Thursday, July 28, 2011
10 Questions: Roger Clyne of Roger Clyne & The Peacemakers
1) What excites you most about your new album Unida Cantina?
RC: To continue to produce art. I'm a lucky man. I've chosen an artistic path of a very independent rock 'n' roll band. In a very competitive environment, the world as it is, there is so much entertainment, so much stuff for people to pay attention too. It's great to create art that's so well received. It's 2 things really. One: To continue to be able to have the liberty to create. Two: To have it so well received by our fan base is great.
2) This is the first album to incorporate your new lead guitarist Jim Dalton. How did this effect the dynamic of the album?
RC: It was a big change to go from our last guitarist to working with Jim. It's part of the reason that we took so long, 3 years between the studio albums of Turbo 8 and Unida Cantina. There is a certain telepathy that I think has to happen in the band; like forming a new team. You just have to play together long enough to know what each person's strength is and how those strengths can help you with your own weaknesses. We did two years of gigging out to learn with Jim and during those years we wrote a lot. I actually feel comfortable enough to co-write with Jim more than I ever have with any other guitarist. When we finally got into the studio and started working on pre-production we knew it was time. We knew that these songs, these sketches, were ready to work with because we had taken so long to make sure our chemistry was right.
I guess that's the long answer. The short answer is that it's been an absolute delight, and it invigorated me as a writer to work with Jim Dalton.
3) For Close to a decade now, we have heard your music grow in maturity, especially in your lyrics. Has this reflected your personal growth? In this journey how has time effected how you look at the world and the way you look at the music you've made?
RC: I have always thought that the reason we're able to continue to be viable and successful as artists is because we've been honest. We've never followed the cash or chased the charts. We always wanted to make art that's close to the heart. I write songs that I don't even consider sharing with an audience. They're an expression of myself first and then I do my best to have the courage to unabashedly share that.
I guess if you're looking at the progression from Fizzy, Fuzzy, Big and Buzzy, with songs like "Mexico" and "Don't Want to Know" all the way through songs like "Small World" and "Just Got High" on Unida Cantina. I look at myself as a man who is hopefully maturing. I've had to, as I've grown older and have had the privilege to experience more years. I have had more responsibilities offered to me. These opportunities raised to become a man presented to me. Not only am I a lead singer, a musician, and a working poet. I'm also a small business man, a husband and a father. I think all of those responsibilities, all the hope I'm be able to derive from those responsibility is reflected somehow in the songs. As long as I get to stay here on earth, I want to continue the chance to explore my potential through this artistic journey I've decided to take.
4) I recently spoke to an artist who said the older he gets the harder songwriting becomes. D you find this to be true for your self? Why do you think this is and how do you over come it?
RC: I think that's absolutely true. If I was a painter and was handed a pallet, anything I do in the beginning is new, original and novel. After awhile though, once you establish an identity and your own personal distinct picture; the trick is how to not become derivative of yourself. It's a challenge at that point to break new ground beyond what you're comfortable with. As a songwriter I think it's very true that it's more difficult the more I produce. I don't think necessarily that it the older I get, It's the more that I produce. I have written over a hundred songs on 13 albums in my career. I find now that it's difficult if not challenging not to call back an old habit. Like using a 1-4-5 progression with a Minor 6th to break it up. In fact I've done that many, many times so what do I do next? And also, if I want to create a love song in what context can I do it? How can I make it fresh for myself? How can I make it interesting enough so it just doesn't blend in with the rest of the stuff, not only from my own catalog but other people's as well? If I want to write a protest song or an ode to or any celebratory song, it's all the same chance. How do I make another one that's not just like one I made before? Now if I were a baker and I found the perfect cookie. I would keep baking that cookie. But I'm not I'm an artist. I'm a songwriter. And it's the nature of art to evolve and change, to be a vessel for human expression with out becoming common. It is more difficult, more challenging and as for time commitment, you put more time in, to get less.
5) You have found more success as an independent artist than your short stint on a major label. What is the secret to your success?
RC: It really depends on how you define success. I agree with the deposit in your question. Yeah I have found more success because I have been able to continue to do what I love to do with people I respect and enjoy for a long career stent. I don't think that the Peacemakers are as famous as the refreshments once were or perhaps even are now. But that's not the goal. The goal is to have a career that we're all happy with. One that has an integrity of it's own, so when the lights finally go out we can look back and say we ran a good show. The Secret, I don't really think is a secret. It's to make art from your heart. That's one. Two: Be grateful for the people who want to hear it. I know a lot of artists who are less than willing to speak to their audience than in any other way than through their music. I guess that I can sort of understand that but at the end of the day we are all humans. So if someone wants to meet you outside the bus and get an autograph on their poster or whatever, I think we should all stand and be out there. I think being as human and available as I can be as a civilian is important. The most important thing is to be honest and to share yourself. Be honest and grateful and you got a game.
6) In your arsenal of instruments do you have a favorite guitar? What brand is it? Have you given it a name and what's the story behind it?
RC: Yeah, I have my stand by which is a 1999 American made Fender Telecaster. It has an ash body and a maple neck and its supper simple. I'm very hard on my instruments. I'm a pretty physical player. They get pretty dirty and beat up really fast. I strum really hard and I play very thick strings: 13 to 56 gauge strings which is tough on wood. It's hard for my guitars to have much longevity, because they just get so stressed they fail. She doesn't have a name but she has a gender for sure. She's my stand by and when ever I reach for her she's my #1. She being first in the quiver I guess she never had a name but #1.
