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SoulMonster

2002.11.14 - Interview with Tommy

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2002.11.14 - Interview with Tommy

Post by Soulmonster on Thu May 10, 2012 1:43 am

Praising a heavy-metal icon is the last thing one would expect of a punk rocker, let alone local hero Tommy Stinson of the Replacements, whose brand of loose garage rock put the Twin Cities on the map in the '80s.

But apparently praise is all Stinson has for Axl Rose, frontman for the rock outfit Guns N' Roses, with whom Stinson has been playing bass the past four years.

"[Axl] is a lot bigger than I ever really thought about when I got into this," said Stinson, who will perform with the band tonight at Target Center. "He is such a huge star. Even 10 years after the last tour, people are still dying to see him up there. It's really impressive and crazy."

What's impressive is that Guns N' Roses is touring at all. This latest outing marks the band's first major concert series in 10 years, a decade in which pop music styles have whisked swiftly past the era of teased hair with no major releases from GNR in between.

After the huge public exits of marquee guitarists Slash and Izzy Stradlin, Axl Rose kicked out — or forced out — the remaining GNR roster and withdrew from the public eye, taking on the image of a music producer who had gone the route of celebrity hermit William Randolph Hearst.

When Axl did make it out, he was usually overweight and hairier than ZZ Top, talking about the ever-changing lineup for the forthcoming "Chinese Democracy" album— a lineup consisting of punk bassist Stinson; ex-Primus drummer Brain; Robin Finck, formerly of Nine Inch Nails; and others, including a masked avant-garde guitarist who wears a KFC pail for a hat and goes by the name Buckethead.

With that maddeningly eclectic group (and rumors that the reclusive Rose was a tyrant with whom Interscope Records was locked into a contract), many doubted that Guns N' Roses would go on.

But Stinson, who describes the studio collaboration with the musicians as "magical," tells of a much different experience with Axl.

"I'm probably way more of a control freak than he is," Stinson said in a phone interview. "I know him as someone who's easy to work with, someone I like working with. If I were to compare him to anyone else, I would say he's one of the easier people I've had to work with in my years, you know what I mean... ?"

That not so subtle barb was directed toward former Replacements singer Paul Westerberg, with whom Stinson seems to be publicly feuding.

No doubt, Stinson is still smarting over his former bandmate's recent comments in newspapers and magazines deriding him for joining Guns N' Roses, whose glam-rock image and bloated musical approach seem the antithesis of punk.

In an article in the Star Tribune last week, Westerberg was quoted as saying: "People don't move to Los Angeles to be a musician or a songwriter. They go to be a star. That's what Tommy is doing... "

The remark and others like it haven't sat well with Stinson, who moved to California shortly after his group Perfect went bust in 1997. He began jamming with GNR after mutual friends introduced them the next year.

"[Westerberg]'s gone out on a limb to say a bunch of nonsense that's made me look bad, that's made Axl look bad, that's made him [Axl] feel bad... . It's just lame," Stinson said. "It's really unnecessary, for one. I don't appreciate it, and Axl doesn't deserve any of it."

With a recent Westerberg tour and rumors that his old bassist teamed up with him on the latest Westerberg album, many in the Twin Cities rock community have been hoping for a reunion of the punks who put Minnesota on the map. Stinson's statements, however, don't sound encouraging.

He maintains that he is not in an exclusive contract with Guns N' Roses and can record with anyone he chooses but that a Replacements reunion is now out of the question for both professional and personal reasons.

"This is my priority, and my other priority is the rest of my life. It was never a possibility of doing a Replacement reunion while I was in Guns N' Roses, and I'm in this for a while," he said. "And I tell you right now, there ain't going to be one. As a matter of fact, there will not be a Replacements reunion ever.

"He [Westerberg] blew it."
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