Tommy Stinson Talks Guns N' Roses, The Replacements and Going Solo
Back in the drunken glory days of the Replacements, not many people would have described bassist Tommy Stinson as hardworking. But hell, he was still in his teens. Now 45, Stinson has developed a work ethic that is damn near impossible to fathom. Besides being the full-time bassist in Guns N' Roses and Soul Asylum, Stinson has somehow found time to work in a solo career.
Your new solo album, One Man Mutiny, is only your second effort since 2004's Village Gorilla Head. Did you have a huge backlog of songs?
Yes, I just kind of collect stuff as I go along. I finish stuff when I have the time. The new album is a culmination of a bunch of years. I keep stuff that is not quite ready to be let out of the bag. There is stuff that has sat around for years. "Destroy Me" is from 19 years ago when I moved to L.A. Stuff just kind of works its way around.
When you were finally putting the tracks together for the album, did it feel like something special?
Yes, it totally did because it featured the first duet I had ever done ["Meant to Be"] with my wife singing on it. It was kind of difficult to get it all lined up. When I was putting it all together, I went, "Wow, I really like this a lot."
I suppose you play the entire album during the show. What fills out the set list?
We play some Bash and Pop and a little Perfect and some songs from my other solo record.
Who is in the band?
I have a guy from Dallas, Marc Solomon. The guy owns Zounds Music. He played in Perfect. My wife is singing back up and I am playing bass. My father-in-law is also in the band. It's kind of a family affair.
You started playing bass when you were 11. Did you have any bass heroes as a kid?
The first one I can remember is Chris Squire from Yes. My brother [Bob] really cranked that crap out on me. I still like listening to Yes. It reminds me of him.
During the last Guns N' Roses tour, you sang "My Generation." Is that a fun bass solo to do?
I am a huge Who fan and that just kind of came out of nowhere. I think Axel started introducing me one night like I was going to do some kind of bass solo. We started doing that song during rehearsals and then we busted it out for shows. It became kind of a thing, but then it went away for a while. I kept thinking why the fuck am I doing a bass solo in the middle of a Guns N' Roses show? I got bored doing that and "Sonic Reducer," so I started doing my own song, "Motivation." The rest of the band prompted me to do it. I still feel weird doing one of my songs in the middle of a Guns N' Roses show.
Last year's Guns N' Roses tour got great reviews. Considering all the criticism the band has gotten over the years, did the tour validate this version?
There are always going to be naysayers. You can't really worry about that. Now, I am leading my band and playing these club shows and the press has been great. We are having a good time. It's just a fun, rocking show. We don't worry about what people think.
Is anyone yelling out Replacements songs?
The seminal effort from the Replacements is Let It Be. That album has been on many top 100 albums of all time lists. Does that kind of freak you out?
I never ever would have thought that would happen. But hey, it's cool. I am glad we left something people still like.
Do you have a favorite Replacements album?
It would be either Tim or All Shook Down. All Shook Down had the best Paul [Westerberg] songs. They were very well written.
Do you keep in touch with Paul and the other members?
Yes, I just talked with Paul and I talk with Chris [Mars] every once in a while. Paul and I were talking last week about [guitarist] Slim [Dunlop] and how he isn't doing that well right now. He had a stroke a few weeks ago. He is on the mend, but he's has a long way ahead of him.
Are you still planning to record and tour with Soul Asylum?
I am getting booked up with GNR stuff from May to July. They are talking about doing the States again, but I don't know how that is going to work out. If I can find some time, I want to play with Soul Asylum. I love playing with those guys. I just got my final mix of what the new album is going to sound like. I helped make that record and I think it's pretty good.
Back when you were in the Replacements, did you guys make fun of Guns N' Roses?
A little bit, yes. I know I wasn't a big fan.
The Replacements became known for being drunk on and off stage. Was that an exaggeration?
Sadly, it was not. That was our reality back then. We were crazy. We were young and caught in our own little ways. I am glad that people still like the records.
Do you think the drunkenness resulted in people not taking the band seriously?
Yes, I think so. But I get tired of people looking at just that aspect of the band. I have a lot of people who come up to me and tell me we played the best show they ever saw and that we were so hammered. That kind of sounds like they were robbed to me. I want to be remembered for the songs.
Tommy Stinson performs with The Biters and Nate Fowler's Elixir tonight at Double Wide.