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 that vacillated between roots rock, Americana and dessert boogie.
While the only songs that garnered radio attention were “Banditos” and “Down Together” their 1996 album “Fizzy Fuzzy Big and Buzzy” and it’s follow up the next year, were both great records that simply weren’t given a fair shake by the folks that ran their label. 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 that has only managed to grow in popularity album after album, with their own days-long annual music festival across the border in Mexico, all without the help of a record label. They even sell their own brand of tequila.
The bulk of Here’s To Life focuses on the early days of The Refreshments, from when they original went by the ill-conceived moniker All You Can Eat up to their mid- ‘90s heyday. Early on they made inroads in their native Arizona thanks to incessant gigging, but it was a flawless set at South By Southwest that brought the attention of the major labels. The ultimately signed with Mercury and put out their debut.
Told through interviews with Clyne, Naffah, former band member/guitarist Brian Blush, as well as several folks who worked with the band throughout the ‘90s, including MTV’s Matt Pinefield 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 cop.
The doc concludes with Clyne and Naffah leading thousands in spirited nightly sing-alongs at their annual four-day Circus Mexicus 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.
Here’s To Life: The Story of The Refreshments/Blu-Ray + DVD/93 mins./Pop Motion Pictures/2017 / https://www.facebook.com/herestolifemovie/