Q&A: Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers

Tempe native Roger Clyne has been rocking for years, closing the gap of fame and charity as he uses CD releases, connections and his ability to gather a crowd for the greater good. With the Peacemakers, he has led his charitable rock band for almost 13 years now. The band’s upcoming event will be record-breaking — seriously. On April 16, Clyne plans to have his fans at Salt Rivers Fields for his latest album release for “Unida Cantina.” All the fans have to do is show up … with a sombrero. Named, fittingly, the Sombrero Solution, Clyne wants to break the world record for most sombreros worn in one location. All proceeds will go to Valley of the Sun United Way.

The State Press caught up with Clyne about the event and his upcoming album.

The State Press: You have chosen for proceeds to be donated to United Way. Why this charity over others?

Roger Clyne: They’re a very well-established, effective community-wide distributer of funds. They have a very good credibility and a lot of different corporate donors with the understanding that they really work hard benefiting the community. It seemed like a wide charity to go with: one that is well-established and a lot of people trust. I’ve been working with United Way for some years now as an advocate and a volunteer.

SP: How much of the proceeds will be going to United Way?

RC: 100 percent of all sombrero sales. Anyone can find them online at azpeacemakers.com. We will have sombreros for sale at the doors of the event. There are all sorts of cantina-like locations that are selling them locally, like Macayo’s, Salty Senorita, and I believe Four Peaks has some over there. So, you buy a sombrero for five or six bucks and then 100 percent of all net profits will go to United Way. We’re hopeful that everyone will want to get together, wear these somewhat silly hats and want to come together to set a world record. So, Sombrero Solution!

SP: As a band, you are known for unique charity events. What does the resume include?

RC: We have done a lot of local benefits. There’s a place downtown called The Arc where they help special needs people. We did a sound check party there. It was essentially a shorter concert, about 50 minutes, for the help and the helped of The Arc. It was very fun and gratifying. Regarding more fundraising, we go down to Mexico and do some events down there. We have a Friday night event at JJ’s Cantina — we call it “A Hotdog and A Smile.” We get a bunch of hotdogs, basically donate it to them, have a great cook and people will come, donate whatever they want, and all the proceeds go the orphanage down there called Esperanza Para Los Ninos. We actually covered their entire operating budget for a year in one night. The following day, we did soccer on the beach in front of the event grounds. The registration goes straight to another organization that does a lot of the invisible work. If the school needs new toilet seats, or something, they take care of it. We do them all the time. It’s really gratifying to bring everyone together. In a world where there’s so many of us to give, it’s nice to give a little bit just by paying attention and giving a little of yourself.

SP: What brought you to the idea to do consistent work through your music?

RC: It’s always been in my personal manifesto to bridge conscious and celebration. To marry those two is to bring people together and give a little bit of ourselves. And when you do that, you receive something bigger. It’s just the karma. Being a good person has its own rewards and it radiates to others. It’s just been a part of me, an expression of compassion and celebration all in one.

SP: A lot of bands try to get out of their hometown when making it big, but you have completely embraced the culture with Spanish lyrics, wearing mariachi clothing and all the works. Why the cultural flair?

RC: Because I love it. This is my home state and my home geographical area, and I just plain love it. I’m proud of it, just in the same way Jimmy Buffett loves his Florida Keys or Bruce Springsteen is advocate of New Jersey. I never thought it was a musical liability to post a cactus on an album cover. I’m just a proud native Arizonan. I just love the culture. It’s just a very unique area. I’ve been coast to coast in every season and nothing compares.

SP: So, “Unida Cantina.” What does this album mean to you? What can your fans expect?

RC: I’ll probably know better in a year. There’s a certain spontaneity to releasing songs without any precognition. “Unida Cantina,” I wanted to write a rock n’ roll record and I wanted it to sound like it was Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers. I wanted it to be fun. And to, like I said before, bridge conscious and celebration. It’s a rock ‘n’ roll album written by a 40-year-old that still has fun and still has a lot of question. So, that’s all in there.

SP: Typically, you had a pattern of releasing albums within two years of each other. Why the longer wait this time?

RC: We did “Turbo Ocho” in 2008. We went down to Mexico and commandeered a seaside house and took all our recording equipment down there, wrote, recorded, mixed and uploaded for sharing eight songs in eight days. Then it took us 60 to 90 days to get out CDs and then we hit the road. We toured for all of 2008 and part of 2009, and then released Glow in the Dark, which was essentially a live album. We had a loose plan to make it into a CD, but it was just a web release in the end. So we focused on that for six or seven months. At that time we found ourselves in the midst of a personnel change. Steve Larson left the band, and Jim (Dalton) joined. We wanted to make sure that we had the reign, and not letting this change get away from us. It took us about a year to get settled in. As we went to record last year in Nashville, the floods came as we were going to get on the plane. So we did it the same way as “Turbo Ocho,” with a little more time.

SP: What’s next?

RC: We’re going to be back on our touring bus for the entire summer into the fall. I love touring, but I love the Arizona spring and summer. So I’ll be trying to be here for flip flop weather. But the short answer is we’ll just be singing and playing rock ‘n’ roll across the nation — hopefully representing Arizona in a positive light. ­­

Reach the reporter at lkjorda1@asu.edu


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