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October, 2003
Tommy Grows Up
Harper Magazine, October-November 2003
Tommy Grows Up
interview by Anders Smith Lindall

Tommy Stinson first played bass in a band called Dogbreath at the age of 11. Dogbreath, of course, became the Replacements - the scruffiest, most lovable, passionate, and inevitably selfdefeating band of the post punk '8os. Stinson later led Bash & Pop and Perfect (whose long-lost LP, Seven Days a Week, is finally scheduled to see the light via Rykodisc in 2004). Now 36, Stinson serves as a sideman in Guns `n Roses and has completed a solo album for release next year.

The only thing that made the Replacements a punk band was that we just did what we wanted.

The energy of four guys writing a song in the room - if you can bottle and sell that instead of the CD you made in the studio, people can relate to it more than a polished record.

I don't want to see anyone up there that's singing and playing songs but not living that moment and feeling it. You have to mean it.

I got into Guns 'n' Roses because I looked at Axl and thought, "This guy's the embodiment of punk rock." I've gotten strength from seeing how determined he is.

I've always had my instinct for people. I know bullshit when I see it.

The Replacements threw a bunch of elements up against the wall and never cared about where they landed. That might have been the best thing we had going.

I have no aspirations to he a rock star. I've lived to tell the tale that it's not all it's cracked up to he.

The one thing Axl Rose and Paul Westerberg have in common is that they have a hard time explaining what they're trying to get, musically.

I've taken a lot from Paul. Mostly I've taken what he didn't give and tried to turn that around. He's someone you learn from by going, "I don't want to he like that."

Don't expect to get anything, but always be loving and giving.

Major labels are the unnecessary evil to becoming a rock star. If the Replacements made it big, I would've been a little fucking guy who thought he was a rock star when he wasn't. And I'd be sitting here today, wondering what happened.

I'm not scared of my mortality. I figure we're all here until we're not, and then we're gone.

Drugs and drinking became part of the Replacements' legacy just by being there. There were a lot of bands that had the same issues; theirs just didn't get talked about as much.

After my brother died, we somehow had more contact with each other. Now he shows up in my life in a very positive way. I remember the fun shit that we did together; all the bad stuff I don't even think about anymore.

The bummer for me is that the shenanigans meant more to some people than listening to "Skyway" or "Bastards of Young." Those songs are heartfelt, they're youthful; they spoke of who we were. They're what the Replacements gave to rock music.

If you want to survive in this world, stop being bitter.

I Went broke and had to learn how to support myself without music. I stopped writing music for a while. And I've gotten back to a place where I'm happier doing music than I've ever been.

Whether you're playing jazz or you re in the circus or you want to be a Senator, the person that stands by their beliefs embodies the punk rock spirit.

I grew up in a rock band rather than going to high school, going to college, getting a job. So I was in an arrested state of development even uhrough my 20s, and I've done my best growing up in the last ten years.

I wouldn't do my 20s over, and 30 on has been great. If you're not there yet, you'll get there and you'll figure it out.

I don't like to wait too long to get the hook. I like a very immediate pop song, whether it's played at 15 or played quietly on 3.

The White Stripes brought back the very basic elements of rock. It's not polished, it's not produced, it's just raw, and that's the most awesome thing to come out of rock in the last few years.

I'm fucking proud that we had our moment, and people still talk about us. The fact is we left' a little mark in the rock 'n' roll history book.

Thanks Gypsy for the scans.


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