I have several other guitars that I've come to count on and they do have names. I recently sold one. It was my first custom shop guitar, which was also a Fender Telecaster. It was silver. Silver sparkle. Beautiful, beautiful piece that I sold because I wasn't using it and I couldn't bare to see it just gather dust. I feel they (guitars) are like horses or a boat and they need to be doing what they're made to do, so I ended up selling her. But her name was The Trout because of the silver.
I got another one right now that's La Rubia which is The Blonde. I do name them and usually the names get spray painted on the cases. It's fun to name your guitars like you name a boat or a horse.
7) Circus Mexicus, your yearly festival of all things Peacemakers in Rock Point Mexico celebrates its 20th addition this year. You've stated that this should be the biggest and best fiesta yet. What pleasant surprises did fans find that migrating south of the Border?
RC: We hoped that it would be the biggest and the best but you never know. It seems that every year about the time we announce our show the state department issues its travel advisory report. So people get a little fearful. We've had to worry about hurricanes and passport restrictions and such in the past. Really, instead of pleasant surprises, we focused on what's consistent and what's become a tradition. That being, what happens before and after our rock 'n' roll show; one great Friday night event and one great Sunday night event that bookend the Saturday concert.
We didn't throw ourselves any curve balls this time and try to bite off anything marvel. Sometimes the band will dress up as a theme. We've done an aquatic theme and full mariachi garb before. We just determined that we have about a hundred songs that we would like to share with the fans and if we're lucky we can get in about forty-five in four hours. We just stood and delivered to the finest rock 'n' roll audience on the planet and gave them the finest rock 'n' roll show we could play. At the modest ticket price of $30 bucks gave you, essentially, access to great events throughout the weekend. There was the Friday night barbecue at JJ's Cantina that benefited Esperanza Para Los Ninos Orphanage. There was a jam there all Friday night. Sunday we had Mananathon again at JJ's.
One thing different we had this year. We've had a lot of guests over the past 20 shows that we've done and we essentially invited everyone up and tried to get them all up on stage to jam. We wanted to do this as a way to say thanks and celebrate that we've all created this thing together.
8) If Circus Mexicus is too much for some of your fans, and they decide to extend their stay or make the migration permanent. Play tour guide: Where should they stay? Where should they eat? What fun things are there to see and do in the area? Feel free to to drop names if you like.
RC: I definitely think that if they're going to become ex-patriots, they should set up shop in Cholla Bay which is a little peninsula that's surrounded by the Sea of Cortez. It has great people in it and is a good mix of locals and gringos. It just has a great atmosphere. You can launch your boat from there in a very, very unique way. There's this thing which is essentially a auto skeleton on stilts which drags boats on trailers out into the sea and lets them go. It's really kind of a strange poetry to watch.
You have to have a margarita at JJ's, hopefully a Mexican Moonshine Margarita.
You must have a taco next door at my favorite authentic little taco stand called Mr. Fish Taco. It's a real family owned, small thing. I can never predict when they're going to be open, but they got great fish tacos and definitely ask them for their Chilli Chino, which is a special jalapeno preparation that they do.
Watch the sunset for sure, from Cholla Bay. When you go into Rock Point proper(your about six miles away) be sure to stop at Wreck at the Reef, which is a little Catina on the sea side of the town. In their outdoor seating find yourself some shade, have a drink and watch the tide come in and out. Then I'd go to the malicon which is the tourist heart of the area where you can get any souvenir that you wish and there's also very good dining there right now. From the little taco stand to the fine dining restaurant, pretty much any of them are great.
As for things to do: I'm a diver, a snorkeler, and there's really good diving out of Pinto Point which is between Cholla Bay and Rocky Point. There's very good fishing. I recommend catch and release because there is a lot of pressure on the local fish population. Most of the fishermen I know have shifted over from just plain catch to catch and release.
You can do all that crazy airborne stuff. I'm not a fan of that kind of altitude, but you can charter a glider or a para-sail. There's all kinds of Acapulco-esc versions of entertainment should you decide to indulge. For me, it's not about doing much it's about doing little. So I enjoy long slow meandering conversations and a few drinks during the day. Watching the sun go down. Maybe getting a siesta and eating some good Mexican food. That's my idea of heaven.
9) You and the band do a lot of work in the area of community involvement. From PH's Hotdog and a smile, being members of 1% for the planet and Sombrero Solution to name a few. What future influences would you like to have on your fans through your community work and music?*
RC: You are right we are very involved and for me it is personally gratifying to create cohesion in community. I think what is most important, is that if the music has any resonance or effect, I hope it's one that fosters kindness and compassion for our fellow man and woman. And no matter how you express it, that you do express it. It doesn't matter, if you want to help with a volunteer fire brigade or do a local or national toy drive. The specifics especially don't matter, but what I think is important, is that if our music has a community building aspects to it, that people incorporate that into their daily lives. Who knows, it might be picking up a piece of trash on your neighbors lawn. Small acts done by individuals, when you put them together in a community they make a difference and I think that's something planet earth needs very much right now.
10) What is the name of 5 Bands you love but few people have heard of?
The Hold Steady
Six String Drag
The Proud Flesh
*Thanks supper fan Shelly Clark for the question.