|Once the public pegs you as something, it's hard to break out of the box. For proof just look at Tommy Stinson, who's performed on more than 10 projects since 1991 but always seems to have his name preceded by the words "ex-Replacements bassist."
Stinson wouldn't mind the association if it were simply a reflection of how evocative, forward-thinking and influential he is as a musician. However, when most people draw the Replacements connection, it's coming from a completely different place.
"When I'm out, people literally come up to me and go, 'Dude, I saw you. You guys played, and you were so f---ed up you couldn't stand up. You were falling down and it was the greatest show I ever saw,' " Stinson said. "I think we made some great records, but no one ever says, 'Man, I think your music was amazing.' "
After forming the groups Bash & Pop and Perfect in the mid-'90s, Stinson joined Guns N' Roses in 1998 and has worked with them in the studio and on the road. And in his abundant spare time, he wrote and recorded his first solo album, Village Gorilla Head, due July 27.
The disc contains 11 songs Stinson has written over the past 10 years, and it covers a variety of styles. "Without a View" is acoustic and melancholy, "Something's Wrong" features serrated guitar chords that mingle with classic pop melodies, and "Couldn't Wait" is bristling and agitated, conjuring the brazen spirit of punk before the rise of Green Day.
"I didn't set out to make a certain kind of record," Stinson said. "I like to hear albums that have peaks and valleys, and different musical textures going on that maybe have nothing to do with the song before."
Stinson named the album Village Gorilla Head after an electronic-flavored song colored with horns and strings, which was cobbled together from three musical pieces, each of which illuminated different areas of the musical spectrum. "One of them kind of sounded like the Village People, one sounded a bit like Gorillaz, and the bridge on the other one sounded like Motörhead," Stinson said.
While Stinson explores various musical styles, his lyrics are fairly dark. Over the course of the record, Stinson obliquely addresses his marriage, his divorce, being a father, and numerous romantic relationships that didn't last. But even in the darkest lines, there's always a glimmer of light.
"I think these are a lot of bleak stories being told with hopeful endings," Stinson said. "The vibe of it is, as bad as things are, they're gonna get better."
Stinson plans to tour for Village Gorilla Head, but his road trips may be somewhat limited by Guns N' Roses, who are finishing up their long-awaited album, Chinese Democracy, in fits and starts.
"There are just so many little aspects that are being finalized on that record that every once in a while someone will go, 'God, I just realized you hit a bad note in this one place. We just found it.' And I'll go in and sort it out."
Aver having worked with a long list of producers — including Roy Thomas Baker, Bob Ezrin, Sean Beavan and Moby — Axl Rose has taken over production duties for the album, Stinson said. The reason the disc isn't done yet, he added, is because Rose is a methodical perfectionist who wants to make the creation of Chinese Democracy as democratic as possible.
"He likes to take all the members of the band and get the best out of each guy for each song," Stinson said. "It's a brilliant process that gets everyone involved so everyone owns a piece of the song because they've put themselves into it. That way you don't have people going, 'Well, I'm not gonna play on his song if you're not gonna sing on my song.' And that's a lengthy process because you have to get eight people to basically write a song together that everyone likes."
Stinson added that he thinks the record is finally almost done, and the only thing that's holding back its completion is legal issues. Even the recent departure of guitarist Buckethead isn't slowing anything down. "As far as I know, he hasn't been replaced, but we already have enough guitarists," Stinson said. "We have Robin Finck and Richard Fortus, and Buckethead will be on the record, too. I really have no idea why he decided to leave, but it didn't come out of left field because he's always come and gone. Even when I do see him, I don't know what he thinks."
An update from Tommy:
JUN. 09: Hey ya'll here's all the latest,
As you may or may not have heard my solo record titled Village Gorilla Head is being released on Sanctuary Records on July 27th. Before going out with The Figgs for two weeks on Aug 4th (EASTCOAST ONLY), I'll be doing a couple promotional shows, one in Minneapolis around July 26th the other in N.Y.C. around July 29th. They should be open to the public but I'll give more details as they come. I will also be adding more shows after the Figgs tour in the coming weeks and will broadcast them here first so...HEADS UP! Also, I may do some shows with Jesse in Europe in September.
See the rest at his site.
This is supposed to be the tracklisting for Tommy's album:
1. Without A View
2. Moment Too Soon
4. Something's Wrong
6. Village Gorilla Head
7. Hey You
8. Bite Your Tongue
9. Light Of Day
11. Couldn't Wait
Lawyer: Cop "lost it" during rock concert
By HAYLEY MICK
VANCOUVER (CP) - Two Vancouver police officers used excessive and unnecessary force against concert goers caught in a riot after a Guns N' Roses concert, a lawyer for the B.C. Police Complaints Commission said Wednesday.
Vancouver police officer Reg Forster "lost it" the night of the riot when he used his baton like a "cross-check" to smash a concert goer in the face during the melee, said Dana Urban. However, Bill Smart, who is representing Forster and Const. Ryan D'Onofrio, said in the din and flying glass of the riot, the officers acted to control people they perceived to be threats to themselves and to others.
"They weren't content to sit back and let the riot happen," Smart said.
"They did something about it and they did it with courage and they did it appropriately."
The lawyers delivered their final arguments Wednesday in the commission inquiry into the chaos that erupted when the legendary rock band cancelled their November 2002 show at the last minute.
Robert Parent, 42, and Detlef Schroeder, 52, lodged complaints under the B.C. Police Act, claiming they were injured by police officers using excessive force.
"Mr. Parent was not a hooligan, he had done nothing wrong . . . He was simply trying to go home," Urban said.
A video shows Forster holding a baton at both ends and smashing Parent in the mouth, breaking two teeth.
Parent told the inquiry he picked his teeth up off the ground and walked away, but later had to have six more removed and $25,000 worth of reconstructive surgery because of his injuries.
Smart said Forster has an impeccable record and believed he used the force necessary to stop Parent.
"It doesn't accord with his past conduct and it doesn't accord with what he told you under oath that he would deliberately cross-check this man in the face," the defence lawyer said.
A videotape also shows D'Onofrio holding Schroeder down and beating him with a baton while his daughter looked on. Schroeder and his daughter were heading towards a train station despite police warnings to take another route.
Urban called D'Onofrio's testimony at the inquiry "hogwash."
The officer originally wrote in a police report that he was trying to get Schroeder to leave the area, but later testified he was holding the man down in an effort to arrest him.
Urban said none of the other police officers or security guards called to the scene acted with the kind of force D'Onofrio and Forster exhibited that night.
"The laws are simple. No more force than necessary is to be used by the police," Urban said. "Fear or no fear, the laws of this country must prevail."
Urban said it's too simple to accept suggestions from the two officers that their use of force was necessary.
"It's a slippery slope by what we see too often in Third World countries and police states."