The Refreshments may be seen by many as a 1990s one-hit wonder, but the band is almost a religion to a smaller, but much more rabid group of music fans. And can you blame them? Roger Clyne and his crew churned out two LPs crammed with a slew of fantastic songs which vacillated between roots rock, Americana and dessert boogie.
While the only songs which garnered radio, attention were “Banditos” and “Down Together” from their 1996 debut album ‘Fizzy Fuzzy Big and Buzzy’ and 1997’s follow up, ‘The Bottle & Fresh Horses,’ were both solid records that simply weren’t given a fair shake by the folks that ran their label, Mercury Records.
Clyne and his longtime drummer P.H. Naffah got the last laugh though as they simply morphed the band into Roger Clyne & The Peacemakers, a stellar, self-supporting outfit which has only managed to grow in popularity album after album. A large part of the bands growth is due to their own annual music festival across the border in Mexico, where they have their own brand of tequila. Who needs a record label?
ON this documentary film, “Here’s to Life: The Story of The Refreshments,” the bulk of the material focuses on the early days of the Refreshments, from when they originally went by the ill-conceived moniker All You Can Eat up to their mid- ‘90s heyday. Early on the band made inroads in their native Arizona thanks to incessant gigging, but it was a flawless set at South by Southwest which brought the attention of the major labels, where they signed with Mercury Records.
Told through interviews with Clyne, Naffah, former band member/guitarist Brian Blush, as well as several who worked with the band throughout the ‘90s, including MTV’s Matt Minefield, who was among the first to champion the band, the doc is a powerful example to perseverance. Although ultimately a love letter to the band and their fans, the filmmakers don’t shy away from covering controversies, like Blush’s drug habit, an issue that got so bad he started draining the band’s shared account and selling instruments to cope.
“Here’s to Life: The Story of The Refreshments” concludes with Clyne and Naffah leading thousands in spirited nightly sing-alongs at their annual four-day Circus Mexico’s Festival in Mexico. The band may have been deserted by their record label, but have found consultation in the form of hundreds of thousands of fans who stuck with the band as they decided to simply go it alone rather than disappear.