Mexico is as much an idea as a place for Roger Clyne " an escape both virtual and figurative.
From the loose talk of absconding across the border on the Refreshments' minor hit "Banditos," to blood-on-his-hands desperados on the lam ("Americano"), or tourists whiling away their time under the spell of "Mexican Moonshine," Clyne's songs often paint the country as a Southern sanctuary.
So it was appropriate that Roger Clyne & The Peacemakers celebrated their decade together by decamping Phoenix for Rocky Point, Mexico, where they recorded last year's breakout sixth album, "Turbo Ocho." Over eight days, he and the band wrote and tracked the entire album, broadcasting daily feeds of the process to fans from their Web site. The spontaneity infuses the album with a playful insouciance appropriate to his oeuvre, whether it's the wistful lightly strummed, reawakening of "Summer Number 39," or the pirate/beach bum ode, "Mañana."
"I don't think they're (about) escape so much as they're an embracing of something more human, more internal, more tangible, less 'punch the clock' and more 'feel the vibration of your own world,'" Clyne said. "I consider (my songs) more life-affirming and embracing than escaping."
Indeed, while there can be a lot of playfulness and partying in his tunes, there's usually something dark on the horizon, that lurks just beyond view. Whether it's the soul-crushing tedium of a 9-to-5 job or the long arm of the law, the allure is similar.
"Outlaws are fun," he said. "Everybody wants to be that guy that doesn't really have a schedule, on the outside, on the fringes, and in pursuit of happiness, but also being pursued at the same time."
The interactive, Internet-savvy, fan-friendly nature of "Turbo Ocho" is consistent with Clyne's approach since beginning the Peacemakers in the wake of the Refreshments' 1998 dissolution. That band's breakup after six years and its pair of major-label albums informed his subsequent DIY approach. Not only was he disillusioned with the business side, he could read the writing on the wall.
"I could say we knew all along and we made the courageous choice," Clyne said with a snicker, "but the other choice was so unappealing and unintelligent."
Sometimes it seems he enjoys joining the front-row party as much as being onstage " a product of The Peacemakers' infectious, alcohol-soaked live performances. If he can't drag you across the border, he'll bring the act's Mexico state of mind to you. It's the gospel they preach: some warmth and succor " like a shot of tequila " to ease the chill.
"When we looked at the bottom line " for example, for this tour " to see if it was affordable, and really, by all practical purposes, it's not. But it's like, what are we going to do? Stay home?" Clyne said. "We made the decision to come out because times are rough. This is when we're supposed to be out there. Talk about shirking one's duty. If I purport to be a community builder and say, 'Let's come together and give our best for each other,' and then not show up, that would be a cardinal sin." "Chris Parker