The London shows (June 2 and 3) are fast-approaching and The Guardian has a great piece on the band that includes interviews with Paul and Tommy.
The Replacements: ‘God almighty, what were we trying to prove?’
They wound up audiences, were often too drunk to play and got banned from late-night TV. Thirty years later, the rock’n’roll antagonists have, they say, finally learned to behave.
The Current has already picked their nine best quotes from the Replacements’ interview with the Guardian, here are a few of mine:
“I’d been to jail three times already, for fucking just being a little fuck-up” – Tommy talking about himself at 11, when he was given a bass guitar by Bob in an effort to keep him out of trouble.
“There was a game that had to be played that had nothing to do with music and everything to do with stroking someone else and fucking doing the whole song and dance that was completely foreign and, quite frankly, illegal to us,” Stinson says of their attitude to career management. “It was reprehensible some of the things they wanted us to do that were supposed to make our career bigger and ultimately make them the money. I swear to God we tried several times to get in line with that and we just couldn’t do it. Our personalities would not allow us to do that thing.”
“I admit there’s a lack of dignity,” says the Replacements’ singer, songwriter and rhythm guitarist, Paul Westerberg. “But that’s part of what being the band is. You have to go out on a limb and take a chance. Falling on your face when you’re young and good looking is one thing, but when you’re an old man it can be quite humiliating.”
“I knew that was a good little song” – Paul on “Skyway”, which The Guardian describes as “the perfect acoustic miniature”.
We had a metal maniac guitar player and an artist for a drummer. And me, a closet folkie. It made for a nice mix of unpredictablility. I think you’re hard pressed to find another group that had as many facets to them as we did, and going through the songs now there’s an unlimited variety of everything from quasi showtunes to fake speed metal. God almighty, what were we trying to prove?” – Paul on what enabled the band to have such a diverse sound.
“Our nemesis was the Cult – they were on the same label, and all of our records were pushed back or held because the Cult had a new record out,” he says. “So they’d hire someone to throw in a bunch of compression and reverb to make it sound like it would work on the radio and that kind of funny business. But it didn’t sound right, it didn’t look right. We were just…Midwestern.” – Paul on being Midwestern, not putting up with any funny business and having to compete with long-haired guys from England.
“Since starting up with the band again it’s kind of shaken every cobweb out of my head and got me rattled in a way – probably in a good way. I can’t relax any more. I can’t sit down and watch the television. I’m torn between the world of being a father, a homeowner and a creative artist and a rock’n’roll singer. I was doing the crossword puzzle waiting for you to call, and that’s about as relaxing as I get.” – Paul
It’s a long article that covers the band’s history and my only quibble is the mention of Paul’s “quietly dignified solo career”. I think Grandpaboy might have a quibble as well with being labeled “quietly dignified”.
Also check out this feature The Guardian ran in April, “The Replacements: 10 of the best” , with their picks from some of the greatest Replacements songs. It expands on the praise for “Skyway” (and rightly so):
I interviewed Westerberg last week for a forthcoming Guardian feature and he told me, half joking, that Skyway was the first good song he’d written. It’s not true: he’d written plenty already by that time. But it might be the most perfect song he’s ever written. It’s nothing more than a simple acoustic love song, but it’s rooted perfectly in place – in the skyways of Minneapolis, the enclosed passages between buildings so the locals don’t have to venture into the winter snows (Minnesota is the coldest of the lower 48 states). A man keeps seeing a woman, he wonders if they’ll meet, and when he gets his chance “there wasn’t a damn thing I could do or say”. That’s all there is to it. It’s sad and true and heartfelt.