Whether he's on his own, playing with Soul Asylum or touring with Guns N' Roses,Tommy Stinson doesn't have any trouble finding gigs. The founding member of theReplacements is on the road with Axl Rose and co. now, and recently released a solo album, 'One Man Mutiny,' which features some country-tinged punk tracks and his wife Emily on backing vocals.
But, as with many members of legendary broken-up bands, Stinson constantly -- and readily -- fields questions about the Replacements. In a candid chat with Spinner, he spoke about his new album, his relationship with Mats singer Paul Westerberg and what it would take for a reunion to happen.
You recorded the title track of 'One Man Mutiny' in a hotel?
Yeah, it was the Conrad Hotel in Brussels, Belgium. The song kind of came from the odd things I wrote when I was determined on that last European run to write some music while I was out there. I had enough downtime to make that happen, if I made myself do it. And that song came from an inner bus dispute between me and a couple of other guys. It was a funny thing and by the time we got into Brussels it was pretty much written out and we found a piano in the hotel restaurant and they let us go and record it.
What was the dispute over?
There were some of us going on about why the hell are we travelling to do this when we could be doing that? It was just one of those. We didn't have a clear picture of what was really going to go on. Day sheets didn't come out or something like that. And the e-mails that were going around were "Wait 'till Tommy gets a load of this s---!" or something like that. And I read the e-mail and got to the bus and was like, "Listen, man. Don't include me in your f---ing mutinies! I'm a one man mutiny if I've got a problem!" And that's how it happened, just blurted it out. History's made.
It would have been all over music press if there was another mutiny in Guns 'N Roses, right?
Haha. It had nothing to do with Axl. It was just silly band s---. People having to travel when they don't want to. You know, your cranky pants. Older guys get cranky on the road.
Watch Tommy Stinson Record 'One Man Mutiny'
Did you ever consider asking Axl, Dave Pirner or Paul to be on this album?
Actually, Dave and I wrote a song when I went to visit him in New Orleans. We wrote a song down there and I was almost going to put this one on this record but I kind of feel I should finish this one with him and there's some stuff that needs to be done on it yet. He lives so far away from me. If he lived down the street, I would add it for sure. Paul came up for the counter-melody for a 'A Match Made in Hell.' I threw some songs his way. A couple of years ago I had some bits and bobs. He sent them back with something on pretty much all of them. I only used the 'A Match Made in Hell' one because it's the only song I liked at the end of the day. I wouldn't think to ask Axl. I'm sure if I asked him he would be amenable to it, but the logistics of it would be kind of kooky. I live in New York and he lives in L.A. You know, it's hard to hook stuff up like that when you live that far away.
At this point in your career, you're not doing this with the intention of it becoming chart-topping album or becoming a big solo star?
Yeah, I gave up those lofty f---ing dreams a long time ago. I get to kind of be part of that kind of life with Guns or Soul. For my own stuff, I'm just trying to be me. I don't have any lofty aspirations anymore. I like music and I write it and I might as well put it out myself, let people hear it. I'm not going to get anywhere writing music for myself or playing for myself -- it's sort of self-defeating. But you know, hopefully it will still work where I can afford to make music and put it out and not lose my shirt. At the end of the day, I'm always going to want to write songs, play shows. That's kind of the whole purpose of putting it out on my own because f---ing record companies don't do s--- for you anyway.
Were you performing any Replacements songs during your solo gigs?
No. Paul sang those songs. It wouldn't make any sense for me to sing any of that stuff.
We know you've been asked a lot about a reunion. Do you ever want to say, "Listen, thank you for all the love but we're just not doing this?"
We pretty much don't need to say that. There's not much of a chance of it anyway. I think that Chris [Mars, drummer] has moved on from the music business altogether. Paul and I might play again together, every couple of years we hook up and do something together, whatever. I don't think there's a need to do it. We've done it once and ... I think people would be kind of happy if we did it but at this point, I can't see any point to it. We'd have to do it where we could have fun with it and not be so mindful of the baggage that goes with it. I don't think Paul could do that. I think he's still stuck with being Paul. It would be too daunting of a task.
What do you mean by that?
When we broke up, he did his thing and I did my thing and we moved on from it. He made his records, but I think he never got around the fact that the Replacements will always be bigger than he was to become after. I'm not being cheeky about it. I wasn't Paul Westerberg. I went on to do all kinds of crap, good or bad or whatever you want to call it, but I moved on gracefully from it, more so I think. I think he's still stuck in that mindset a little bit, you know?
It's like with Black Francis, who keeps getting asked about a new Pixies album even though he's constantly putting out solo stuff.
Exactly. It's understandable. I think if Paul and I get together and have fun with it and not have to be bogged down with bulls--- or being the Replacements, we could have fun with it and actually do it and that could be something, but I think that there's probably, more so for Paul than me probably, there's just too much baggage.
Have you been paying attention the younger fans that you've been getting, or the documentary that came out about your fans, 'Color Me Obsessed'?
That's funny. I met Craig Finn from the Hold Steady at our old show in New York. He was a sweet guy, a big Mats fan. Yeah, I run into people like that once in a while and for me it's like, "God, I wonder if it would make sense for me to tour with those guys, open up for these guys, being a fan." I kind of pay attention. But does it do anything? Does it really matter? Not really. [Laughs] I'm proud of the legacy we've left.
Do you find it odd that people pay so much attention to your relationship with Paul, that people pay attention to what's going on between you two?
You know, I don't get a lot of that because we didn't break up in some sort of volatile argument or anything like that, we just walked away from it. It was kind of time. People want to know after all these years but not a lot has changed. We still talk on the phone every now and again and get together to play. It's not like some act of fate or anything.
Certainly nothing like Axl and Slash. Those two have it a lot worse than you two.
Yeah, yeah. They have their issues that are far greater [laughs]. Probably because they sold too many records. [Laughs] Maybe if we tried to sell more records we'd have that inter-band feud.