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2003.09.14 - The New York Times - A Night Out With Tommy Stinson

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2003.09.14 - The New York Times - A Night Out With Tommy Stinson Empty 2003.09.14 - The New York Times - A Night Out With Tommy Stinson

Post by Blackstar on Thu Jun 04, 2020 2:21 pm

A NIGHT OUT WITH -- Tommy Stinson; A Rock Legend 24 Years

By Hugo Lindgren

A ROCK band trying to sound something like the Replacements flailed away noisily onstage, but Tommy Stinson, an original Replacement, was having none of it. Pinned against a wall, he shielded himself behind the fronds of a palmlike tree. Whatever he was saying could not be heard, but he made himself clear with smirks and scowls.

This was a party for GQ magazine on a recent Thursday, in a fashionable warehouse in the West 20's in Manhattan. Mr. Stinson, 36, had been lured by a rumor that the ''surprise musical guest'' on the invitation would be the Strokes, but he had his doubts. ''It's never who you hope it's going to be,'' he said en route. ''It will probably be someone awful like the Star Spangles.''

As luck would have it, that's who it was, the Star Spangles, a band of callow retro-rock stylists, and Mr. Stinson was so pleased that he had guessed correctly that he stuck around for a few songs.

Mr. Stinson has been a rock legend since, at age 12, he joined the Replacements, Minneapolis's hardest-drinking band. The other members, including his brother, Bob, now dead, were a half-dozen years older. Young Tommy Stinson was the blithe, uncomplicated counterpoint to the deeply complicated songwriter Paul Westerberg; he was the punk-rock Danny Partridge.

Mr. Stinson still has excellent rock-star hair, and he needs it because he is now the bass player for Guns N' Roses. While he (and everyone) waits for Axl Rose, the leader, to finish his eternally delayed album, Mr. Stinson decided to do a minitour with a garage band he loves, the Figgs. That's what brought him to New York from Los Angeles.

On the phone, he had asked what plans he should make. ''I should bring a girl, right?'' he said. Told yes, he procured a date. There was one problem: The woman who showed up in the Dylan Hotel lobby was not the one he thought he had called. But after awkward moments, they were best pals and heading for dinner at Cafe Orlin in the East Village.

The woman was Caroline Taucher, 25, a Finn who had split from an all-girl band in Stockholm and had moved to New York. She earned Mr. Stinson's everlasting affection by admitting that she had never heard a Replacements song. ''They are not much like Depeche Mode,'' she said. ''I know that.'' But she had seen Mr. Stinson once perform a few of his own songs and had loved it.

After dinner and the Star Spangles, Mr. Stinson, arm in arm on the street with Ms. Taucher, took out a cellphone the size of a shoe. Passers-by glanced curiously.

''Only in New York do I get looks for my phone,'' he said. He retains his Midwestern outlook by rejecting both coasts' status symbols. He lives in Burbank but does not have a car, even a driver's license. ''I take the bus,'' he said. ''It rocks.''

On the way down to Niagara, an East Village bar owned by a friend, Mr. Stinson and Ms. Taucher engaged in cross-cultural one-upmanship. ''You would love Finland,'' she said. ''It's the land of a thousand lakes.'' He fired back: ''Minnesota is the land of 10,000 lakes. What else has Finland got?'' She replied: ''Vodka and cute little cellphones.''

At Niagara, Mr. Stinson ordered a Guinness, then another. His friend Richard Fortus, a Guns N' Roses member, stopped by with his girlfriend, and the rockers briefly commiserated about ''going back on Axl's clock'' in Los Angeles. But Mr. Stinson conceded that he had nothing to complain about. Paying for everybody's drinks, he recalled how when his post-Replacements career was fizzling he had become a telemarketer. The boy wonder of indie rock was, at 30, selling toner on the phone: ''I was great at it. Made more money than I ever had from music.''

Axl Rose rescued him from toner, inspiring a fierce loyalty. ''People say I sold out when I joined Guns N' Roses,'' Mr. Stinson said. ''But I've never met anyone who cares less about what people think.''

The opening chords of the Replacements classic ''Bastards of Young'' came over the speakers, a greeting from the D.J.

''This happens,'' Mr. Stinson said blankly, as if just discovering he was the punchline of a joke.

''Do you hate it?'' he was asked.

''No,'' Mr. Stinson said. ''But I could live without it.'' AC/DC came on next, and his spirits soared.

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