Eleven years after the Replacements called it quits, the group is eyeing an reunion. "We'll get together again one day," says former frontman Paul Westerberg. "It will take a while, or it might take a few legal swipes of the pen, but we ain't over."
A partial reunion nearly happened last month when bassist Tommy Stinson planned to join Westerberg on a tour of the Midwest. "He and I and [drummer] Michael Bland were going to retrace Buddy Holly's steps on the Winter Carnival [which promoters continued despite Holly, the Big Bopper and Richie Valens losing their lives in a plane crash. "We figured we would avenge their deaths," Westerberg says -- but Stinson had to back out because of duties with his current band, Guns n' Roses.
Stinson and Westerberg did regroup in the studio, however, as Stinson supplies backing vocals on a handful of tracks on Westerberg's new solo albums, Mono (released under the alias Granpaboy) and Stereo. "I called him in February to say, 'Let's do this,'" Westerberg says. "He was the only guy in the world I knew who could play the bass and sing that part, without even having to listen to it."
Westerberg has also bounced the idea of a reunion off the Replacements' other surviving founding member, drummer Chris Mars, after a chance meeting in Westerberg's driveway. (Guitarist Bob Stinson -- Tommy's older brother -- left the group in 1986 and was replaced by Slim Dunlap. Bob died from a drug overdose in 1995). "[Mars] was riding by with his wife in a convertible and I didn't recognize him," Westerberg says. "He pulled up in front of my house, and I thought, 'Who is this asshole?' Because he'd gained a little weight, but he looked really happy and was happy as a clam. I said, 'So what do you say? Should we put it together?' And he kind of laughed and said, 'Maybe for a week.' I read him instantly that he had moved on from this. He would do it for a week, but he wouldn't want to rehearse and stuff -- but he would be up for a few laughs."
In the event of a new Replacements album, Westerberg doubts that he and Stinson -- who, since leaving the Replacements, has fronted bands of his own, first Bash and Pop, then Perfect -- would collaborate on new material. "The closest we ever came to collaborating was on [1990 b-side] 'Satellite,'" he says. "That was all his song and I sort of suggested the 'la la la' part and changed one other part, but it was his song and he had done that for me a few times. We would do that again, but we would never sit down toe to toe and write a song because we're both songwriters. It's like Van Morrison couldn't sit down and write a song with Bob Dylan."
As for his own music, Westerberg declined to tour after the release of his last album Suicaine Gratifaction and he's still weighing his options this time out. "I have to create something to make it exciting for me again," he says, "because I'm no closer to wanting to get up and play my entire catalog for my fans as I was three or four years ago.