By David Lindquist | Published 3:14 p.m. ET July 25, 2017 on indystar.com
Bass player in the Replacements and Guns N’ Roses will bring Cowboys in the Campfire to Fountain Square
Musical trends come and go, but Tommy Stinson plans to stick with melody and power intersecting at the nearest guitar amplifier.
Rock ‘n’ roll made Stinson an underground icon in the Replacements, the hard-charging Minneapolis band he joined at age 11 in 1979. He shifted from the role of bass player to vocalist-guitarist in 1990s band Bash & Pop, and he returned to bass duties in Guns N’ Roses — which featured Stinson as a member from 1998 to 2014.
“I don’t know how to define rock ‘n’ roll,” Stinson said during a phone interview. “All I know is there’s a vibe and a feeling I still get from doing what I do. It’s a camaraderie, dudes that love playing together doing their best bit and having the best fun with it. That’s a small thing, but it’s also completely different than everything that has come in the digital age.”
Stinson will bring one of his current musical projects, Cowboys in the Campfire, to Fountain Square’s Do317 Lounge & Gallery on July 26. Made up of Stinson and multi-instrumentalist Chip Roberts, Cowboys in the Campfire is a duo that plays old songs, new songs and selected covers.
“Everyone who’s coming to these shows is getting to be part of our progress,” Stinson said of the Cowboys in the Campfire road show.
Minneapolis native Stinson said he wants to have two free-standing acts: Bash & Pop, the two-guitar, bass and drums outfit that released a rambunctious studio album titled “Anything Can Happen” earlier this year, plus Cowboys in the Campfire.
The Cowboys are stripped down in presentation, but Stinson doesn’t accept “folk” or “singer-songwriter” as adjectives.
“It’s two dudes with two guitars making as much racket as they can,” he said.
Meanwhile, the lore of the Replacements continues to grow. A live album titled “For Sale: Live at Maxwell’s 1986” will be released on Oct. 6.
Memphis Commercial-Appeal music journalist Bob Mehr wrote a 520-page biography, “Trouble Boys: The True Story of the Replacements,” a New York Times Best Seller published in 2016.
“I haven’t read the book,” Stinson said. “I lived it, so I don’t want to go three times around on these same things. I lived it and talked about it. Reading it is too much.”
Known for living all facets of life in excess, the Replacements played a memorable show in Broad Ripple in 1986. The setting was Muggins, previously a Mexican restaurant south of the Vogue on College Avenue. Members of R.E.M., who were recording their “Life’s Rich Pageant” at John Mellencamp’s studio in Brown County, drove up to Indianapolis to catch the show and sit in for a song.
Stinson remembers the day as being “annoying.”
“I don’t have a great memory of that,” he said. “I have a bad memory of that. I’ll be honest with you, I’m looking forward to having a great Indianapolis moment when I come out there this time. I want to have a good time and not have to worry about all the old (stuff) that’s in the back of my cranium.”
Stinson declined to share details of his Indianapolis past, which naturally segues to the 16 years he spent as a band mate of Lafayette native Axl Rose.
Rose, the Guns N’ Roses vocalist who once compared his home state to the Nazi concentration camp at Auschwitz, has yet to bring the current version of GNR — featuring founding members Slash and Duff McKagan back in the lineup — to Indiana. Stinson was part of the band when it visited Bankers Life Fieldhouse in December 2011.
Stinson said Rose didn’t take that return to Indiana lightly.
“All I know about all of that is that he had a very troubled childhood,” Stinson said. “I never really got that much into it with him about that. What I did, I’m not going to share. It’s a huge thing for him to ever come play in that state, ever. It’s a huge thing for him to play in a couple of other states, as well.”
Guitarist Izzy Stradlin, the other founding member of Guns N’ Roses who grew up in Indiana, wasn’t in the band during Stinson’s tenure and he’s not in the current incarnation.
Stinson speaks highly of Rose’s work ethic.
“He’s that guy who puts out 1,000 percent every night, no matter what,” Stinson said. “No matter what has happened, what he’s done or anything that’s come into his periphery and troubled him. He’s still that guy.”
Cowboys in the Campfire
>> WHEN: 7 p.m. July 26.
>> WHERE: Do317 Lounge & Gallery, 1043 Virginia Ave., Suite 215.
>> TICKETS: $20.
>> INFO: Visit Eventbrite.com, or call (317) 602-6641.