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'Mats Memories

Your first PW/Mats memories

By 18.Jul.0718 Comments

So when did you first discover Paul and/or the Replacements?

I will admit to being a little behind the curve on the Mats. I distinctly remember hearing “Bastards of Young” in a record store in college probably around 1985-86 and liking the tune but I never acted on it (this was sadly during my MTV/hair metal phase.) Ditto with “I’ll Be You” – saw the video, liked the song but never went further. Fast forward to 1990 where one of the guys who worked me asked me if I had ever heard of the Replacements. I told him I’d heard of the name but didn’t know much about them. He just smiled, handed me a cassette of Please to Meet Me and said that I had to listen to it immediately. I was blown away. I proceeded to buy All Shook Down, which had come out recently, and worked my way through the back catalog. I got to see the band once – on July 4th in Chicago for what turned out to the last show they’d ever play. Wherever you are – thanks Wayne for insisting I listen to that tape.


I am just a simple fisherman. I used to sell dope on the streets of Guam but I stumbled upon a copy of Please to Meet Me on 8 track and it changed my life. I gave up my life of hedonism and devoted my life to rock. And grape big league chew. Seriously, have you had that shit - it’s awesome. So now I wake up at dawn, put on my Sony headphones and head to the docks. If you’re ever in Hyannisport, need a place to stay and don’t mind the odor of smelt, you can find me left of the isle.


  • Jodi says:

    Zook, you’re a blogger now, baby. Way to go!

  • scooterboy says:

    i feel a little dirty “blogging”. don’t tell my mom, ok? i got into the mats after bob left…. is this going to work? i’m going to hit submit & see what happens.

    i love you all.

  • Jodi says:

    Scooter, technically you haven’t blogged yet, you’ve only left a comment. Which is awesome!

    Who knew Westernerds were such a bunch of technophobes?

  • scooterboy says:

    how do i blog, then? do i need to embed a link to wonkette or something?

  • Jodi says:

    Blogging would require that you come up with some sort of original content, “I.E. Scooterboy’s Top 10 Replacements Lyrics” you enter that title & those lyrics on this page, push publish, and voila! Blogging.

    Then you send the link to all your friends so they can see how 1999 you are.

  • scooterboy says:

    i don’t have to take this abuse.

  • Jodi says:

    But you will, because you like it.

  • Smoo says:

    Ok, I’m going to give it a whirl. Hold me Scooter!

    I was shooting baskets in a gym in Fargo ND with a radio blaring. “Here Comes a Regular” comes on. I stop shooting before the first verse is over. Blew me away. But they went right into another song without telling me who it was. I was obsessed though. When I got back to Bismarck, I went into record stores and tried to figure out who it was, I knew it was something about a regular but none of the rubes could help me. About three months passed and I heard the song again. I called the radio station and eventually got someone who could tell me who it was. I bought Tim as soon as I could find it and they have been my favorite band since.

  • Placemat says:

    1980’s JR High, & everybody wants to fit in. All the cool kids are either into sports, girls or music. Skating wasn’t really considered a sport in those days, girls were fucking scary, so that left music.

    Only one problem. Music had never played a big part in my life. I listened to the car radio, but I never paid much attention. My parents had some Bread eight tracks gathering dust in their nine foot stereo sideboard, but they never played them. At that point in my life I owned exactly two cassette tapes, the “Ghostbusters” & “Footloose”. I didn’t know much, but I kinda figured “Dancing in the Sheets” wasn’t cool.

    So with no older siblings to guide me, I turned to my close personal friend, MTV. After a week or two of intense education, I had become familiar with a number of hair metal bands. I couldn’t really say I’d liked anything I’d heard, but at least I learned some band names. Armed with my vast new knowledge, & a pocket full of paper route money I headed out to buy my first record.

    For a small town there where a number of places to buy music. You had the sMall (so named because it consisted of only a handful of outlets), a few department stores, & couple of local shops. The cool place to go was a hole-in-the wall joint located downtown. Wanting not just to buy music, but to also be seen buying music, the cool shop was my destination.

    I’d never set foot in that particular store before. It was dingy looking from the outside, & the wild posters that covered the front windows were intimidating. Deep down, I feared that once you entered the odds were good you’d be stabbed or forced to consume illegal drugs. But that was before, I reasoned. I was a music connoisseur now. I knew who Def Leppard was.

    Walking through the front door one was immediately assaulted by a stereo playing at a volume my mother would call deafening. The smell of incense hung thick in the air, a sure sign of drug use. With the door shut the place wasn’t just gloomy, it was dark & possibly hiding assassins. Standing in the entryway while my pupils dilated, I was tempted to turn tail & run, but I dug deep & held fast.

    Once my eyes adjusted, I was greeted by a large 3 x 5 ft framed B&W photograph. The image depicted four scruffy white guys on stage. The kid with the bass looked to be no older than I, the scrawny guy in the middle was wearing mascara & playing guitar, the drummer was obscured except for an afro of hair peaking out behind his kit, & the chubby dude on the right was balding & …wearing a dress? Little did I know at the time, but this picture was my virgin look at the Replacements in all their glory.

