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APPETITE FOR DISCUSSION
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.

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2023.06.08 - Forbes - Tommy Stinson On Cowboys In The Campfire Debut, Economic Benefit Of Unconventional Touring

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2023.06.08 - Forbes - Tommy Stinson On Cowboys In The Campfire Debut, Economic Benefit Of Unconventional Touring Empty 2023.06.08 - Forbes - Tommy Stinson On Cowboys In The Campfire Debut, Economic Benefit Of Unconventional Touring

Post by Soulmonster Sun Jun 11, 2023 6:54 am

Tommy Stinson On Cowboys In The Campfire Debut, Economic Benefit Of Unconventional Touring

Jim Ryan
Contributor
I write about the business of music


A name like Cowboys In The Campfire carries with it an almost inherent reference to the concept of storytelling, a phrase which conjures up a mental image of tales told around the fire.

It’s an idea that lies at the heart of the new album Wronger, the studio debut by Cowboys In The Campfire, a duo comprised of Replacements bassist Tommy Stinson and songwriter/guitarist Chip Roberts.

“I’ve always kind of written that way. And some of my favorite songwriters - whether it’s a Tom Waits or a Bob Dylan - there’s always a good storyline, whether it’s made up or otherwise,” said Stinson during a recent phone conversation. “I’ve always been a proponent of that. I kind of grew up that way. The Replacements, I think a lot of the music that we wrote told a story in a way. Whether it was true or not is always a wink, wink nudge, nudge kind of thing. But I’ve always kind of preferred that - sort of a mini movie if you will.”

Stinson and Roberts have toured under the moniker for years, working together in between various projects where possible on new music with Wronger, now available on CD, vinyl and streaming services via Cobraside, growing out of initial recording sessions in Austin, Texas that featured John Doe of seminal L.A. punks X.

“Where this record really got its start to be frank with you, I think it must’ve been 2016 or 2017 when we found ourselves in Austin, Texas, where my friend Christine Smith had this studio,” said Stinson. “When we went there, John Doe had just moved there. And he was kind enough to offer to play bass and sing on it. So we went and did the session with her producing it as a three piece: upright, me and Chip. And we did five songs on the record in that studio, which is what we based the rest of the record around,” he explained. “Those songs would be ‘Fall Apart Together,’ ‘Mr. Wrong,’ Hey Man,’ ‘Karma’s Bitch’ and ‘We Ain’t.’ We went, ‘OK, we’re gonna make a record around this.’”

The result is a batch of ten polished pop gems that are impossible to pigeonhole. Stinson on ukulele alongside a horn section kicks things off on “Here We Go Again” while “That’s It” maintains a rollicking rockabilly vibe. “Mr. Wrong” and “Fall Apart Together” draw from the storytelling history of the country music tradition, both tracks where Roberts shines on pedal steel guitar. “Dream” closes the album in the form of an uplifting acoustic anthem, wrapping up an eclectic but cohesive collection of new material.

“These are the things that I always leave in the capable hands of my executive producer, which has always been Peter Jesperson. I always take my records to him,” said Stinson of the Twin/Tone Records co-founder and longtime cohort. “A lot of times I just take the songs to him before I even start making a record, just to get his take on stuff. He’s always been that non-judgmental, supportive ear for me. And his son Autry is getting into the racket as we call it these days. He’s going to school for this kind of stuff. So I had both of them be my executive producer. And they were the ones that sequenced it.”

From day one, Cowboys In The Campfire has been something Stinson and Roberts have been able to push forward on their own terms.

Many Cowboys gigs have taken place in backyards, with the duo embracing storytelling as they present the project in some of the most intimate settings Stinson has played in decades, allowing the influential rocker to capitalize on the concept of immediacy.

“It’s exactly on my terms. And I can do as much or as little as I want,” said Stinson of his current approach to the road. “With conventional records, it’s like, artist starts making record. ‘OK. We’re gonna put this out in a year. Then we’re gonna do these dates and this festival next year.’ I can’t really think like that. So I make a record and when the record’s done, I go, ‘OK. Let’s go play in a couple months. Let’s start rehearsing and go play some shows.’ So I’m on a whole different time trajectory, which this allows me to do. And lucky for me, I can pull that out of my hat and book small, intimate gigs, go out and have fun with it.”

Recent tours have seen Stinson perform everywhere from libraries to living rooms and Cowboys live dates resume Friday, June 9, 2023 with a backyard show in Riverton, New Jersey. It’s part of an outing running through July (with more dates to come) that’s set to stop at venues like Swing Barrel Brewing in Moorhead, Minnesota on July 2, LÜFT Rooftop Bar in Bismarck, North Dakota on July 3 and a cave (“yes, literally inside a cave” as his website specifies) on July 4 in Rapid City, Iowa.

With physical sales of recorded music on a steep decline over the past two decades amidst the rise of file sharing and online streaming, many artists have been forced to rely on live performance as their primary revenue stream. But thanks to pandemic-induced inflation, touring has become notoriously difficult for independent artists. More and more traditional venues have also begun requesting a cut of the merchandise sold by artists during concerts, combined factors which make it hard to turn a significant profit on the road.

As he heads back out on the road, Stinson finds considerable economic benefit in embracing unconventional venues, eliminating middlemen and dealing directly with fans.

“If I play clubs, I make about a third of what I make doing these gigs this way,” he asserted. “The way we’re touring right now is as a three piece. We’ve got a minimal amount of gear. I’ve still got an agent. And I still have management. They get a cut. But, ultimately, this is very price effective for me. I don’t have to go out and tour for a month straight to make my living. I can go out and do two weeks, ten days here and there, when I want. And it works out for me better that way. Especially because I have a 15 year old daughter that I’m also looking after,” said Stinson. “As I talk to you right now, just even doing interviews, I’ve got a publicist that’s got to hook up with you that I’ve got to hook up to my record company. All of this stuff, any time you can trim the fat, you’re getting more to what I can handle and more of what I want to do,” he said. “It makes everything a lot easier.”

For Stinson, a crucial component for Cowboys In The Campfire has been the idea of fun, one which oozes from each of the new album’s infectious ten tracks.

As Wronger propels the group from side project to primary focus, the goal for Stinson is keeping it fun.

“We live well. And we play our shows - but we’re not killing ourselves out there. And that keeps it fun. And that’s the whole point of it: to have fun,” he said. “I can pay my bills. And it all works out really great for me this way. And the fans see that. They see that when I come to the shows and they’re able to talk and hang out and ask questions,” Stinson continued. “I think that, for me, the whole ‘rock star’ thing is long gone from my vocabulary. I am just stoked to still be able to do what I do and go out and have fun with it. And do it on my own terms.”

Source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/jimryan1/2023/06/08/tommy-stinson-on-cowboys-in-the-campfire-debut-economic-benefit-of-unconventional-touring/?sh=406bfa5d6735
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