Tommy Stinson Interview: Guns N' Roses' Bassist Compares Axl Rose and Paul Westerberg
Steven Cohen Tommy Stinson
*Our review of Guns N' Roses at The Forum, December 21, 2011
*True Story: Axl Once Threatened To Skip A Concert, So Barry Fey Got His Gun
Tommy Stinson is good bassist and a tremendous fella, but he's best known for being in both the Replacements and Guns and fucking Roses. As he told us, dealing with the outsize egos of Paul Westerberg and Axl Rose hasn't been easy, but it's certainly had its rewards. Stinson has now been a member of G n' R longer than Duff McKagan, and he seems to exude a calming, steadying influence on those he plays for.
Ahead of the group's show tonight at The Forum, we talked with the former L.A.-resident Stinson about the two mercurial frontmen, life on the road with G n' R, and the possibility of new albums from both that band and his other outfit, Soul Asylum.
How has this tour been going?
Pretty good. Compared to all our tours in the past 10-12 years, this one's gone pretty smoothly. I hate to say that because I don't want to jinx it, but we're near the end. I think everyone has a better mindset. The addition of DJ [Ashba] helps -- him and Axl have a pretty good relationship. All of us have pretty good relationships, actually. The shows tend not to be so bagged down with the baggage of the past. We don't give a shit, just go out and have fun and move on.
What kind of baggage, specifically, are you referring to?
There was always an underlying thing of trying to compete with the past. I never really felt that, I never gave a crap. I joined this band because it sounded like a good idea. Whether it was Axl [competing with] it or whatever, I don't think it's there anymore. It's not like we need to compete anymore. We've been a band now longer than they were the old band.
What do you think drives Axl nowadays?
I think he wants to go out and put on a good show and have a good time. It's what you're supposed to do in the first place. Trying to compete with the old band -- fucking Slash, all that stuff -- is extraneous. Thousands of people will come see him every night because he's Axl Rose.
From which Guns n' Roses album do you most enjoy playing songs live?
All of em have good bits to 'em. I put a lot of time and effort into Chinese Democracy, but I like playing stuff off Use Your Illusion and Appetite as well. The [title] track to Chinese Democracy is one of my favorites, also "You Could Be Mine." You can't help getting into watching people go bonkers for "Paradise City," that's always a kick in the pants. We've been closing on it, but Axl's been really switching things up and throwing some curveballs, so I think it's going to be interesting [in L.A.].