When you hear of an artist taking five years to fully complete an album, names like Boston and Def Leppard come to mind, not a former member of garage punkers, the Replacements. But that's roughly how long it took former 'Mats bassist Tommy Stinson to complete his new album, Village Gorilla Head. Though the record is Stinson's first under his own name, he hasn't been idle since the Replacements split in 1991, recording and releasing material with two of his bands, Bash and Pop and Perfect. But by Village Gorilla Head's July 27th release, eight years will have passed since his last release, Perfect's 1996 EP When Squirrels Play Chicken.
"I didn't really plan on making a record five years ago," explains Stinson. He originally started the project at his own home studio, but the record got sidetracked when Stinson accepted Axl Rose's invitation to join Guns n' Roses around the same time. It wasn't until Pixies leader Black offered the bassist use of his recording studio and practice pad that he truly began work on the record. "I've been around the Frank Black camp for years," he says, "done some recording with him, and my good friend Dave Philips is also one of the Catholics' [Black's backing band] guitar players. He was just real generous about his stuff and let me use it all while those guys toured Europe in March and April of '03."
What followed were recording sessions that Stinson found satisfying – both personally and professionally. "It was the most fun I've had making a record yet. Everyone who contributed put a lot of love and laughs into the sessions, which is really hard to do when you're on someone else's clock." The "everyone" was quite a supporting cast, including Philips, Gn'R band mates keyboardist Dizzy Reed and guitarist Richard Fortus, as well as journeyman drummer Josh Freese. Backing vocal contributions were made by the young daughter of the album's executive producer, Sean Beavan, plus several of her elementary school friends.
The eleven-track Village Gorilla Head contains such individual standouts as the rockers "Motivation" and "Moment Too Soon," the reggae-ish "Hey You," and the ballad "Light of Day," which Stinson describes as "One of my favorites as it is about one of my best girlfriends. I rarely write about someone so directly." Stinson plans to hit the road to support the new set, with New York rockers the Figgs serving as his backing band. Stinson says the tour will run "throughout the next year or so, as long as they can stand it."
As for Chinese Democracy, the mirage of an album Gn'R has been working on for nearly a decade, Stinson is fairly tight-lipped. "All I can say right now is the record is going to come out sometime sooner than later," he says, "and I will tour with them when they call me to do so."
Village Gorilla Head track list:
Without a View
Moment Too Soon
Village Gorilla Head
Bite Your Tongue
Light of Day