Originally Published on CommercialAppeal.com
Tommy Stinson finds satisfaction in reviving Bash & Pop
By: Bob Mehr, USA TODAY NETWORK – Tennessee:
Tommy Stinson knows a thing or two about bands.
At the tender age of 12 he helped found alternative rock icons the Replacements, playing with them for a dozen years. Later, he would serve as Axl Rose’s musical lieutenant in the revamped Guns N’ Roses for 18 years, as well as manning the bass for Soul Asylum off and on for a decade. In between Stinson fronted his own outfits, Bash & Pop and Perfect. Roughly speaking, Stinson has spent 80 percent of his 50 years on earth playing in a rock and roll group of one kind of another.
“Dude … when you put it like that it sounds terrifying,” laughs Stinson.
Stinson’s latest project is another band: a revival of his early-’90s group, Bash & Pop. The combo released a new album “Anything Can Happen” in January, and will be playing through Nashville and Memphis, with a stop at the Hi-Tone Café on Thursday.
“The idea of having a band — as opposed to doing solo stuff with some hired guns — has always been more appealing to me,” says Stinson. “I dunno if it’s ’cause I’m so used to the band vibe, but it’s what’s always felt the most natural to me.”
Bash & Pop’s latest album comes 24 years after its debut, 1993’s “Friday Night Night is Killing Me.” Despite the group moniker, the original Bash & Pop never became the fully formed unit that Stinson envisioned — there were multiple lineup changes and eventually the project split, or essentially morphed into another stillborn combo, Perfect.
“It was a hard thing to make happen at the time,” says Stinson of his post- Replacements efforts. “After being in the Replacements all those years. I knew what it was like to be in a band. I had a specific idea of how a band could function, or dysfunction,” he says, chuckling. “But it’s hard to find that (instant) magic with another group of people. It’s a little like capturing lighting in a bottle. But I think this new record and lineup is where I’ve finally done that.”
After finally leaving Guns N’ Roses and a successful Replacements reunion behind in 2015, Stinson was once again at loose ends, and ready to make music. He was trying to avoid doing another solo record; Stinson had cut a pair of platters under his own name during his GN’R years. “But the thing with solo records is you take too much time to mess around with stuff and lose what your objective is,” he says. “Inevitably, there’s way too much fussing when you’re the only one involved.”
Instead, Stinson soon began recording live at his home studio in Hudson, New York, with a group of pals that initially included North Mississippi Allstars guitarist Luther Dickinson and Ryan Adams & the Cardinals’ bassist Cat Popper. Eventually, Stinson would seize on a combination of players led by Memphian and Hold Steady guitarist Steve Selvidge, Mighty Mighty Bosstones drummer Joe Sirois, and Screeching Weasel bassist Justin Perkins. Rather than come up with a new handle for the combo, he decided to revive the old Bash & Pop moniker.
“In part, I brought back the name because it finally felt like I’d found the band I’d been looking for,” says Stinson. “We have a real camaraderie and an instinctual relationship that’s great. I don’t have to show them anything. It’s like ‘Here’s a song’ and they connect with it immediately. That’s what makes it feel like a real band.”
“If I could compare it to the Replacements and Guns N’ Roses, the thing this group has in common is that we’re all real good friends. Plus, with Steve and Joe and Justin, they’ve all done this before, they know how to be in a band — it’s a ‘just add water’ scenario.”
Mississippi label Fat Possum released “Anything Can Happen” this winter, and the record earned Stinson the best reviews of his career, with critics lauding its soulful Faces-styled songs and loose-limbed feel. Touring with Bash & Pop v. 2.0 has further solidified Stinson’s faith in the project. “We’ve been doing it for over a year on the road and it’s had a chance to blossom — I can see the flowers blooming every time we play,” he says.
Riding the current momentum, Stinson is eager to make another Bash & Pop record. During a recent stop in Austin to perform at the South by Southwest music conference the band spent a day at a local studio cutting tracks. “And we might actually get some studio time in Nashville to throw down some new Bash & Pop songs,” says Stinson, who’s also planning to release a side project called Cowboys In the Campfire, an acoustic duo with veteran Philadelphia guitarist Chip Roberts.
“Historically, I’m not that prolific of a writer — mostly because I was so busy on the road with Guns N’ Roses or whoever. But I’m writing a lot lately. Now I’ve created a path that I can do stuff with Cowboys In the Campfire and Bash & Pop. It’s good to have two things going, allows me to write without pigeonholing myself,” says Stinson. “I’ve got this particular time in my life where I can do pretty much what I want — and it feels good.”
When, Where: Thursday at the Hi-Tone Café, 412 N. Cleveland. Doors at 8 p.m. Music starts at 9 p.m.
Tickets: $15 in advance, $18 day of show. Available at hitonecafe.com