Q&A With Tommy Stinson

MAGNET recently caught up with Tommy Stinson to discuss the Friday Night Is Killing Me reissue (out today on Omnivore) and the revitalization of Bash & Pop, which, earlier this year, released a belated follow-up, Anything Can Happen. A revamped version of the band (drummer Steve Foley and his bassist brother, Kevin, have both passed away) is on tour with the Psychedelic Furs this fall.

How did this reissue come about?
Here’s the goofy bit: It was supposed to come out in tandem with the vinyl version (in January), but my manager wanted to get that out soon-ish, so he had Warner Bros. jump. Having Omnivore put out the expanded version now was kind of a boner move, to be frank. People are kind of pissed off about it.

How did you write songs back then?
Just like I make records now. Over the years, I collected thoughts and stuff, and when I was ready to record, I went, “OK, which songs work best together.” Some—like “First Steps”—are as old as Don’t Tell A Soul. I had a good batch of songs to record.

“Tiny Pieces” is such a great pop tune. How did that one come about?
Oh, man, I had that thing sitting around for a while. I remember writing the lyrics to that back in Minneapolis in the middle of the night. I got up, grabbed the brandy, went into the living room, sat down in my jams and penned out the words. Then I came up with that crazy riff, which doesn’t make any sense to play—but it’s there.

Why didn’t Bash & Pop last longer?
The record company didn’t do shit. We put the album out and toured behind it a little bit, and then our bass player, Kevin, got into some trouble and he couldn’t tour. I moved to California and tried to continue on with just Steve. But I finally got to the point where I wanted to I switch it up, and I asked Warner Bros. to let me go. Then I started Perfect. You can only beat your head against the wall so many times before you realize you’re fuckin’ going crazy.

Why do you think Warner Bros. dropped the ball?
If you think about it in terms of where music was heading at the time, grunge was just getting its legs on. So rock-based pop music like I was making wasn’t happening.

You’re living in Hudson, N.Y., these days. Anything you miss about your old hometown of Minneapolis?
It was such a vibrant musical community back then. We all hung out; we all were friends; we were inspired by each other. I miss that.

So you’re touring with the Furs.
Yeah, Richard Butler lives around here, and he and I have become buds. We played this house party in St. Louis, and he and his wife showed up and we had a fuckin’ hoot together. He came to my 50th birthday party. The Replacements always loved the Furs; their first record was huge on my playlist. It was a mind-blower to me.

What’s it been like revisiting the old Bash & Pop songs?
It’s been fun. We play about half the record, and I think I’m gonna have to switch some stuff up in the future. People love that record—not a lot of them, but it meant a lot to the people who bought it. You gotta respect that.

—Hobart Rowland