NEW YORK – Stephen Colbert might want to have Tommy Stinson play on his show more often.
Ever since the late night host unplugged and then tackled Stinson during his band Bash & Pop’s Jan. 19 performance, Colbert’s ratings have been through the roof, to the point where he has now beaten perennial top dog Jimmy Fallon’s “Tonight Show” four weeks running.
“The whole thing was completely unscripted. There’s nothing about that I could have even made up,” Stinson told Fox News of the scene, where Colbert unceremoniously cut the band's song short. “It was funny, it was completely off the cuff and hopefully a fun bit.”
Stinson is riding a similar wave of popularity since Bash & Pop’s well-received album “Anything Could Happen” debuted the day after the Colbert performance, followed by a sold-out East Coast club tour and a string of West Coast dates that started in Seattle on Tuesday night.
“We’re having a ball doing it, people seem to like it,” Stinson said. “My whole thing is pretty simple. I’ve done this for so long, that I really just want everyone to have a good time, and us to do our best and put on our best show.”
The raucous sound of “Anything Could Happen” will be familiar to fans of the legendary ‘80s post-punk group The Replacements that Stinson formed as a pre-teen with his big brother Bob, Paul Westerberg, and Chris Mars. But while the music still sounds like its being played by teens and twentysomethings, Stinson’s lyrics now belie a creeping maturity that the wiseguy rocker has a hard time accepting.
“Well I turned 50 and I don’t think I have any chance yet of growing up, but there’s still hope,” he laughed. “I keep getting an ID that says I’m growing up, and I’m getting older, but it doesn’t seem to translate to my daily life.”
Stinson at least exhibits some of the trappings of adulthood. He has a house in upstate Hudson, New York, is the father of two daughters (one in her 20s, the other in grade school), and does relief work with the Haitian school Timkatec that teaches trades to kids in need.
He also pulls no punches when it comes to his views on President Trump's election. (Stinson even had a personal stake of sorts after Vice Presidential candidate Tim Kaine said during the election that The Replacements' classic "Let It Be" was one of his favorite albums.)
“I’m politically minded and I’m pretty troubled by a lot of things. I frankly can’t believe I still have to live in this country for a little while longer, but I think I do because of my kid, both my kids,” Stinson said. “But I think that given an out, I’d get the hell out of here as quick as I could.”
The Minnesota native’s political stance may come as a surprise to those who know him from The Replacements and Guns N' Roses (where he played bass for almost two decades) -- two bands that never wore their politics on their sleeves. In each of those groups, Stinson had to deal with notoriously difficult, stubborn lead singer/songwriters in Paul Westerberg and Axl Rose.
“They’re a lot more similar than they are different. It goes to their genius,” he said. “They’re both great songwriters, both great performers, and have their own particular peccadillos that make their lives what it makes them. You know, you deal with that. We all have our bits.”
After playing in much beloved bands for four of his five decades on Earth, Stinson realizes how charmed his life has been, and says he’s ready to give back.
“I got gratitude. I’ve been very lucky, and I appreciate that,” he said. “There’s still a whole lot of work to do. As much as I like performing and doing what I do, I think there’s a lot more out there that I’m interested in.”
But before he turns that page, Stinson might want another go at Colbert, who seemed to get the upper hand in their TV fisticuffs.
“Guess we have to have a rematch. I’ll bust out my wrestling outfit for that.”