This January Tommy Stinson treated the City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection to one of his most intimate local shows in ages. Instead of the mega-stages he found himself on when his legendary Replacements reunited, or those even bigger, where he played in his years in Guns N’ Roses, for this appearance Tommy found himself headlining the sold out, 250-capacity Johnny Brenda’s, with the newly revamped Bash & Pop (who later went on to play the even-crazy-smaller upstairs stage at World Cafe Live for Non-Comm). Bash & Pop originally formed in 1992, as Stinson’s post-Replacements project, where he was joined by Replacements drummer Steve Foley, brother Kevin Foley on bass, and Steve Brantseg on guitar. The band released one album, Friday Night is Killing Me and, perhaps most famously, contributed “Making Me Sick” to the Clerks soundtrack. However, while the goal was to form a band that could boast the same kind of chops The Replacements were known for, in a recent chat, from the back of his tour bus, Stinson tells me that, in the end, he wound up doing most of the work: “Without being disparaging about the band, that band was kind of piecemealed together. I did the best I could, but I had to wear too many hats. Like, I really just wanted to play guitar and sing, but I wound up playing a lot of the bass just because I was the one best suited to do that.”
Well, after a divorce, taking on duties as a full-time parent, and moving on from his longtime gig in Gun N’ Roses, in addition to The Replacements’ reunion, Tommy Stinson, currently based in Hudson, NY, decided to dust off the Bash & Pop moniker and re-form the band with a different set of musical friends, including guitarist Steve Selvidge of The Hold Steady, former Mighty Mighty Bosstones drummer Joe Sirois, and Justin Perkins. This January saw the release of Anything Could Happen, Bash & Pop’s sophomore album, 24 years in the making (courtesy of Fat Possum Records). The album isn’t far from the delectably “Rock’N’Roll” sounds of The Replacements, meshing the punch of the earliest (and punkest) power pop with the swagger of Southern rock. During our chat Tommy tells me that this album is what he had initially hoped for Bash & Pop: “This is the record that I hoped that would be. It was four guys in a sweaty basement, playing live, and I could play guitar and didn’t have to worry about playing bass or anything.”
Even more recently, Tommy Stinson and Bash & Pop recorded two songs with one of our very favorite songwriters, Nicole Atkins (who also produced the tracks). Last month they premiered “Too Late” and on November 24th Fat Possum will release that, along with “Saturday” (also featuring Atkins) as a limited edition 7”. When I ask Stinson about working with the songstress, of who I am quite an admirer, he can’t help but gush about her talent and the privilege he felt to get to work with her… Apparently they also first met right here in the 215…
“I’ve known her for a few years now, five years actually. We actually met at the radio convention in Philly, Non-Comm, with Rhett Miller. I love her to death. Her voice and everything is so fantastic. I liked the last record [2014’s Slow Phaser] a lot. Like that song, ‘Cool People.’ I remember listening to that when I was getting my kid to school. And then that first song, ‘Who Killed the Moonlight?’ that sounds like a disco song from the fuckin’ ‘70s. I remember I went to see her and I bought that album and heard that song and thought it was a cover of a disco song, like it was my long lost favorite disco song. And then the first song for the new album, Goodnight Rhonda Lee, [‘A Little Crazy’], I listened to that song on the way from Hudson to New York City on repeat and it conjured up Roy Orbison and ‘60s girl groups all in one, like a Shangri-Las girl group sound.”
The collaboration’s first song, “Too Late,” is a charmingly woozy and boozy old-fashioned country ballad. Tommy had apparently been working on the song for over a decade, but just never got quite comfortable with it: “I was working on the song for a long time and wanted it to be a duet and was like, ‘Let’s go with her,’ and it was a bit uncomfortable with the guys at first, who were having trouble getting on the same page, but I just wanted to go with however she was feeling it… I mean, that girl’s got fuckin’ producing chops and chops as a singer.” He even goes on to say that when recording “Saturday,” the B-side, he was feeling quite intimidated.
“I remember when we started to do ‘Saturday’ thinking, ‘How the hell am I going to sound next to fuckin’ Nicole?’ I’m just a scrapper. She’s got chops. Her as a singer and a producer, she did an amazing job. She’s got a good career ahead of her.”
Bash & Pop are currently on the road with some of history’s quintessential post-punks, The Psychedelic Furs, opening their “Singles Tour.” And this Tuesday, October 10th, Bash & Pop and The Psychedelic Furs will be taking over the stage of Union Transfer. When Tommy and I spoke the tour wasn’t yet underway and he wasn’t quite sure how he and Bash & Pop would take on these mega-clubs, but he was pretty fuckin’ sure it would be a good time.
“You’ll have to see it when you get there. It’s gonna be a fun night. We could come out blazing, or we could whatever… We’re probably just gonna come out blazing and do 45 minutes and it’s gonna be a lot of fun.”
I finally ask Tommy what have been the highlights since re-starting Bash & Pop and he says just getting to live a decent life and play with his buddies on a regular basis is all he could really ask for, as a musician: “Just that I’m able to do it and get out and do it with my friends. There’s not a whole lot of pomp and circumstance with it. I mean, I’m talking to you from the back of a bus right now, but I remember all those years in the van and know so many great bands are still touring like that, so I’m just thankful to be able to do it like this these days.” He also tells me that Bash & Pop’s reformation definitely wasn’t a one-off thing and that we can expect more from them in the very near future: “We’re gonna keep fuckin’ going. We’re gonna be recording more by the end of the year.”