    Lacking a specific list of wants, I proceed to wander around the store aimlessly. I leafed through records, poked in bins of 45s & studied the cassette tapes that lined the walls. Eventually, I gravitated to a small selection of tapes in the corner of the store. This area was unique since it was the only shelf not locked behind sheets of Plexiglas. I could paw freely through these tapes without asking for assistance from the sketchy looking clerk behind the counter. I had found the Punk Rock.

    The Punk tapes spoke to me. The cover art was graphic, the song titles lurid. I had enough money for two tapes, & “Nevermind the Bullocks“, by the Sex Pistols was my first choice. I’d never heard the Pistols, but I’d heard of them. A friend’s older brother mentioned them in passing, & a name like that makes an impression when your thirteen. My second choice was more difficult, & I had just about decided to save my ducats when I spied a red & blue tape towards the bottom of the shelf, “Sorry Ma, Forgot to Take Out the Trash“, by some nobodies called the Replacements. The cover was vivid. The band looked angry. What the hell, why not?

    I walked to the register & dumped my purchases on the counter. A lone clerk, who up to that point had done an outstanding job of ignoring me, rang me up. When he noticed the Replacements tape, his whole demeanor changed. He smiled, praised my choice in music & asked if I was a Mats fan. “Who the hell are the Mats?”, I wondered while shaking my head no. The employee’s enthusiasm wasn’t deterred by my ignorance & he seemed confident that I soon would be. He waxed poetic about the record for a few minutes, & thanked me for my business.

    When I got home, I grabbed my walk-man & listened to “Bullocks” first. I liked it well enough but didn’t exactly relate. I wasn’t an anarchist, & I didn’t give a damn about any Queen. It was “Sorry Ma” that blew my socks off. This was music I understood. “Takin’ a Ride“, “Hanging Downtown“, “Shiftless When Idle“, these guys were singing songs about things in my life. Then there was the humor. The Pistols were angry, the Mats were funny. I laughed out loud while deciphering Paul’s scrawled comedy in the liner notes.

    It took a few weeks to scrape up the cash, but when I finally returned to the record shop I picked up the entire Replacements catalog right up through their current release, Tim. The same clerk as before rang me up, this time with a self satisfied grin.

    At first it was the early records the I dug the most. “Sorry Ma“ & “Stink“ were loud & fast. These were records I could skate to. The later albums dealt with more mature themes I hadn’t yet experienced, but as I grew older the records grew with me. I fell for a girl. I got drunk.
    I started to get the tunes that were once vague.

    Turns out that aloof clerk was actually the owner of the store & one of the biggest Mats fans I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting. He’d seen dozens of gigs, & had the stories & bootlegs to prove it. It wasn’t long before I started buying blank tapes & asking him to dub copies of shows from his personal collection. I can still remember listening to my first Mats boot & being astounded by the sloppy & raw performance (It was quite some time before I realized that all rock shows are not like this).

    I became a regular at the store, haunting the place every chance I got. The owner saw in me an eager young disciple (with money) and took me under his wing. He helped steer my exploration, & soon I was listening to a whole new world of music you couldn’t find on the radio or MTV. The Mats were my gateway drug, & while I’ve gone on to dig other bands, none have ever become an addiction like the Mats have.

    I had to wait until the PTMM tour to see my first Replacements gig. I was still underage (& looked about nine) but my friends from the record shop knew a few tricks & smuggled me in. My first rock show, my favorite band & alcohol. Does it get any better? The show was loud, sweaty, & it rocked! If there was any doubts to my fandom, that night laid them to rest.

    I’ve never had much luck, & I’m too cynical to believe in fate. Yet, one day twenty-something years ago, I was blessed. I went into a record store to buy some music & fit in. Instead I discovered my favorite band & fell in love. The irony of coarse being in my attempts to conform, I fell in love with a bunch of misfits.

    At the time, I couldn’t wait to impress a peer by name dropping favorite band, & can still remember the first girl who asked…

    “The Replacements!”, I exclaimed.

    “Who?”, she said.

  • zook says:

    Awesome story, Placemat! I wish I someone/place to influence me like that when I was 13…or 18 for that matter.

  • Placemat says:

    Yeah, He was a cool guy.

    But, He’d be even cooler if he’d hand over that giant photograph.

    20 yrs of begging, & the bastard still won’t part with it.

  • Joey Ramone says:

    Great story Placemat, even the non-Replacement parts about walking into an Indi record store and trying to find that special place/niche. Also liked how you point out the difference between the Bristish punk songs and those of the Replacements that tie back to the USA and even the mid-west at times. Sometimes acts are tied to the geography which helps and hurts (L Reed).

  • Nazareth says:

    I’m 24 years old. I never saw the ‘Mats in their heyday or otherwise. My first chance at seeing anything ‘Mats related was PW and His Only Friends. My next chance will be Guns n Roses. Quite a different perspective than somebody that saw the ‘Mats at First Ave. in 1981. Either way, the ‘Mats changed my life, even if it took almost ten years to do so.

    I was a teenage punk rocker.

