As a bearded, sunburned Roger Clyne slides into a booth at his favorite Mexican food joint, Tempe’s 3 Margaritas, he’s apologizing for almost being late. It seems he got stuck at the border coming back from Mexico behind a tour bus full of elderly folks who were made to get off and stand around while the feds searched the bus.
“I have no idea what they were looking for,” Clyne laughs after ordering a couple of tacos and speaking Spanish with the staff, who recognize Clyne as, if not one of the premier songwriters to come out of Arizona in the last decade, at least a regular at the restaurant. “It was a long wait getting through.”
Clyne has been busy with two projects of late, the first being the just-released, long-awaited fourth studio album from Roger Clyne and The Peacemakers, titled “No More Beautiful World.” The other is a catamaran he recently bought and keeps moored close to JJ’s Cantina in Puerto Peñasco.
“I grew up at The Lakes (in Tempe), and we had a little sailboat,” Clyne says of the origins of his love of sailing. “But then I discovered girls and guitars. I’m just now getting back into it.”
Guitars have been very good to Clyne over the years. He fronted Tempe’s wildly popular band The Refreshments in the 1990s, releasing two major-label albums before the groups’ demise, then promptly put together Roger Clyne and The Peacemakers with ex-Refreshments drummer P.H. Naffah (and which now includes bassist Nick Scropos and guitarist Steve Larson). The band has built a national following with a do-it-yourself ethos that sees Clyne doing everything from releasing records on his own Emma Java label to booking national tours.
With the disc now in stores and a tour booked until mid-May, culminating in the band’s Circus Mexicus show in Puerto Peñasco, Clyne won’t have much time for sailing.
“We’re going to be busy,” he says. “But I love my job. Music is the vehicle I’ve chosen through which to grow, and I feel very fortunate that I can share it.”
Always a literary songwriter seeking universal truths through his music, Clyne says he chose the title of the new disc, “No More Beautiful World” — a line taken from the cut “Goon Squad” — because of the line’s dual meaning.
“You can choose your own (meaning) when you think of the title,” says Clyne. “I wanted to illuminate individual choice. When I tell people the title, some of them say, 'Perfect! There is no more beautiful world,’ and other people say, 'Wow, that’s kind of negative.’ ”
“I wanted to try to find that fulcrum for the lever, that the glass is half full/half empty duality.”
The packaging of the disc includes a quote from Gandhi that says, “You must be the change you wish to see in the world,” a concept Clyne explores on the disc.
“I want ('No More Beautiful World’) to be empowering to (the listener), so that he or she could serve, in a beneficial way, the world community,” Clyne says. “It’s (thematically) about the choices we make (in order to) create the world.
“Wow, you say that about rock ’n’ roll, but why not rock ’n’ roll? And, hopefully, it’s a hell of a lot of fun to listen to.”
'No More Beautiful World’
Roger Clyne and The Peacemakers
Since his days fronting Tempe’s The Refreshments in the 1990s, Roger Clyne has known how to write a catchy pop hook, but his work with Roger Clyne and The Peacemakers has seen the singer/songwriter stretch out on the band’s three studio discs into such genres as country, roots rock and mariachi-tinged folk rock.
The band’s latest disc, “No More Beautiful World,” finds Clyne back at his pop-songwriting peak and experimenting with the Southwestern-inflected reggae of earlier work such as The Refreshments’ “Mekong” and “Wanted,” as well as Peacemaker tunes “Leaky Little Boat” and “Love Come Lighten My Load.”
The pop/rock cuts on “No More Beautiful World,” such as the album kickoff “Hello New Day,” “Maybe We Should Fall in Love” and “Goon Squad,” all feature the stinging, instantly memorable hooks of guitarist Steve Larson, and the whole disc benefits from the outstanding rhythm section work of bassist Nick Scropos and drummer P.H. Naffah.
Fans of The Refreshments’ breakthrough hit “Banditos” will find Clyne revisiting his lawless, good-natured hedonism in the bouncy “Contraband” and “Wake Up Call,” both set in the mythical south-of-the-border badlands that have fueled Clyne’s muse for a decade. Reggae-tinged cuts such as “World Gone Crazy,” “Lemons” and “Winter in Your Heart” are downright buoyant in spirit and positive vibes.
“No More Beautiful World” is Clyne at his most optimistic, his first true feel-good record since The Refreshments’ “Fizzy Fuzzy Big and Buzzy,” and the result is a disc sure to lighten the load of RCPM’s rabid fan base.
>> >> Roger Clyne and The Peacemakers perform 8 p.m. Saturday, March 24, at Celebrity Theatre, 440 N. 32nd St., Phoenix. $25. (602) 267-1600 or azpeacemakers.com