The Catalyst interview: Tommy Stinson


Here’s some great Q&A with Tommy & St Pete Catalyst:

St. Pete Catalyst: I read a quote from you somewhere. You said you weren’t interested in the music business, and you had nothing to prove. So why are you still working when you don’t really have to?

Tommy Stinson: You know, I still like the process. I still like playing and performing and I still enjoy writing and recording, and all of that stuff. So it doesn’t really matter to me outside of that. I like to do what I do, and I’m lucky enough I can do it any way I want to, really, at this point. Or not! I can take it or leave it, really. But I’m a very social person. And yeah, I still like the process of it all.


St. Pete Catalyst: The Saturday Night Live debacle … big break time. Was there ever the thought ‘Well, we maybe could have handled that a little better …’

Tommy Stinson: You know, we didn’t really care about that. We were more into the idea of ‘OK, how are we going to make this entertaining? How are we going to do this?’ We played by our own handbook. As faulty as that is, and was, can be, it’s the best we knew what to do with. And that’s how we existed. Being social malcontents or whatever you want to call us – we were all of the above, probably – it’s just we didn’t know any better. We didn’t particularly give a shit to play the game. And show up, and do what everyone else was doing to become more successful with their music. We just had to be ourselves.

And ourselves was on the line. I think when you look at the history of it, we were an honest band. We couldn’t put on airs about f—in’ anything, whether it was tying our shoe or playing f—ing Saturday Night Live.


St. Pete Catalyst: I could imagine the label was going ‘What the heck is wrong with these guys?’

Tommy Stinson: They probably were. A lot of times, the label was right there with us. We hung out with [Sire Records president] Seymour Stein and others from the record label. They weren’t as screwed up as we were, in any way, but they accepted us, that we were just the best that we could be. I mean, we didn’t have anything in us to do any more than we did in any particular way.

That’s not to say Paul don’t have regrets about himself, I’m just telling you from my angle. Where I’m sittin.’ I think we did everything the best we could. A ball f—ed in barnacles and everything with it, you know?


St. Pete Catalyst: The later tenures you did in Guns N Roses and Soul Asylum, was there an element there of ‘I better clean up my act … Gotta play the game a little’?

Tommy Stinson: (laughing) Not really, ‘cause both bands knew what they were hiring. They both knew what they were getting for their dollar, if you will. The Soul Asylum guys I grew up with, so that’s a whole different thing on its owns. But Guns, they knew the history, they knew what I was about. It was part of the allure, I think, in that regard. Because I was one of them.


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