By Al Kaufman
Roger Clyne has always followed his muse. The son of an Arizona school teacher and a rancher, Clyne started playing music at the age of five. He went on to form The Refreshments, a band that sang of the joys of being young and male in a wide open landscape. Songs tended to center around women, drinking, trips to Mexico, and drinking with women in Mexico. They signed with Mercury and released Fizzy Fuzzy Big & Buzzy in 1996. “Banditos” (“Give your ID card to the border guard/Yeah your alias says you’re Captain Jean-Luc Picard.”) was a hit, as was their theme to King of the Hill. When their follow-up, The Bottle & Fresh Horses, received no label support, he broke up the band and went the DIY route before going DIY was even thought about. Roger Clyne & the Peacemakers released Honky Tonk Union on their own Emma Java recordings label in 1999, and have produced seven more albums since. All have that great dusty, raw, rock and roll sound that take you along wide open interstates, double wide trailers, and dark bar rooms. Love and adventure is found and lost, mortality (but not morality) is questioned, and alcohol is drunk.
If Clyne has a drink of preference, it is that pride of Mexico, tequila. On “Jack vs. Jose,” off of Honky Tonk Union, Clyne gets booted out of a bar filled with men wearing Stetson hats and gator skin boots because he has the audacity to order Jose Cuervo instead of Jack Daniels. During his rambunctious live shows (during which hippies and frat boys sing songs shoulder to shoulder) he has been known to imbibe freely from a bottle, then pass it around for all to communally consume.
While some notable hard partying rockers, like Perry Farrell, have done ads for tequila, Clyne has taken it a few steps further and created his own. Mexican Moonshine – the name comes from a song off of the 2004 release, Americano – was originally created for the 2004 Circus Meximus (a music event Clyne has hosted in Rocky Point, Mexico for many years) and immediately sold out. It was actual moonshine because the 1,000 bottles he produced were not yet licensed. Clyne was a hands-on partner, with input on everything from the recipe to the labeling. The tequila is, according to Clyne, “a luminous libation of life, liberty, and laughter.” What it is not is something to be taken lightly. His three different versions (Silver, Reposado, and Anejo), all made from 100% agave spirits, won awards at the 2013 Spirits of Mexico (two gold and a silver), while Reposado took the 2011 Best of the Best award at Tequila.net. An environmentalist, Clyne’s distillery in Tequila, Jalisco, Mexico (where all tequila must come from, or else it is called “Mezcal,”) removes impurities from the waste water after the tequila is made. And the tequila comes with a Roger Clyne CD glued to the bottom, because good tequila goes down even better with good music. Salut!
Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers play State Theater in Falls Church, VA with Fifth on the Floor, on Sunday, November 17th.