desert as he is wearing a pair sandals next to the Sea of Cortez or bellying up to the bar in his favorite Third World cantina.
Clyne & Naffah enjoyed an accomplished stint with The Refreshments, the late-90s rock band whose cult-classic album Fizzy Fuzzy, Big & Buzzy produced the hit singles “Banditos” and “Down Together.” Clyne wrote and performed with The Refreshments the theme song for the hit cartoon King of the Hill. RCPM also wrote the “DBcks Swing,” a song played after every home victory by the Arizona Diamondbacks of Major League Baseball.