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2011.08.XX - Interview with Tommy in

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2011.08.XX - Interview with Tommy in Empty 2011.08.XX - Interview with Tommy in

Post by Soulmonster on Tue Aug 16, 2011 9:06 am

It's been 20 years since The Replacements disbanded, and despite a few iffy rumors that it might happen, there's been no concrete evidence that a reunion is even close to happening.

Yet Tommy Stinson, the band's bassist, says he still gets asked about it almost every single day.

Part of that is Stinson's fault. During an interview last week from his home in Hudson, N.Y., he noted that the Minneapolis-bred band, arguably one of the most important of the last 30 years, never really broke up in the first place. "We just kind of walked away from it," he said. "It's always sitting there."

He'd already fanned the flames on July 8 by ending a website post about current projects, shows and other odds and ends with this little note: "There is more. I'm just not at liberty to say what it is, or isn't, or could be, or might be, OR MAY NEVER BE."

Last week's chat mainly kept to the subject of Stinson's excellent forthcoming solo album, "One Man Mutiny," and his tour that will bring him to West Chester, Pa.'s The Note on Saturday.

But fans will want to know: Did that little note mean that he and Paul Westerberg have discussed putting together a band, and maybe even one that includes drummer Chris Mars and guitarist Slim Dunlap? Stinson wouldn't give in.

But he also didn't swat the whole thing away, either.

"You know what, the flames are feeding themselves," he said. "I'm just the voice. I mean, there's always stuff that gets talked about that I don't want to elaborate on, 'cuz, you know, it either does or doesn't happen. I just hate to be the one that says it's gonna happen, the thing's gonna happen, and then have it not happen."

So what's standing in the way? Contrary to rumors that have been circulating since Stinson joined Guns 'N' Roses to record the odyssey that was "Chinese Democracy," it's got nothing to do with Axl Rose.

"I never signed anything with Guns 'N' Roses that prevented me from doing anything with Paul," he said. "I don't know where that came from. The only one preventing me from doing that really is Paul."

This is the kind of talk that gets Replacements' fans salivating and reading stories like this and, eventually, plugged in to what Stinson's been up to.

And considering what he's been doing for the people of Haiti, they should be.

Last year, Stinson donated $50,000 to Timkatec, a trade school for kids left abandoned and homeless by the 2010 earthquake, by auctioning autographed personal items like basses and plaid suits he wore while with The Replacements and his bands Bash & Pop and Perfect. This year, he's donating half of the proceeds from "One Man Mutiny," which comes out Aug. 30, to the same school.

"They still need so much help. I mean, they don't even have a ruling government. They're just struggling," said Stinson, who has also been playing with fellow Minny band Soul Asylum. "Before the earthquake they were the third-poorest country in the world, so I just want to help out as much as I can, and I have the ability to do that with this record."

Those who buy the record will be rewarded for their contribution to the cause, as "One Man Mutiny" is a 10-song gem that blends the two extremes of Stinson's recorded output. You can hear shades of the polished pop of Bash & Pop's "Friday Night Is Killing Me," his first post-Replacements effort. There's also plenty of the more ramshackle rock produced by his second band, Perfect, on their 1996 EP "When Squirrels Play Chicken" and the ill-fated "Seven Days a Week" album -- masterfully produced by the late Jim Dickinson, who also helmed classics by The Replacements and Big Star. (A version of "Seven Days" was released as "Once, Twice, Three Times a Maybe" in 2004.)

But at its core the album is just Tommy Stinson, the same guy who joined The Replacements when he was in 10th grade, and the same 44-year-old guy who often has his fiancée Emily in his live band and the studio. "Don't Deserve You" and "It's A Drag" are sneering, smack-talking middle fingers that the snot-nosed Stinson might have worked on with Westerberg during The Replacements' peak, while "Seize the Moment" and "Meant to Be" are more mature slices of power pop. The latter is a near-perfect would-be single chosen by Stinson and his PR people to surf the web and promote "One Man Mutiny."

"I don't really think I strayed too far from my roots in anything," he said. "Not that it's a comfort zone, but I like to rock, I like interesting pop structures and things like that."

The album features contributions from Gersh, who played drums with Stinson in Perfect, and Dizzy Reed, the keyboard player for Guns 'N' Roses. And speaking of GNR, Stinson recently returned from another massive tour with them in Europe, a jaunt stacked with shows featuring fireworks, canyon-wide stages, a forrest of towering amps and a supersized lineup boasting a three-guitar attack.

"It's a little over the top, yeah. Big rock fun. It's a lot of work. It's a monster to get going. It's not an easy gig, I'll tell you that."

It also probably wasn't easy to endure Rose's off-kilter behavior in the late 1990s and early 2000s, which resulted in cancelled shows and starts and stops in recording for the "Chinese Democracy" album, which came out in 2008. In fact, when Stinson joined up with Axl in 1996, it was a complete head-scratcher for long-time Replacements fans.

"I never really was thinking that's where I'd want to go necessarily. It was almost sort of like the best thing for me at that time. I really just wanted to play bass for someone for awhile and take the stress of being a lead guy off myself, and also it seemed like about the most punk rock thing I could get involved with at the time. Axl was really trying to do something that no one had done or made a success out of before.

"Not that 'Chinese Democracy' was necessarily a huge success, but I think in a lot of ways it was, because it came out and, you know, people bought it."

Despite the fun and exposure of being in a behemoth of a band like GNR, Stinson is glad to be getting back to the more personal vibe he gets in smaller clubs like The Note, which is at 142 E. Market St. in West Chester. Tickets are $8 in advance and $10 on the day of the show. Dave House of The Loved Ones and American Babies open up Saturday's show at 9 p.m.

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