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Defining Alternative Rock bands, before it was cool. The definitive lineup included Paul Westerberg (rhythm guitar, vocals), Tommy Stinson (bass), Bobby Stinson (lead guitar) and Chris Mars (drums). Bobby Stinson was replaced by Slim Dunlop in 1987 and Chris Mars by Steve Foley in 1990. Since the breakup of the band in 1991 Westerberg has released numerous solo records, and Tommy Stinson has played in a number of bands, most notably with Axl Rose and Friends.

Starting out as a loud fast Hardcore Punk band, they transitioned into a melodic alternative rock band, driven by the heart on the sleeve, earnest songwriting of Paul Westerberg. In terms of general popularity the Mats barely register compared to the likes of their contemporaries REM or their arguable successors Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Soundgarden. But don't feel too sorry for them though, much of their unpopularity can be attributed to their drunken stage antics and penchant for biting the hand that feeds.


  • 1981: Sorry Ma, Forgot to Take Out the Trash
  • 1982: Stink: "Kids Don't Follow" Plus Seven
  • 1983: Hootenanny
  • 1984: Let It Be
  • 1985: Tim
  • 1987: Pleased to Meet Me
  • 1989: Don't Tell a Soul
  • 1990: All Shook Down

Tropes involving this band:

  • The Alcoholic: All the original members, particularly Bobby Stinson.
  • Cover Version: Black Diamond, previously by Kiss.
  • Dreadful Musician: All of their albums have ropey parts, but Hootenanny really takes the cake.
  • Driven to Suicide: The main character of The Ledge. It's never explicitly stated why he wants to kill himself, but the song implies he feels ignored by the world.
  • Drowning My Sorrows: Here Comes A Regular
  • Emo Teen: Sixteen Blue, likely semi-autobiographical.
  • Everyone Has Standards: Bobby Stinson was let go from the band partly as a result of his excessive drinking. YMMV on how impressive/shocking that is.
  • Gayngst: Possibly the protagonist of Sixteen Blue. He wonders if he is gay, because he shows no interest in girls and doesn't understand sexuality, and he lies to his dad about going on a date.
  • Harsh Vocals: Most of the rocky tracks.
  • I Am the Band: Increasingly Westerberg, much to Tommy Stinson's well publicised chagrin, to the extent that All Shook Down was nearly released as a solo record
  • Indecipherable Lyrics: Applicable to a lot of the rockier tracks.
  • "I Want" Song: Here Comes A Regular and Unsatisfied.
  • Ludd Was Right: Westerberg has a thing against the Answering Machine.
  • Masculine Girl, Feminine Boy: Dick and Jane from Androgynous.
  • Meaningful Echo: Here Comes A Regular has "ain't much to rake anyway in the fall".
  • Rockumentary: Color Me Obsessed
  • Take That: Seen Your Video, a swipe at hair metal bands of the era.
  • This Loser Is You: The whole band, and a significant part of their appeal.
  • Title-Only Chorus: Gary's God A Boner, subverted after the first chorus with "Gary's Got A Soft On".
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