Roger Clyne & The Peacemakers are musical beacons of the Southwest. Over the last fifteen years, the Arizona-based quartet has delivered vivid lyrics, addictive guitar riffs, and a full-bodied rhythm section on more than a dozen studio and live albums. The Independent marks the group’s newest release and seventh studio effort, which raises a metaphorical glass to the road less traveled and champions the courageous.
After landing in the top ten of Billboard’s Internet Sales Chart for six consecutive albums—all on independent labels and twice at number one—RCPM is poised to lead the charge for a Spanish-infused, roots rock revolution. The band’s annual music festival in Rocky Point, Mexico, known as Circus Mexicus, is a testament to their growing fan base. What began as a rooftop show thrown together with extension cords and wooden pallets has blossomed into a pilgrimage that draws thousands of “Peacemakers” to the beach town every June. “There’s something about our music that celebrates what’s uniting versus what’s dividing,” says Clyne.
Irony played an integral role in the creation of The Independent, whose first track emerged from a stifling case of writers block. Armed with his guitar and battling creative blockades, Clyne unleashed the phrase “I ain’t got the words for this” and as a result the first lyrics for the album were realized. “Ain’t Got The Words” leads The Independent, exposing hearty vocal grit and liberating honesty.
The album features guitarist Jim Dalton, bassist Nick Scropos, drummer P.H. Naffah, and Clyne on vocals and rhythm guitar. While Clyne pens the bulk of the Peacemaker’s tunes, a long stretch of Northern California highway set the stage for Dalton’s lyrical debut. Traveling along the Causeway between Sacramento and San Francisco, RCPM’s tour bus came to a screeching halt. “The bus driver screamed back at us and said, ‘Guys I got nothing!’” recalls Dalton. “I grabbed my guitar and started strumming. The words ‘Just another California breakdown’ came tumbling out.”
The inspiration behind Dalton’s guitar-laden, hard luck tune “California Breakdown” remains one of the band’s favorite memories to date. After alerting fans via Facebook to their sidelined 40 ft tour bus, The Peacemakers received more offers for a ride than they could accept. Devout fans piled RCPM’s gear onto a landscape trailer, loaded the musicians into their cars, and headed into the sunset for the San Francisco show.
The title track off The Independent is a representation of the group’s Southwest influences, delivering an instrumental collaboration that evokes desperado imagery and draws inspiration from old west greats like Sons of The Pioneers. Inversely, the track “Geronimo” is a radio-ready anthem that begins with dark undertones and mariachi roots before building into an uplifting call to arms that chides, “Time to sing a new battle cry, get up out of limbo, step into the blue sky, geronimo!”
The reoccurring themes of independence and chance arguably stem from RCPM’s decision to record the album in Naffah’s Somos Studios, which also found the drummer in the role of producer. Clyne is no stranger to Naffah’s talents, as the pair originally began playing together in the celebrated 90’s alt-rock act The Refreshments. Clyne credits Naffah for being a solid component in his 100+ song repertoire.
Riding into the music industry on their own terms has been a longstanding philosophy for the band, and in this case created a sense of freedom that allowed Clyne & company to make an unapologetic album that’s pleasingly rough around the edges. Rich with commanding vocals, melodic bass lines, tambourine, and a hint of keys, The Independent embodies the spirit of RCPM.
“The Independent is a double entendre,” says Clyne. “It represents the solo sojourner, but it also frames the idea of moving forward as a collective group in the name of independence.”
Traveling off the beaten path works to the advantage of Roger Clyne & The Peacemakers. Clyne has successfully spearheaded the production of his own ultra-premium sipping tequila called Mexican Moonshine Tequila, orchestrated an out of country music festival, and guided a band whose fan base has grown exponentially over the last decade. Clyne notes that the lyrics off the track “Right Where We Want ‘Em” sums up the sentiment of The Independent. The song speaks of encouragement and unlikely victory, stating, “Out numbered, out flanked, out muscled, out ranked and out gunned.” Clyne sings, “Take another long trip off a short plank, at a dead run. We got ‘em.”
Roger Clyne & The Peacemakers “got ‘em right where we want ‘em now.”