Published October 5, 2017 By Jim Shahen Jr. on timesunion.com
Rock veteran’s not ready to quit rocking
From teenager in the Replacements to replacement in Guns N’ Roses and the recent resurrection of a band that’s been dormant for over two decades, it’s been a long, weird career for Tommy Stinson. Not that he minds weird.
“To be honest with you, I like weird,” Stinson said. “Everyone else’s ‘weird’ is my normal.
“I’m fortunate where I get to bounce around a lot,” he continued. “I got all kinds of weird [stuff] going on. It keeps it interesting.”
What Stinson has going on right now is Bash and Pop, the project he first launched in 1993 after alt-rock icons the Replacements disintegrated at the start of the decade. The band’s debut, “Friday Night is Killing Me,” merged the frenetic punk energy of early ‘Mats with the ragged rock of the Faces. Bash and Pop fell apart soon after the album’s release, and Stinson moved on to other projects, highlighted by forming the band Perfect, a couple of solo albums and playing bass in Guns N’ Roses for 18 years. The GNR role is a personal favorite for Stinson, one he was sad to pull the plug on.
“[Shucks], it was a good gig; it was fun,” Stinson enthused. “Axl (Rose) really did it well. I learned a whole [frickin’] lot.
“One of my favorite takeaways was writing and working with people from vastly different backgrounds,” he said. “[But] it’s a big production and my personal life got to a point where I sadly had to turn the Guns thing down. My personal situation with my wife and kids was so stressful, personal stuff was just [really screwed], a nightmare.
As his time in GNR ended, the Replacements came back. Kind of. In 2012, singer-songwriter Paul Westerberg and Stinson reformed the seminal band for a tribute EP to former bandmate Slim Dunlap, who was recovering from a stroke.
“It was like, ‘You know what, maybe now is the right time,’ ” Stinson said of the Replacements’ on-and-off touring between 2013 and 2015, noting that he and Westerberg “never really had bad blood.”
“We kind of played it on a week-by-week basis,” he added. “The first year, it was like sticking our toe in the pond and see if we drowned.”
Although rumors swirled during the tour of a reunion album, it never materialized. Much like after the ‘Mats original breakup in 1990, Stinson was left with a bunch of songs. As recording for the new tunes got underway, it took on collaborative nature that brought back echoes of Bash and Pop.
“I kind of went back to my roots; it was a lot simpler,” he said. “This was a band record, the first time I’ve had that since the first Bash and Pop and Perfect in the mid-’90s.
“My friends said it reminded them of Bash and Pop,” Stinson revealed. “I figured, ‘[Man] I own the name, may as well use it.'”
Released in January, Bash and Pop’s “Anything Can Happen” has a local connection: It was recorded at Stinson’s home studio in Hudson. After helping settle some affairs for his now ex-fiancée’s late uncle five years ago, he decided to make the city his home.
“I was helping Uncle Albert divest his lesser-value art collection,” Stinson recalled. “One day it was like, ‘Wait, I kind of like this little place.’ ”
On Oct. 8, Stinson will be making the ride up I-87 to Upstate Concert Hall for Bash and Pop’s support slot for the Psychedelic Furs. Bash and Pop’s collaboration on a fall tour with the legendary British band came out of Stinson’s friendship with Furs’ frontman Richard Butler. Although the two are friends, Stinson looks forward to trying to upstage the group.
“We got to cram in all our [stuff] in about 45 minutes,” he said. “We’re definitely going to light a fire under their asses.”
While on tour with the Psychedelic Furs, Bash and Pop is releasing a duet with country chanteuse Nicole Atkins and is putting together material for another release in the near future. Stinson sees this incarnation of Bash and Pop as another fun way to continue in an industry where he first found success at the age of 13.
“We keep doing things that’s exciting and fun for us,” Stinson raved. “That’s the [bleeping] reason you make music; you like it and the people you’re making it with.
“Leaving that type of legacy is one in a million,” he proudly added, referencing the good fortune he’s had to spend 37 years as a professional recording artist. “Lucky [expletive] me.”