Tommy Stinson’s life has been a rock ‘n’ roll fantasy since he was just 11 years old. At that young age he started a band with his brother Bob Stinson and drummer Chris Mars called Dogbreath. Once they added Paul Westerberg to the lineup and changed their name to The Replacements, they went on to be the second-greatest musical force to ever come out of Minneapolis. The Replacements’ went on to record some of the greatest songs and albums in the history of alternative rock.
Following their 1991 breakup, Mr. Stinson went on to form Bash & Pop, a quick and dirty new band that showed a ton of promise but only produced one album and dissolved after just two years. After that came solo CDs and backing up everyone from Soul Asylum to Old 97s. He even spent time as the bass player Guns N’ Roses, a gig he enjoyed until the band reconvened its original core lineup.
Mr. Stinson spoke about the return of Bash & Pop, why The Replacements reunion went on too long, his time in Guns N’ Roses and why he’ll never say never to playing with either band again.
Question: What inspired you to reform Bash & Pop?
Answer: While we were doing the Replacements reunion shows, I had been recording with a bunch of my friends. Doing it live. I wanted to record this new batch of songs differently than I did the last couple of records where I piecemealed them together. I had people come play and record them live, try and capture something, fet a couple good takes and call it good.
It worked out really well. The more I went down that road and started to actually get a band together, so it could be more of a touring band thing, people started telling me it reminded them of a Bash & Pop record. So I kinda thought, “Well, it’s not a Tommy Stinson solo record, so it might as well be a Bash & Pop record.” It had more of a band vibe.
Q: Are any of the original Bash & Pop members are involved?
A: No. Well two of them have died — the bass player (Kevin Foley) and the drummer (Steve Foley). And honestly, when we made the first Bash & Pop record, it was basically just me and the drummer anyway. This time around, this is actually more of a band than that was.
Q: Was this album easier to make than a solo CD?
A: When you’re making a solo record on your own, you are piecing it together and really fussing over the songs a whole lot more than you need to be because you’re playing all the instruments, doing this and that. I wanted something quick and immediate.
Through doing it live, a lot of the songs turned out more rock ‘n’ roll. I guess that’s probably why people are saying it’s a Bash & Pop record.
Q: How did the record come together?
A: It came together on some quick weekends. I’d have guys come up to my studio for the weekend, and we would cut five or six songs. We did that a bunch of times last year. Plus, I recorded some other songs for a future Bash & Pop EP. I think it’s more consistently a rootsy record.
On my solo records I tend to get more experimental. I also tend to overthink things. Things get a little too precious when I do it like that. The mantra here is “Play the f***ing song and play it well.”
Q: Why did you decide to give a portion of the album proceeds to a trade school in Haiti?
A: I had a bad experience trying to help after Hurricane Kartrina. I sent some money to the Red Cross and was really disappointed on how that entire thing panned out.
After the earthquake in Haiti, I had seen so many reports of the disaster. I went over there to see for myself how I could help. I saw this school called Timkatec. It’s a trade school for homeless abandoned kids. They school them, house them the best they can and turn them out with a trade — whether it’s plumbing, electrical or masonry.
Sadly, the earthquake made the desperate need there continue. These Haitian kids are learning these trades, and they are trades they need to rebuild Haiti. Because Haiti is … decimated.
Q: Let me ask you a couple Replacements questions.
A: If you must. [laughs]
Q: Are you glad you did the reunion, and what did you get out of that tour?
A: I’m glad we did it. I think it made a lot of people happy. We obviously got paid well for doing it. I think we might have stretched it out too long. It might have been better to get out a little sooner, just because of our nature.
Q: Did you guys try to record any new Replacements music?
A: We recorded on three different occasions and couldn’t make anything happen. Mainly because we recorded at places that weren’t even suitable for what we were trying to do. Trying to make a live record like we used to do, like I just made, in overdub studios.
Made zero … sense, but no on listened to me. [laughs] No one wanted to hear it. No one wanted to ask the tough questions. That was that. Done.
Q: Are you also done playing with Guns N’ Roses for good?
A: I never say never to either [band]. I just know right now I’m looking at a lot of other things I’d rather be doing than working for someone else.