As anyone who’s ever been in a band can tell you, principle of the thing or no principle of the thing, it’s generally preferable to play a show where the actual amount of paying customers is at least double the amount of bartenders and doormen working the venue.
“I wouldn’t say I’m relieved when that happens, but we play for all we’ve got regardless,” says Roger Clyne. “It’s nice to put on a different kind of show. We can take requests, and if you get a shot of tequila, you know who it came from.”
Not that it happens to him very often. Crowds line up around the block to see him and his band, the Peacemakers, in their hometown of Tucson. And when they go on the road, the Peacemakers seldom play the same empty room twice, as their brand of ballsy, brawling country has a way of making the kind of fans who tell two friends, who tell two friends, and so on.
The kind of fans who recently turned out in the kind of numbers needed to garner Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers a nomination for Best Unsigned Band in a recent contest sponsored by Internet titan Yahoo! They didn’t win, but Clyne couldn’t be more pleased.
“It came from the fans, that’s what’s really cool,” he says. “I was on the road when it happened so I didn’t know that much about it, but it’s a real feather in our cap because it’s the fans who showed their support.”
The fans who have bought 30,000 copies of last year’s Honky Tonk Union CD—and that’s just official industry sales, not everything that goes out of cardboard boxes in the back of the Peacemakers’ touring van after the show. To hear Clyne tell it, those person-to-person sales are the ones that really count.
“The best part of being indie is that it keeps relations with fans unadulterated,” he says. “It keeps an untainted, pure pipeline from the band to the fans, and it doesn’t muddy the waters with a lot of corporate involvement.”
Hmm now, you might be wondering to yourself, might there be a Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers fan in me scratching to get out? Yes, undoubtedly. Ever seen the Fox Network comedy “King of the Hill?” Then you’ve already heard Roger Clyne. The insanely catchy instrumental theme song (does anyone else out there now associate garbage bags with cowbells?) is just one high-profile example of Clyne’s handiwork, a little ditty he wrote for his old band the Refreshments while on tour in Chicago. Killer trivia: the song’s original title is “Yahoos and Triangles.” And boy wonder Mike Judge? Is he one of the fans Clyne speaks of so warmly? Yep.
“We shot some pool and drank some mescal,” Clyne says. “He’d already picked that song out to be his theme. He’s really demented—in a good way.”
The Peacemakers don’t play no dang ol’ dang ol’ “King of the Hill” theme. But they’ll sure as hell make one of them dang ol’ dang ol’ fans out of you.