Return of Tempe’s own rock ‘n roll legend

Roger Clyne
              Roger Clyne

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By Chase Kamp

Veteran songwriter Roger Clyne is one of Tempe’s most enduring rock ‘n roll exports and perhaps the city’s best showman. Along with Robin Wilson o f Gin Blossoms, he was a major figure in the city’s ‘90s alt rock heyday, and as the leader of Roger Clyne & the Peacemakers, he’s crafted clever desert-country narratives chased with rock bombast and south-of-the-border Mariachi accoutrements.

The band returned to the Valley to perform their distinctly southwestern jams at San Tan Brewery Oktobertfest in Chandler Oct. 1, which, while not exactly resembling German polka, still fit in nicely with suds and sausages.

Clyne, calling during a pit stop in Omaha, Nebraska, said that he and the crew were looking forward to the gig, which also affords them a week of much-needed rest between tour legs. “It’s going to be nice to get our heels on our home soil,” he said, alluding to the fact that he, his wife Alisa and their children Otis, Ruston and Lily still maintain a residence here. Clyne’s trajectory started by leading Tempe alt-rockers The Refreshments to fame in 1996 on the back of “Banditos,” a playful radio staple most known for the chorus:

“Everybody knows / that the world is full of stupid people,” later writing the jaunty opening theme to the widely syndicated animated comedy King of the Hill.

After some acrimonious major label dealings, Clyne joined Refreshments drummer Paul “P.H.” Naffah to form Roger Clyne & the Peacemakers in 1999, and they haven’t looked back after seven albums.

That is, until now.

The group kicked off a tour this year in celebration of the 20th anniversary of the Refreshments’ debut album Fizzy Fuzzy Big & Buzzy, their mainstream breakthrough, performing the entire album top to bottom on many dates.

Serving up as many as 200 performances a year, Clyne said he labors carefully over the set list every night. Yet this anniversary tour has the group playing songs that had gone untouched for years, something refreshing for everyone in the room.

“They’re so old, they’re new again,” Clyne said. “It’s fun for me. I’m having a nostalgia trip with the fans.”

It’s not only the honed regional flavor of Roger Clyne & the Peacemakers that has earned them a virulent fan base of rockers and country folks: it’s the band’s ability to throw a good party.

Clyne charms audiences with emphatic drinking tales, both American and Mexican, and they ring especially true at Circus Mexicus, the band’s annual music festival in Rocky Point, Mexico that draws thousands. Clyne’s well-reviewed signature tequila, Mexican Moonshine, also adds plenty of good-time credibility.

So, of course, an Oktoberfest gig sits fine with Clyne, a massive fan of San Tan Brewery and the local microbrew beer scene.

“It’s true craft,” he said. “I’m loving it. People are making beer with such care and individual creativity.”

He said San Tan Brewery sells the most Mexican Moonshine margaritas in the Valley, sounding almost breathless describing one of their signature cocktails that combines his 100% agave spirit with their HopShock IPA. “It’s seductive,” he said.

Beyond the anniversary tour and microbrews, the band aims to release a new album by spring of next year. “In the midst of looking back 20 years, we’re still looking forward,” Clyne said. “Time flies when you’re having fun, and it flew. We hope to get another 20 years with our audience.”

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