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Welcome to Appetite for Discussion -- a Guns N' Roses fan forum!

Please feel free to look around the forum as a guest, I hope you will find something of interest. If you want to join the discussions or contribute in other ways then you need to become a member. We especially welcome anyone who wants to share documents for our archive or would be interested in translating or transcribing articles and interviews.

Registering is free and easy.


2012.06.23 - Jerusalem Post - More Than A Guns & Roses 'Replacement' (Tommy)

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Post by Soulmonster Thu Jul 05, 2012 8:26 am

More than a Guns & Roses ‘replacement’
06/23/2012 23:19

Tommy Stinson chortles into the phone in his Berlin hotel room earlier this month. He’s just been asked if he considers his role as bass player in Guns & Roses to be his “day job.”

“Funny you should say that right now,” he continued, laughing, alluding to the travails of life on the road and the famed American hard rock band’s most recent show two days earlier at the 02 Arena in London.

Members of the audience, angered at perennially tardy front man Axl Rose causing an hour’s delay, threw objects onstage when the band finally appeared. A miffed Stinson yelled into the microphone, “If you throw any f****g thing on stage, we’ll go home.”

The show eventually calmed down to normal G&R bedlam level, marred only the next day when Rose reported that valuable jewelry had been stolen from his dressing room (It was later returned by an overzealous fan).

“Well, you know, goofy shit happens on tour.

There’s always something,” said Stinson. He admitted, however, that in the infancy of G&R’s summer tour, which will see the band performing in Israel at Park Hayarkon on July 3, he was having a rough start.

“It’s not an easy gig, let’s put it that way. It’s tough to maintain your equilibrium and get your gig legs on again after being off the road for a while,” said Stinson. “I wasn’t really ready to be touring again, but you kind of figure it out – after all, this is what we chose for an occupation.”

Stinson’s definitely a lifer as far as music goes – he’s been a professional musician, on tour or in the studio, for 30 of his 45 years, first in the 1980s as cofounder (at age 13) and bassist for legendary Minneapolis rockers The Replacements, then as front man for his own roots rock bands like Bash and Pop and Perfect, and today, juggling a comfortable maverick solo career. He took on his Guns & Roses bass player and onstage foil for Rose in 1998, years after the first incarnation of G&R, featuring the controversial singer and Slash, had disintegrated.

“I’ve been in Guns & Roses longer than any band I’ve ever been in. I have passion for it as well as [for] my own career – I love them both,” he said.

With spiked hair, a skinny build and an effervescent attitude, Stinson has long personified the rambunctious rock & roll spirit. Famed producer and session musician Jim Dickinson, who played piano on The Rolling Stones’ song “Wild Horses” and produced the 1987 landmark album by The Replacements, Pleased to Meet Me, once said, “There are people who say Keith Richards is the walking embodiment of rock & roll, but it’s really Tommy Stinson.”

Stinson said he never did quite figure out what Dickinson meant, but treated it as a compliment.

But today, however, Stinson is not feeling very rock & roll – he’s feeling his offstage middle age.

“At 45, the touring around the world stuff is getting a little old, and I’m getting tired,” he said. Then realizing how it probably sounded, he quickly added, “I’m not going to complain about it, it’s a good job if you can get it, and I got it. But traveling is just not as attractive as it was when I was a kid.”

Traveling as a kid didn’t mean the luxury hotels, jets and amenities afforded him today as one of rock’s top touring attractions – it meant primarily being holed up in no-frills, smoky vans or buses with The Replacements. While it may not have been the optimal environment for an impressionable teenager, Stinson said the alternatives might have been worse.

“To some degree, I feel I missed out on my childhood – I grew up real quick, and sometimes I feel a bit of remorse,” said Stinson, who grew up in Minneapolis tagging along after his older brother Bob.

“But I was kind of heading down a bad road when my brother taught me how to play bass. I was already getting into lots of trouble, and [if] he hadn’t done that, I would have been a disastrous teen – I wasn’t headed to the prom, let me put it that way.”

HE WAS headed to a modicum of rock stardom, however, as his guitar-playing brother asked him to join the band he was forming with fellow Minneapolis teens Westerberg and drummer Chris Mars.

As notorious during their decade together for their alcohol-fueled behavior and ramshackle shows as they were for their ragged but stellar albums filled with brilliant songs penned by guitarist/singer Paul Westerberg, the Mats, as they were called by their legions of faithful fans, never achieved the mainstream and commercial success equal to their critical acclaim.

