A Few Minutes With Tommy Stinson

In between growing up in a Minneapolis band called The Replacements and spending 18 years playing bass for Guns N’ Roses, Tommy Stinson had a project called Bash & Pop.  The band returns next year and we called him up to ask about it. 

Bash & Pop released its debut album, Friday Night Is Killing Me, in 1993, toured, then split in 1994. Although the band – named from a winning submission of a radio contest – was short lived, as is the case of all things Replacements, it was absorbed by the fans.

Now, after a career with GNR and the surrealistic reunion of the ‘Mats, Stinson has reformed Bash & Pop with a new lineup and he’s putting out an album of blue-collar bar tunes called Anything Could Happen on Fat Possum Records Jan. 20. The first single, “On The Rocks,” was released in early November.

There are just a few East Coast dates on the books with support act So So Glos, but Stinson confirmed there are more on the way and – if promoters are reading this – there’s plenty of room left on the routing.

To finance the album, Stinson partnered with PledgeMusic, where fans can get tickets, special offers, hangouts with the singer/guitarist, and other good stuff. Just follow the link.

Photo: Steven Cohen

So there are a few shows on the books currently.  What’s the scoop?

Here’s the thing. The record’s coming out on the 20th and we nabbed a TV show in New York on the 19th, the night before it comes out. I can’t say which TV show, but it’s a thing.  So we wanted to make sure we had dates going up into the TV show and the record release, just to get the ball rolling.  It was a little last-minute because we were kind of waiting for the record company to catch up a little bit. 

So, now, we have a string of about nine dates and radio appearances from the 12th to the 21st.  We’re just going to do small club gigs to get the thing going.

Then, mid-February to the end of February – we’re still adding on – we’re going to start up in Seattle and work our way down the West Coast, the Midwest, all of that, for a bit.  We’re talking about a full-year campaign on this thing. Between me and management and the record company, we all know there is a lot to equate this to record sales – or MP3 sales.

We’re planning on hitting it a lot, doin’ all kinds of shit. From January on it will be an onslaught.

Good. Because when I get off the phone here, I’ll have three or four friends asking if you’ll be within driving distance of this Fresno place.

Well, call your friends in Fresno and say, “Do you think we can fit them into the mix?”  We pretty much have a routing starting from Seattle ending up in the Midwest but it’s not etched in stone yet. If you know a promoter you want to hit up, we’d love to drop by.

Photo: Ben Perlstein

Well, that leads into when Bash & Pop last played here at a place called the Cadillac Club.

Yeah, I remember the Cadillac Club!

So here’s a question about the lineup at the time.  I’m aware of what the original lineup was but that was not the lineup in Fresno. Basically, you had a female bassist and that got the male audience, um, interested in the show.  In other words, there was more than one lineup for the tour.

Well, the original band was Steve Foley (who also drummed for The Replacements after Chris Mars left the band) and Kevin Foley, both whom have since passed. The drummer and his brother, the bass player, are both gone now.  Steve Brantseg was on guitar.

When I made the first record, it ended up being me and Steve Foley and some other musician friends.  I realized when we got into the studio, Steve Brantseg was a great guitar player but there was stuff I was envisioning and trying to tell him how it should be played and finally said, “Fuck it; I’ll just play it myself.”  And Kevin Foley wasn’t doing so great when we went to make the record, so I had to play the bass on it.

So the lineup, then, went to Janis Tanaka on bass. She was in the Jackson Saints from the San Francisco area, and more recently played for Pink. Then we had Jeff Trott for a minute.

So, after that, I basically tried to make a band record and piecemeal it together. 

For this one, I had band sessions at my studio in Hudson, N.Y., where my friends came up and we played the tracks live in the studio, kind of like how we did it in the 80s.  The point of it was tenfold. That’s how I like making records and the last two solo records I made, I didn’t do that – I did them on my own and piecemealed them together, playing all the instruments at some point. It’s a longer process, you think too much, you kill the songs.

For this, I just did some winter sessions at my place with some guys I know from the city and we tracked it live. The result was that these songs reminded people of the Bash & Pop record. So, with me in that mode, it kind of made sense. So it’s Bash & Pop.

What’s the touring lineup for Bash & Pop?

It’s me singing and playing rhythm guitar. Steve Selvidge on guitar.  Joe Kid on drums and Justin Perkins on bass. And Tony Kieraldo on keys when the situation permits.

How long have you been working with your agent, Andrew Ellis?

About a year now.

And he also reps The So So Glos, so I guess that’s the connection?

Well, yeah, but I’ve played shows with those guys.  I love those guys. They’re a fuckin’ hoot.

So you kick off the tour in your hometown.  Is that a big deal or a natural starting point?

It’s kind of a big deal because we started our PledgeMusic campaign with this in mind – a special Minneapolis show, because that’s where we’re from, at the Entry.  Last year we played at the Turf Club, which is bigger, but we wanted to go back to square one and do something more special – the iconic 7th Street Entry.

All of my buddies who’ve been to the First Avenue / 7th Street Entry have to take a photo of them next to the star on the wall of The Replacements. Not Prince or anybody else. To them, that’s the iconic star.

Iconic? More of a high-colonic.

Photo: Chris McKay / GettyImages.com
Shaky Knees Music Festival, Atlantic Station Park, Atlanta, Ga.

OK. Personal question number one.  I’ve tried to learn the lick for “Tickled To Tears” over the years and can’t do it.  Is that open tuning or something? What am I doing wrong?

It’s an open G tuning, a la Stones.  And now that you’ve brought that to my attention, that might be a good one to pull out because I need something in that time signature, something that would be fun and not too fuckin’ crazy to sing.

Monday is my kickoff point for trying to remember everything. That’s when I sit in a room with my guitar, my amp, my headache, my notebook and my coffee and go, “OK, here we go.”

Will the setlist for the tour be completely Bash & Pop tunes or will you drag out a few nuggets?

It will be a longer show than two albums so I have different stuff in there.  I’m not playing anything Guns N’ Roses, I’m not playing anything Replacements.  It’s all my shit, one band or another.  I want it to be fun and upbeat, but it’s all me, all night.

Personal question number two:  You sang backup on a song for a band called Ultra-V. Do you recall that at all?

Ultra-V. Can you give me the time frame on that?

It’s got to be 15 years ago, and the song is “Heartful of Rain.”  It was a New York band and, on the liner notes, it says backup vocals by Tommy Stinson.

I’m blanking on it! That doesn’t mean anything other than I don’t remember.

Well, it’s kind of a mysterious band. They came out with one album (Bring On The Fuego) that wasn’t well-received.  Then, a decade later, Kid Rock pulled out one of the songs from the album, “Playboy Mansion,” and redid it as a single (“Cucci Galore”).

I wonder why I’m blanking. OK. There are two answers to this question. One, was there a girl in the band?

Yes, there was.

There you go.

Upcoming dates for Bash & Pop:

Jan. 12 – Minneapolis, Minn., 7th Street Entry         
Jan. 13 – Milwaukee, Wis., Cactus Club       
Jan. 14 – Chicago, Ill., Cobra Lounge           
Jan. 15 – Columbus, Ohio, Big Room Bar    
Jan. 16 – Cleveland, Ohio, Now That’s Class
Jan. 17 – Philadelphia, Pa., Johnny Brenda’s 
Jan. 18 – New York, N.Y., The Mercury Lounge     
Jan. 20 – Asbury Park, N.J., The Saint
Jan. 21 – Allston, Mass., Great Scott

Visit Bash & Pop’s Facebook page for more information.