With the first phase of a long-awaited reissue campaign beginning this week, the Replacements are back in the spotlight 17 years removed from their breakup. Even more notable: principal members Paul Westerberg and Tommy Stinson aren’t ruling out the possibility of a reunion.
Stinson tells Billboard the group has received lucrative offers to perform at Coachella and other major festivals, and that he and Westerberg were close to accepting this year. The group would have been rounded out by session drummer Josh Freese (replacing original drummer Chris Mars, who has retired from music to focus on painting), and an unnamed lead guitarist (replacing Stinson’s late half-brother Bob, who died in 1995).
“We actually talked about it again this year, and I think there was a consensus that, you know, maybe it wasn’t the right time (to reunite), or maybe it is the right time,” Stinson says. “Paul and I were kind of in cahoots talking to them [and] talking to (his manager) Darren (Hill). There were some things thrown out, and there were other festivals that wanted it too, if we were going to do it.
“At the last minute, it just didn’t seem like the right thing to do, so we didn’t do it. But I think Paul and I have something to offer each other still. I think that’s pretty obvious when we get together.”
“I’m very hesitant about dragging the name out there and what damage we could do to the legend,” Westerberg offers. “Whatever we did, someone would want something else. If I went up there straight, they’d want us wasted. If we were f–ked up, they’d want us to be this or that.
“But, I don’t know,” he continues. “The records hold the key to the whole thing. So if I was ever going to play, I’d like to play once the whole shooting match is out, because I don’t think I could physically get up there and bellow these 18 songs (from) that first record. That’s just sheer youth there. I can’t find that in a bottle or a pill. I’m just too creaky for that.
The group’s first four albums arrive in remastered, expanded form tomorrow (April 22) via Rhino. Reissues of the band’s four major-label successors for Sire will follow later this year.
For extensive Q&A’s with Westerberg and Stinson, click here.