The band — Phillip Peeples, Murry Hammond, Rhett Miller and Ken Bethea — is celebrating its 20th anniversary with an album that returns the group to its garage-rock roots.

Murry Hammond  is living the rock ’n’ roll dream.

He’s going to be 50 years old in a few months and hasn’t worked a day job since he left a barbecue catering gig in 1996.

He plays bass guitar in a rock band that twists the punk rock of his youth with country-leaning folk. It plays a steady stream of gigs all over the country — including a show Tuesday at the Rialto Theatre — and record all with very little rehearsal or work involved.

No boss. No timecard. No pressure.

Yep, the dream.

“In the world of j-o-b, this isn’t like other j-o-b-s. This is f-u-n,” he joked during a phone interview last week to catch up on what the band has been up to since it was here last in 2011.

On Tuesday, Old 97’s released “Most Messed Up,” their 10th studio album in a career that started in 1993 in Dallas.

“It’s about as 100 percent pure Old 97’s as we’ve done in a while,” Hammond said. “It’s kind of an autobiographical record for our singer (Rhett Miller). There’s a lot of rough stuff subjectwise.

“It just kind of naturally leaned a little more into the garage than maybe some other stuff that we’ve done recently. … This is kind of a special record. It’s live. There is nothing between us and the music on this record.”

It sounds like it returns you to your original mission.

“I’m always jumping up and down trying to get us to return to our original mission.

“And we mostly are pretty close to it. We like doing a lot of different things musically, and there’s not always a clear moment where it becomes sort of purified in that way. But this is one of those moments.”

What was the mission?

“There was no mission. We could almost play our instruments. We kind of naturally did this combination of roots music and stuff from our punk-rock past.

“It was very natural to combine them; it wasn’t a conscious thing at all. And that ended up being the mission. The mission was to ignore the rest of the world and do what we did well together.”

How did you land in the alt-country bin?

“I think whenever there is any kind of roots influence in music, it becomes a ‘roots-hyphen’ whatever. That country thing is so noticeable that it ends up being the thing that hands out the hyphen to whatever is going on.

“I think more than anything, we are sort of in that garage-punk sort of thing.”

And what about your live shows? You guys really never rehearse?

“We don’t like to rehearse. When we first started this band, I always pushed (for rehearsals). I thought that was what we got to do to get kind of good right off the bat. That was the very last time that we did any kind of rehearsing at all. We burned out in 1994, and we never really liked doing it again.”

What are your live shows like?

“They are extremely energetic. … And we’ve been told they are awfully loud.

“You can’t tell on stage, but every once in a while, I’ll see a Facebook post from an old fart saying we played too loud.”

I cover music for the Arizona Daily Star.