The popular Tempe rock 'n' roll band Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers could have easily named their latest project What I Did on My Vacation.
But you could hardly call it a vacation.
Early in January, the band decamped to the Mexican resort town of Cholla Bay, where they transformed a friend's beach house into a recording studio. Clyne and company challenged themselves to write and record eight new songs in as many days, posting daily updates, streaming audio and in-the-studio video footage on the Internet.
They dubbed the project Turbo Ocho, and celebrated the completion of the event with a sold-out live concert at the Cholla Bay nightclub JJ's Cantina. The band will release a CD of the new material to the world on March 15.
In the meantime, Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers--long a nightclub favorite in the Old Pueblo--will be playing their first Tucson date since last summer. It happens this weekend at the Rialto.
Eight songs in eight days: No problem for a well-traveled troubadour like Clyne, right?
"I'm still a little close to the canvas to evaluate the process, but I can say I didn't realize what a tall order that would be until we got into it," Clyne said a few days ago on the phone from Cholla Bay, to which he had returned for a proper holiday.
"I didn't realize until we started what kind of pressure that would put on us," Clyne continued. "After we made the first song, and the first day became the second, I realized, 'We have another week of this.'
"I began getting up earlier and earlier every day to put my ear to the wall, so to speak, and listen to the muse. I'd get up at 5 or 6 every morning, shake whatever hangover was out of my head, grab the coffee, and by 10 or 11, I'd come over to the beach house and see what was going on with the other guys, bringing them my ideas for the new song."
Although the Peacemakers had planned to release Turbo Ocho as a CD from the beginning, it wasn't the primary goal, Clyne said.
"Turbo Ocho is about what happens to creativity in such close confines. How do you listen to the muse and do so spontaneously? That we are releasing it as an album is secondary. Art should lead to commerce, not the other way around. As musicians, we want to embody more the spirit than the vessel."
The final Turbo Ocho release will include a DVD with lots of video documentation, as well as three or four additional songs. The extra tunes were chosen by fans of the band, he said.
One of the songs on Turbo Ocho, "Tune in Mañana," actually was written at the request of the fans, Clyne added.
"One day, on the video, we signed off for the evening with the brief ... refrain, I guess you'd call it, 'Tune in mañana,' and this theme emerged. We received so many requests to turn it into a song, it was amazing. We cautiously responded, but it was the hardest song to write. We did like three rewrites before we captured the spontaneity of the original."
Clyne, who writes and sings all the songs, formed the Peacemakers almost 10 years ago with drummer P.H. Naffah after the dissolution of their successful hit-making combo, The Refreshments. Among that group's most notable accomplishments was writing and recording the theme song for the animated TV program King of the Hill.
The Peacemakers are completed by lead guitarist Steve Larson and bassist Nick Scropos. The group has recorded six full-length albums, including the 2007 release No More Beautiful World, as well as the four-song demo Four Unlike Before, which was released directly through iTunes.
Even before the Turbo Ocho sessions, Mexico often figured into the songs of Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers, including works such as "¡Americano!," "Mexicosis," "Mexican Moonshine," "Your Name on a Grain of Rice" and "Switchblade."
Mexico "represents another kind of freedom for me," Clyne said.
"It's a celebration of life, without all the schedules and clocks and clamor and caterwauling that so perpetuates American lifestyles. Also, for me, the idea of a physical border can be a metaphorical thing to explore. What ultimately makes humanity an irresistible source of stories isn't a line on a map. Mexico allows me to explore that no man's land."
As much as Clyne loves Mexico, he and the Peacemakers haven't abandoned Arizona or the other 49 states.
"I live in Tempe, Arizona, U.S.A.," Clyne declared. "My kids go to school nearby. That's where I hang my Christmas lights and where I mow my lawn."
Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers will play at 8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 16, at the Rialto Theatre, 318 E. Congress St. Advance tickets cost $21; on the day of the show, they'll be $22. All ages are welcome. Call 740-1000 for more information.