MULTITASKING MUTINEER Tommy Stinson

From the
Replacements to Guns N’ Roses to a new solo record aiming to help benefit
Haitian kids, the dude has had plenty on his plate over the years.

 

BY JOHN B. MOORE

 

It took seven years, but Tommy Stinson – probably best known
as the plaid-suited, spiky-haired young bassist for The Replacements – has finally
followed up his 2004 solo record Village
Gorilla Head.
On the bright side, that’s only half as long as his current
group – Guns N’ Roses – took to complete Chinese
Democracy
.

 

Stinson deserves to be cut some slack though, as he’s had
plenty on his plate over the years. Along with his commitments to Guns N’
Roses, he’s also the bassist for that other great Minneapolis institution Soul Asylum (former
scene mates to the dearly departed ‘Mats).

 

Despite housing songs that have been hanging around
Stinson’s head for years One Man Mutiny (Done To Death Music), his latest solo record, is incredibly cohesive, comprised
of 10 tight barroom rockers with just enough punk influence to show he’s not
close to mellowing out yet. 

 

Stinson
plans to donate a large portion of the proceeds from One Man Mutiny to Timkatec, a nonprofit that houses and educates
homeless children in the Port-au-Prince area of Haiti.
The school also benefitted from an auction he held last year, a benefit that
brought in more than $50,000.

 

 

Now that the record is finally coming out, Stinson plans
some solos shows over the next couple of months, before likely heading down to
South America with Guns N’ Roses and then back on the road to support a new
Soul Asylum record.

 

He took some time recently to speak about the new album,
touring with Guns and whether The Replacements will ever play again.

 

***

 

BLURT: It’s
been about seven years since the last solo record, and I know you’ve been a
little busy…

TOMMY STINSON: A little busy, yeah.

 

Have
you been planning on doing a follow up to that first record all along?

I’m always planning on doing some sort of record with some
of my songs, but it always takes a backseat to other things I’ve committed to.
But I’m always writing and putting stuff on the backburner until I’ve got
enough to make a record. The last six, seven years have been a little too long.
I think the goal here in the future is to make them a little closer together so
that I can actually build on it and tour and shit like that.

 

So had
you been sitting on a lot of these songs for awhile now or are most of them
pretty new?

I’ve been compiling things for awhile and some of the songs
go back to the old record. Like “Come to Hide” is one that we had since the
last record but just didn’t make it on for some reason. I compile songs as time
goes by and try and pick the best lot when I’m finally ready to commit them to
a record.

 

Your
fiancé sings on a few of these songs doesn’t she?

Yeah, a bunch of them. That’s one of my favorite parts of
the record right now is that it adds a whole melodic aspect to the record that
I’ve never had before. I’ve been looking for that. You know how The Kinks’
records always have a female background vocal in there and I’ve always liked
that sound.

 

Did you
know all along that you were going to want to include her vocals to the songs…

Yeah, I did. It took us awhile to figure out how it was
going to work out and then it kind of started happening.

 

One
song in particular that really stands out is the title track “One Man Mutiny”.
Do you mind talking just a bit about where that came from?

Yeah, it kind of came from a goofy experience in Europe. It was almost in jest the way it came up. It came
from a conversation with me and one of the managers of Guns N’ Roses and we
were all talking about a bus call and there was some dissention in the ranks
about the bus call and blah, blah, blah and I got lumped into this argument and
I just kind of came up with the phrase, “next time you guys come up with an
argument, don’t lump me into it, I’m a one man mutiny.” I thought, you know
what, I’m going to have the lyrics before we get to the next town and as it
happened I had the lyrics by the time we got to Brussels. I thought how fitting to come up
with it, write it and play it with a couple guys from Guns  who were around and had nothing to do for a
couple of days.

 

Mentioning
Gun N’ Roses, you’ve obviously been involved with some big bands: The
Replacements, Soul Asylum, Guns N’ Roses. When The Replacements fell apart,
what made you decide to go back and get involved with some other big named
bands versus just go it alone?

They opportunities kind of presented themselves at the right
time. The Guns things happened as The Perfect (one of Stinson’s
post-Replacements bands) thing was falling apart because the label was going to
totally screw up the release and shelf it. By the time we did that and kind of
had our hearts broken… I tried the Bash & Pop (another band) thing and that
was such a beast and everything over that course of time was so taxing that I
just said, “I just kind of want to play for someone right now.” And the Guns
thing came up sort of magically out of nowhere, and honestly it was sort of
like a dare to even go to the audition. Axl seemed like he had a really good
idea and was backing it which was cool.

 

Obviously
it took a few years to work on the record (Chinese
Democracy
took about 15 years to finish) and then you toured the word. Any
idea where the band is heading now? Are you working on any new music?

We’re going to go to South American in October – I think. (Laughs) I think that’s happening. There’s
some dates coming up and then I’m not really sure where it’s going to go from
there. I’d like to think that maybe there’s another record coming that we’re
going to work on, but there’s certainly a bunch of material that’s sitting
there that we could finish and probably get another out there. I’ve sort of
been out of the loop, doing my own thing for awhile so I won’t get back into
that until September.  

 

Let’s
talk about your record again. I’m interested to find out more about the school you
are donating a portion of the album sales proceeds to. How did you first hear
about the
Timkatec
school?

Basically what happened for me is I had the same feeling
(after the Haiti
earthquake) that I had after Katrina hit. Although when Katrina happened I
donated money to the Red Cross thinking that was the right thing to do and
found out later that was probably the stupidest thing to do because the bureaucracy
probably ate that money up. So when the earthquake in Haiti happened I really wanted to
do something, but I didn’t just want to sit on the sidelines and throw money at
it.

        I decided to
get involved and went down there and saw the school and kids and said I’m going
to try and do something to help these kids out. So I raised some money through
an auction… a little over $50,000 when all was said and that’s worth a fucking
couple hundred dollars to that school. It helps them a lot. I want to have
another auction, but in lieu of having one ready by October, I thought why don’t
I just donate some of the proceeds of this record to Timkatec. That will keep
them in the public eye and hopefully I can beat what I did with the auction,
with my record… There are a lot of places that need help and I just choose to
focus on Haiti.

 

You
went there and actually visited the school?

I went there and saw the school, saw the kids and everything
else. It was a life changing experience to say the least.

 

Let’s
talk about Soul Asylum for a minute. Did you just finish up an album with the
band?

We’re finishing it up. I think the next thing to do is have
it mixed, then see who is putting it out. I think there are a couple of things
in the works that I’m not at liberty to talk about but hopefully it will be out
by spring.

 

And
will you tour when it comes out?

Yes, we definitely will.

 

In
reading the new Bob Mould book he makes it very clear that Husker Du will never
get back together again. I get a sense that the door to The Replacements was
never completely closed. Obviously you and Paul (Westerberg) left on better
terms than Bob and his band. Do you ever anticipate getting back together to
play some more shows?

You know, we never rule it out. (Laughs) We just don’t ever do it!

 

Are you
still in contact
?

Oh yeah, yeah. Paul and I spoke last month. We talk every
now and then about this that and the other thing. Usually fucking small talk,
but it’s there if we want to do it. 

 

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