It's the first thing he did when the Replacements split up in 1991, so it's no surprise that Tommy Stinson said he would like to be a full-time frontman if he could. As it is, though, Friday's First Avenue show will be the Minneapolis rock legend's first time leading a band in about five years.
"It's been too long," he said. "The cool thing about where I'm at now, though, is I get the opportunity to do a lot of different things -- all of which pay."
The paying gigs, of course, include his stint playing bass in Axl Rose's revamped Guns N' Roses (now going on 12 years) and his other bassist job with his pals in Soul Asylum (with whom he's finishing up a new record). His last solo album, 2006's underrated "Village Gorilla Head," also paid off by landing him a job scoring the Jennifer Garner romantic comedy "Catch and Release."
Stinson has a new record, "One Man Mutiny," tentatively set for August release. The disc includes a little contribution from his old 'Mats running buddy Paul Westerberg on one song, coincidentally titled "Match Made in Hell." He finished the album a couple of months ago before relocating with his wife and second daughter to Hudson, N.Y., where we phoned him last week.
On his new album: "It's a little more rootsy than the last record, and more upbeat. I did most of it in L.A. and Philadelphia over the last couple years, piecemeal between Guns N' Roses tours. I just work on it when I can. Hopefully, I'll move quicker now. One of the goals of moving up here to Hudson was to have my own place with my own studio."
On his post-'Mats bands Bash & Pop and Perfect: "Bash & Pop was interesting because it was my first foray into leading a band. Some things about that record didn't really work, but considering I did it 20 years ago, I'm still pretty proud of it. The problem I had right off the bat -- which I'm facing again -- was it's hard to start a band. It's hard to get the right gigs and get people paid. In Bash & Pop, that was all on me. In Perfect, it was more of a group effort, but then that got to be hard, too. A lot of work and a lot of effort went into just getting screwed again."
On future Replacements endeavors: "I think the last round was scraping the bottom of the barrel as far as reissues go. I'm not sure about a live album. I don't know if there was ever a live recording made that was worth a crap. I could be wrong, but I don't remember any."
"I don't know if Paul or Chris [Mars] have completely shut the door on it, but I've always thought of it as an open door. If we wanted to go play some shows, we'd just go do it, no big deal. After all these years, we've all kind of grown up and lived quite different lives, but we left a good thing behind and have some good music that'd be OK to revisit."
On Soul Asylum's record: "We still have a few things to finish up. Just last week, I was working on a couple things. Hopefully we'll get it out by the end of the year. It's a little hard because we are spread across different states, but we've been really working hard on it."
And GNR: "We have dates in October, November, and then I'm still waiting to get the 411 on what will happen next year. I think the next thing is really going to have to be someone trying to organize a record and getting it together. I think there's a really good band there to do it. But, you know, the thought of it is more daunting than a 'Mats or a Soul Asylum record combined."