Bash & Pop’s Tommy Stinson stole plenty from Paul Westerberg



By Steve Newton

When I first heard the title of the debut Bash & Pop release, Friday Night Is Killing Me, I figured it was something I could relate to a bit, since I’d had a few rough Friday nights in my own lifetime—not to mention Saturday mornings. But the party-till-you-puke idea is not what Replacements bassist-turned-Bash & Pop singer/guitarist Tommy Stinson had in mind when he wrote the title song.

“The song is more a reflection of the time that I was having when the Replacements were in Europe last,” says Stinson, phoning from L.A. “It has to do with how everyone views the working week, where Friday is like the big night because it’s the end of the week, and maybe you got paid or something; when from where I was standing it was more like, ‘Fuck, Friday night’s just another Sunday night to me.’

“So it has little to do with actually partying on Friday nights. I don’t even think there’s any booze reference in it.”

Yours truly could be forgiven for overlooking the lyrical intentions of “Friday Night Is Killing Me”, since I was more wrapped up in the raggedy guitars and Replacements-like feel of the tune than anything else. Kamikaze boogie tunes like “Never Aim to Please”, “One More Time”, and “Fast & Hard” also make one think that Stinson learned some valuable rock rules from Replacements leader Paul Westerberg before that band split up in ’91.

“I’d be kidding myself to say I didn’t,” says Stinson. “I’ve learned and stolen plenty from him. He taught me how to play with open tunings and things like that. He’s been very influential.”

Stinson hooked up with producer Don Smith (the Tragically Hip, Tom Petty, Keith Richards) to make Friday Night Is Killing Me, and used Prince’s Paisley Park studio to mix part of it. But the Purple One wouldn’t be thrilled to hear Stinson’s appraisal of his prestigious Minneapolis recording place.

“There’s no great anything about that studio,” he claims. “I mean, I’ve used studios in L.A. on my record that are one-third the cost and light-years ahead of that one, technologically speaking. And there’s just a bad vibe there. I mean, it’s stale; it’s like trying to record in the hospital or something.”

If any insipid sounds infiltrated the recording at Paisley Park, you can’t hear them over the predominating good-time feel of Friday Night Is Killing Me. Stinson even throws in a chuckle at the expense of Guns N’ Roses by inserting the famous guitar intro to “Sweet Child o’ Mine” into “One More Time”.

“Steal the obvious from people who already steal,” says Stinson with a happy cackle. “That’s my motto.”

When Bash & Pop plays the Town Pump on Wednesday (June 23), it’ll feature a different line-up from the one that kicked off the band’s current North American tour. After a three-week stint on the East Coast, guitarist Steve Bransteg and bassist Caleb Palmiter got the boot.

“Their names were too hard to pronounce,” says Stinson. “Now, a girl named Jackie Tanaka plays bass, and a guy named Max Butler plays guitar. Much simpler names, don’t you think?”

Drummer Steve Foley rounds out the band, which is only the second group Stinson has ever been in. He’d been playing with the Replacements since he was 11 years old, and there isn’t much he’d change about his time with that most influential of post-punk American bands.

“I would have grown up a little slower maybe,” says Stinson with a laugh. “But no…there’s nothing. I mean, the years in the Replacements were really great years, and I would never talk down on them.”

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