Stinson attributed it to their stubborn refusal to play the show business game in an era in which most bands were assembly line, MTV-groomed.

“I don’t know if we would have been the biggest band in the world, but a lot of our actions were selfdefeating, much of it really silliness about being contrary to everyone because we didn’t want to conform,” said Stinson. “A lot that was asked of us that didn’t feel right, we simply didn’t do. In the end, that comes back to get you in the ass, especially when you’re dealing with a major record label.”

Still, they were labeled “the last great band of the 1980s” by Musician magazine in a late 1980s cover story, prompting a miffed Jon Bon Jovi to huff, “who the hell are The Replacements?” And today, you can’t read an edition of Rolling Stone or Pop Matters without a Replacements reference being used to describe a new album by any young, heart-on-their-sleeve guitar band.

Despite their darling status among rock historians, Stinson doesn’t expect the band to ever be nominated for membership in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

“If we did, I probably wouldn’t pay much mind to it. It’s like the Grammys – we were nominated for one at some point, and we didn’t think much of that either,” he said.

Whereas contemporaries like The Pixies have cashed in on reunion tours, Stinson predicted that despite lucrative offers, the cockeyed integrity that summarized The Replacement years, along with too many X factors (brother Bob died in 1994, drummer Mars is a successful painter, guitarist Slim Dunlap suffered a stroke recently, and the reclusive Westerberg remains holed up in his Minneapolis home, sporadically releasing basement recordings) would prevent any regrouping of the band. He disclosed, though, that he and Westerberg were collaborating on a track for a compilation of Dunlap songs to raise funds for his rehab.

“Paul and I always end up doing things together, but I don’t think there’s any point to a reunion,” said Stinson. “There’s such baggage, more so for Paul. I still think he’s a little bummed out his career didn’t skyrocket after the Mats broke up. He’s had to deal with competing with his past, and for him it was kind of tough.”

Not that the always-moving Stinson would ever find the time for another project. In addition to his G&R role, he joined his old Minneapolis friends Soul Asylum as a bassist on tours and their most recent album, and he recently released his second solo album, One Man Mutiny, an endearing hodgepodge of acoustic countryish tracks, Faces-like rockers and engaging duets with his fiancée, singer Emily Roberts.

“Working with Emily is a work in progress,” said Stinson. “I always loved the sound on those old Kinks records, with a female singing way in the back.

It had a shimmering quality and I kind of wanted that. It definitely adds something different than I have ever done before.”

THE COMFORTABLE, unassuming charm of the album is typified by the acoustic title song, which was recorded using a piano in a Belgium hotel restaurant during a 2010 G&R tour, with band mates Dizzy Reed and Richard Fortus.

“We played it a couple times and rolled the tape. I was traveling with my computer set up for recording, and we did it quick and flat-out,” said Stinson.

A portion of the net proceeds from the sale of the album is earmarked for the Timkatec Schools in Haiti, damaged in the 2010 earthquake. Stinson visited the country last year and has adopted the schools as his pet project, holding an on-line auction and raising over $40,000 for the schools, which have housed and provided skilled trade education for abandoned and orphaned youths in the Pétionville district of Port-au-Prince for over 10 years.

“I saw what had happened in that country and it just kind of got to me,” said Stinson. “My manager and I visited and got hooked up with the school. I met the kids and fell in love with them. I wanted to do something meaningful, not just throw money to the Red Cross. What I can do for the school will go a long way, it’s one of those things that I can do, and it comes easy for me to give back.”

So much so, that on the afternoon before Guns & Roses’ infamous London show at the beginning of the month, Stinson announced via Twitter and Facebook that was going to perform on a street corner near the arena to raise funds for the schools. He and local British guitarist Matt Ryder busked for nearly an hour, with passersby throwing nearly $500 into their open guitar cases.

“It was awesome,” said Stinson. “I kind of threw it out there to see who would bite. I had never done that before, but always had this romantic notion of what it would be like to go busking, so I fulfilled that one. And we raised 317 pounds, just for standing on a street corner singing. That’s not bad.”

Stinson said that he’s considering repeating his street corner performance while he’s in Israel for the first time next month, or perhaps even play an unannounced guerrilla show in a club, most likely in Jerusalem, if his schedule allows. Maybe now, it’s becoming a little clearer what Jim Dickinson was talking about when he said that Tommy Stinson was rock & roll.
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