|Replacements, Guns N' Roses member brings solo act to Reverb
By DAN HAUGEN, Courier Staff Writer
CEDAR FALLS --- After more than two decades of anything, self-parody becomes an easy trap to fall in.
Tommy Stinson avoids the paradigm on his latest, sonically diverse collection of songs, "Village Gorilla Head."
From the title track's trip-hoppy grooves to straight-up Stones-style rockers like "Something's Wrong," the disc's sound weaves genres without ever unraveling.
A founding member of legendary Minneapolis band the Replacements and present member of the new Guns N' Roses, Stinson finishes his solo acoustic tour Friday with an early evening performance at the Reverb.
Speaking from Atlanta while on the road, Stinson says the new songs have worked well stripped down.
"They still convey the same emotion, maybe even more," he says. "You've got a little more on the line."
Most of the album's songs actually began on acoustic guitar, Stinson says, which makes it easier bringing them back to that level.
The album is his first since 1996, when his last band, Perfect, put out a five-song CD. It's also his first major label release in a dozen years. Stinson says he is still trying to figure out the industry, having been up and down the ladder from half-empty bars to Saturday Night Live.
"I'm just still trying to find a way to make it work," he says. "If I can make a record that sells enough so I can make another record, then I'm happy."
"Village Gorilla Head" took five years to write and record, and the result is Stinson's best and most mature work to date. His bratty yap and wail still turns up on some tracks, but elsewhere he mellows with a throaty croon.
"I haven't gotten sick of it yet," he says of the disc, which was released last summer. "I usually don't listen to any of my records past the mastering process."
After The Reverb gig, Stinson will head back home to Burbank, Calif., where he moved from Minneapolis in 1993. Next, he says, Guns N' Roses is gearing up for a late spring CD release, hopefully followed by touring.
Launch Radio Networks is reporting that VELVET REVOLVER are nominated for three Grammy Awards this Sunday night, including Best Rock Album for "Contraband", Best Hard Rock Performance for "Slither", and Best Rock Song for "Fall to Pieces". But despite the nominations, the album sales figures, and the hit status of "Fall to Pieces", lead guitarist Slash told Launch that the response they get from their audience is what matters the most. "It doesn't really matter what it says on paper, or what the record company is telling us is going on," he said. "It's really about that immediate reaction you get from the people that attend the concerts, you know. No matter what — that's really where you're gonna get the response from."
VELVET REVOLVER, U2 vocalist Bono, Stevie Wonder, Norah Jones, Alicia Keys, Tim McGraw and Brian Wilson will all participate in an all-star live performance of the BEATLES classic, "Across The Universe", during the Grammy Awards ceremony, with Slash acting as musical director. A recording of the song will be made available immediately for downloading at the Apple iTunes Music Store. All proceeds from sales of the song, which will cost 99 cents, will go toward tsunami relief efforts.
Video footage of the performance will be available at CBS.com shortly after the 47th annual Grammy Awards are broadcast on CBS-TV.
In a recent interview with the Associated Press, VELVET REVOLVER frontman Scott Weiland addressed persistent rumors of a rift between him and the group's lead guitarist, Slash. The band suddenly fired their management company, with Slash opting to hire his own manager while the rest of the band chose a different one. And there were reports of clashes at a U.K. photo shoot.
"I love Slash and Slash loves me, and he and I get along great," Weiland said defensively. However, he added, "there are always conflicts that exist in every band," and "the only problem that Slash and I have are a couple of external variables and those external variables are private matters."
He declined to elaborate. "Bands have problems all the time. It's a marriage. It's a family," he said.
Is it egos? Too many chefs in the kitchen?
"Everyone's got an ego, right?" Weiland said. "One thing we've learned through the differences that we've experienced and the problems we've gone through in our last bands because of ego problems and mishaps — and that's how to keep a band together."
Will this toxic music cocktail drive rock to explosive new heights, or will they crash and explode?
"That's what you call the Evel Knievel factor," Weiland said playfully. "People didn't pay big bucks just to watch him jump. If he never crashed and burned once in a while, he wouldn't have sold out those stadiums."