|Kid rocker grows up in solo bow
By ISAAC GUZMAN
If there were a stock market for calamity, Tommy Stinson would be a rich man.
At 13, he joined the Replacements, the notoriously dissolute band whose shambling concerts in the early '80s frequently devolved into sloppy rave-ups. The group's wild reputation was only bolstered by the early death of Tommy's brother Bob, the outfit's founding guitarist.
When the Replacements called it quits in 1991, Stinson formed his own bands, Bash & Pop and Perfect. Those acts followed in the Replacements' careening footsteps and, in the case of Perfect, never even managed to get a full album released while the group was still together.
To top it all off, in 1998 Stinson joined the latest incarnation of Guns N' Roses, which might have been a triumphant and profitable move if leader Axl Rose's notorious perfectionism hadn't delayed the release of "Chinese Democracy" for most of a decade (and his mercurial disposition hadn't scuttled 2002's North American tour just a handful of shows into the trek).
Through all the madness, Stinson, who plays tomorrow at the Mercury Lounge and Thursday at Southpaw, has managed to grow up. And on his first solo album, "Village Gorilla Head," he demonstrates a newfound level of polish that betrays little of the upheaval in his past.
In addition to some Stones-y rockers, there are atmospheric tunes that recall late-'90s trip hop and even a few that might pass for ballads. Stinson made the album during yet another GNR hiatus, when ex-Perfect guitarist Dave Phillips had time off from his own gig in Frank Black's band.
"I finally had the time and I had the money to do it on my own," he says. "I wanted to kind of be experimental and I got a chance to do that."
Stinson says it was Rose who gave him the chutzpah to try something new. While Rose has now developed the aura of a madman, Stinson says his restless vision inspired him.
"I have a lot of admiration for what Axl does and how he does it," Stinson says. "And to have the [guts] to do this record the way I did, which is all over the map, I got that from him."
But Stinson also acknowledges that the madness surrounding Axl came with its own set of pressures. And taking time for his own project was liberating - even if he's now more than ready to rejoin GNR, which he claims is on the verge of finally finishing "Chinese Democracy."
"It was good to get out and tour," he says. "But now I want to get back to it because I'm getting sick of myself. I have ADD, dude."