  • Nazareth says:

    I was a teenage punk rocker…(continued)

    I was into Subhumans, the Exploited, etc. I had a different hair color every week, and constantly tried to piss of the “jocks.” I was 14 years old. One day in history class, one of the aforementioned jocks leaned to me and said, “hey man do you like the Replacements?” You know how this conversation goes. I said “Who?” and he told me i couldn’t possibly like punk without hearing the replacements. He first played me a record with a blue and red cover. I loved it. It was fast, sloppy and the singer yelled, so it had to be good. He then played me the other album he had. It had a picture of the band on the roof of a house on the cover. I liked this one too, but it confused me a bit. It was fast, a little less sloppy, and had a lot more substance. It went right over my head.

    Fastforward about 4 years. I’m out of high school and now working at a record store. I’m still a punk rocker, but i branched out a bit and ended up somehow becoming a fan of the Goo Goo Dolls. I read an interview with their singer talking about how much he loved the Replacements. It was impossible to read a review of the Goos records without a replacements mention, so i scoured our store for the ‘Mats. The only album we had was “All Shook Down.” I popped it in and “Merry Go Round” immediately showed me what the Goos were talking about. I’m pretty sure Mr. Reznik nicked that riff note for note. The rest of the album was boring folk rock (again, over my head).

    I had completely forgotten about my high school ‘Mats experience until i saw All For Nothing come into my store. I put it on and fell in love immediately. “Left of the Dial,” “Bastards of Young,” “Alex Chilton,” all had me hooked. They were like the Goo Goo Dolls, but better, more punk, and not cheesy. It was then i went back and saw those albums i listened to as a freshman. This time i could appreciate them. At 14, it wasn’t time yet. I needed to mature in order to really appreciate it.

    Upon finding “Eventually” and “Come feel me Tremble” for 50 cents in a clearance bin at a Metal record store, i got hooked on Paul solo as well. Tommy was next, and now they are both two of my heroes musically. I wish i could go back and thank the jock that introduced me to the ‘Mats, but I’m sure he doesn’t need me to tell him how special they are.

    Now i’m a 24 year old punk rocker that gets giddy just for the chance to see Tommy live w/ Guns n Roses. It may not be the ‘Mats at First Ave., but it’s all i’ve got.

  • Jodi says:

    Nazareth, I never got to see the ‘Mats either, some of us were just either born too late (you) or too stupid (me).

  • Ketut says:

    Okay, I’ve waited for a while thinking about my introduction to the ‘Mats and I can not remember the first time I heard about them. I think it was from my friends when I moved to Minneapolis in 1984. I was a Suburbs fan having seen them in concert a number (20 ) times either downtown or at numerous college campuses. They seemed to come to Northfield a lot.

    Anyway, I moved into the Uptown area like everyone in their 20’s is required to do and started hanging with a couple guys I worked with. They found out I liked the ‘Burbs and suggested listening to “Sorry Ma”… “Stink” and “Hootenany”. I did and thought “Ma” and “Stink” were a little rawer then the polish of the Suburbs “In Combo” and “Credit in Heaven”, but I could see where my friend were coming from.

    The first time I saw them in concert I was hooked. It was at the Uptown and we got there right after lunch. The only people in the place were the older blue collar regulars who would leave way before the music even started. We got a table as close to where there would be a stage, if there were a stage and hunkered down. 8 hours of drinking later they came out and were as drunk as we were.

    Tommy was like a pogo stick. Bob was blistering on guitar with this perma-grin which only stopped once when Paul suggested he sing a song. Westerberg sang/wailed for hours his voice getting more gravel-like as the night went on. Mars just beat on cans.

    It was, what I learned through many shows later, what was a typical Mat’s concert. Flashes of brilliance for 3-4 songs followed by a half-assed sloppy cover. They didn’t want to stop at the end of the night and the bar literally turned them off midsong to kick people out.

    As we stumbled out into the night I was a full fledged Mats fan. We followed them everywhere because they weren’t selling out venues till later. We would travel to campuses, dive bars and outdoor shows all over the 5 state area. Some shows were incredible, some not so. In fact after one show as we were driving home we happened across Paul and Tommy having a smoke in an alley and one of my friends yelled, “We want our money back!” Paul just laughed and Tommy flipped us the bird. Ah, the good old days!

    When they started getting popular we got worried. Playing SNL, 3 nights in a row at 1st Ave and signing on a major label were indicators that our little secret was getting out. The last time I saw them was opening for Tom Petty out in Seattle and they were not the Mats I had come to love. Something was amiss, it didn’t have the drunken good vibe that even a sloppy mats show usually had. For the first time it seemed as they were going throught the motions. No matter how drunk and disarrayed a show was they at least looked like they were always having fun. No more.

    That autumn they were to play Taste of Seattle, but it was just Paul and hired guns. The Mats were no more.

    I have tried to find my old stubs from some of the shows I have saved. I’ll keep looking and maybe scan them when I find them.

  • BobPaul says:

    Could you take a picture of the poster you described? Sounds quite cool!
    Thanks for sharing! It’s great to read all these introductions to PW/the Replacements.