Today in “Stuff From the Vault”, here’s an excerpt of a PW interview with the magazine “The Bob” from June 1990, where Paul discussed his impressions of each Replacements album.
The Bob: “Would you mind doing an auto discography and talk about each one of the LPs?”
Paul: “Of our stuff?”
The Bob: “Yeah.”
Paul: “Don’t listen to it.”
The Bob: “You can either start from the earliest one or start from the new one.”
Paul: “Ask me a question on each one and I’ll try and give you a suitable lie.”
The Bob: “Well SORRY MA – I still listen to it and enjoy it. Do you ever listen to it, and if you do, do you still enjoy it?”
Paul: “I was at an all-ages show about 2 months ago. I went with my sister and they put it on. It was really loud and I didn’t know who it was until the second song. So that tells you how often I listen to that. And I was thinking ‘Who the FUCK is this playing this old-hat shit?’ You know, some crank band that thinks they’re playing rock and roll. And sure enough, it was me. And they couldn’t believe that I didn’t realize it was the Replacements. But I always do that. Whenever I turn on the radio and we’re on, I immediately don’t recognize us. I just think ‘This is familiar, who is this?’.”
The Bob: “The thing that set SORRY MA apart from other hard-core band of the times was the lyrics. I’ve always thought the Replacements’ strongest point were you your lyrics. A few albums ago in an interview you claimed you were illiterate. That seems so ironic because insightful lyrics are what make the Replacements stand out.”
Paul: “Well yeah I mean, Einstein was dyslexic [laughs]. But I think that’s what saved us on SORRY MA, because musically there’s nothing really going on there. I guess I was from a different school of thought at the time – everyone else was getting into whatever was hip at the time, which I guess was more politically-oriented things. And I had probably just met my first girl a week ago so I was obsessed with that.
The Bob: “The next record STINK was all-out, hard, hard-core.”
Paul: “Well, yeah, that one rang the falsest of them all. It’s funny that a lot of people still like that one the best. It was done in two nights. We recorded it on Saturday and mixed it on Sunday afternoon. That was kind of our way of making a demo tape to send out to the clubs to say: ‘See we can play this stuff too. Can we have a gig?’. And then we did like a full year of touring with Husker Du and Black Flag and Suicidal Tendencies, whoever. I think that was the short-lived period when we thought we were a hard-core band. And then we’d go back to the van and listen to Ted Nugent [laughter].
The Bob: “HOOTENANNY was a period of transition for you, because it started getting away from the hard-core and took a turn towards slower, more emotional songs like ‘Within Your Reach'”.
Paul: “Hmm-mm. I think each record is almost a reaction to the one before it. It was like a year or six months of touring and doing the STINK thing, and the last thing I wanted to do was really bash out another one. You could hear me or less trying to find my voice, or trying to find out where I fit in – ‘I don’t FEEL like a skinhead, I like pop songs, I like bubblegum stuff’. That was in a way trying to fuse what I had been listening to growing up into what was happening at the time.”
The Bob: “LET IT BE is the one that made people realize that, Hey this band is something else, this band is definitely not a hard-core band.”
Paul: “This band knows Pete Buck” [laughter]
The Bob: “The songs were kind of transcendent compared to your earlier stuff. That album has some of my favorite songs of all time like ‘I Will Dare’, ‘Answering Machine’ and ‘Unsatisfied’.”
Paul: “And every one of those three was written at a turbulent period of my life. I’m glad we recorded then – had it been 2 months later, it might have been different. I hate when I look at it that way, because then we’re back to the question of ‘Well, do you need that tension in your life to create great art?’ But it seems to come back to the fact that those songs that stay with you are the ones that were written at a hard time.”
The Bob: “And then TIM was the first major-label release.”
Paul: “That was right when we were splintering with Bob, Bob wasn’t on much of the record. And Tommy Ederlyi for all the help he gave us, did a pretty crappy-ass job of mixing the thing. I mean, he mixed it on head phones cause he was deaf from playing with the Ramones. So it didn’t help up a whole lot. But it’s got some great tunes on it.”
The Bob: “On PLEASED TO MEET ME, you played guitar by yourself and I think you did a great job.”
Paul: “Thank you. That one was coming out of TIM and not knowing what we were doing by getting rid of Bob. SO we looked to someone older and Dickinson was perfect because he sort of took us by the hand and said, like ‘Don’t worry boys, just put on the clown makeup one more time and make a punk rock record’. And it was like ‘Sure OK, we know how to do that.'”
The Bob: “Have you seen Bob recently?”
Paul: “Yeah just the other night Tommy and I were out and Bob came in and it was nice, ’cause we all sat down and it was like he had never left-within 2 minutes we were both insulting each other and had our arms around each other. There’s definitely alot of love there. I think any bad feelings are definitely water under the bridge.”
The Bob: “DON’T TELL A SOUL kinda shocked people by its mellowness. I liked the songs but I was disappointed by the ultra-heavy-sheen production.”
Paul: “Hmmmm. And I think that was the problem of having a third party in there – having a guy mix it who didn’t know the band, and wasn’t there for the recording, and more than anything didn’t listen to the words. He thought ‘I’m getting paid, this is my job to make it sound like Eddie Money, and that’s what I’m gonna do’. And us at the time, we were figuring, ‘Hey, it might work’. But it didn’t.”
The Bob: “Are you disappointed with it now?”
Paul: “Ummm, no. I mean, of all the songs, ‘Asking Me Lies’ I still listen to that a lot. And not so much for the lyrics, but I just kinda like the groove that Tommy and Chris were playing. I think DON’T TELL A SOUL is gonna be a sleeper like TIM was. A lot of people didn’t like TIM at first, and now I get all this: ‘Oh, there’s great songs on TIM’. I think that it’s the new TIM, it’ll be the one that people come back to later.”
The Bob: “And then there’s the new one, ALL SHOOK DOWN. Some of the best songs you’ve ever written and I think your best singing of all time.”
Paul: “Hell, if that’s an endorsement, then I’ll take it. Yeah, I agree. And it’s a reaction to the last record which was a little too slick so I made sure we pulled it in the other direction.”
The Bob: “I haven’t seen the album’s first single ‘Merry Go Round’ in the stores yet but I understand that Tommy does the song on the B-side.”
Paul: “Yeah that’s called ‘Satellite’. We just recorded that about 3 weeks ago. That was really kinda fun. That was the first thing we had done as a band in a long time. I sort of took the role as producer, and Tommy took the helm, playing the guitars and singing and playing bass. And Chris and Slim added their parts. It would have been nice to have done the new Replacements record that way. And it did open a new door that I guess we could work this way if we wanted to. But the album has to go top 40 before they’ll even press that up.”
The Bob: “On ‘My Little Problem’ you sing a duet with Johnette Napolitano. Was that song originally written as a duet?”
Paul: “Yeah it was. And it was kinda written with her in mind. She was one of my first choices, or I thought Joan Jett might be fun. But yeah, it was definitely written with a female vocalist in mind. And Johnette and I, were similar in alot of ways and I figured it would be a nice match. She blows me away. Actually I had a hard time keeping up with her [laughs]. She’s cool.
The Bob: “‘The Last’ could be taken in a lot of different ways. You could be singing about the last love, as in getting married. Or you could be singing about the last Replacements album, implying that this could be the last one-“
Paul: “Or of course the last drink.”
The Bob: “Exactly, that was my third….”
Paul: “Yeah and it’s all three of those”.