Alan Wren: Wikis

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Reni
Birth name Alan John Wren
Also known as Reni
Born 10 April 1964 (1964-04-10) (age 45)
Manchester, England
Genres Madchester, Alternative rock
Occupations Musician, Songwriter
Instruments Vocals, Drums, Bass, Guitar , Piano
Years active 1984–present
Labels Silvertone, Geffen
Associated acts The Stone Roses
The Rub

Alan John Wren (born on 10 April 1964, in Manchester, England),[1] better known as Reni, was the drummer of The Stone Roses from 1984 to 1995.

Reni is considered by many to be the best drummer of his generation, and the "single most important drummer in UK indie circles" and according to former Hacienda General Manager Howard Jones, he "played the drums like Hendrix played the guitar." His laid-back style of off-beat rhythms were influential in bringing about the blend of indie and dance music that formed much of the Manchester (or Madchester) sound of the day.[2]

During The Stone Roses he could be easily identified by the now iconic bucket hat.

Contents

Early career

Reni taught himself drums in his youth as, due to his family situation, he was nearly always around musical instruments in a pub environment. When Pete Townshend of The Who witnessed an early gig by a young Stone Roses, he commented that Reni was the most naturally gifted drummer he had seen since Keith Moon.[3] This unusual encounter concluded with The Who star asking the band whether he could use their drummer, which led to performances of Pictures of Lily, amongst others, with the 20 year old.[3]

Reni was equally adept at playing guitar, bass and piano. John Robb, in his 1997 book, The Stone Roses and the Resurrection of British Pop, notes that Reni could "play guitar almost as well as he plays drums,"[4] and Mani, speaking on a BBC Radio One documentary, mentioned that Reni could play better bass than him, quoting that he could "piss all over me on bass."[5]

The Stone Roses

Reni joined The Stone Roses in May 1984 after reading an advertisement the band had placed in Manchester's A1 Music store, now the Academy of Sound. He ripped it off the wall in order to make sure only he would get an audition which occurred in what was at the time Decibel Studios to the north of the city centre. This was a rehearsal studio and required the band to carry Reni's drum kit up three flights of stairs, before running through early songs 'Nowhere Fast', 'All Stitched Up' and 'Mission Impossible'. Andy Couzens, then the band's second guitarist, recalls these first few minutes with their new-found 20 year old drummer, noting, "We never discussed it, we knew he was in! He was fucking amazing! What a drummer...".

His initial playing style was characterised by the energy from evident influences such as Keith Moon; Andy Couzens once mentioned he was "like ten Keith Moons in one". Manchester music scene regulars such as Martin Hannett commented that it was clear most people were attending the band's early gigs to see Reni play. John Robb noted the general feeling in Manchester was, "go and see The Stone Roses, their drummer's amazing". However, as the band's music progressed his playing style became reknowned by his use of a 3-piece kit, and the additional compliment of his backing vocals on many songs. His use of a smaller kit did not limit the range of sounds he could produce - his distinctive use of the high-hat and cymbals created a unique chiming sound witnessed on many of the band's most famous songs. Reni's abilities were most obvious in the live performances that The Stone Roses gave where he was able to show his full range of abilities. Rhythm Magazine commented that he was, "funkier and more subtle than any drummer in the genre (indie) had ever been", and that he was, "economical, soulful and inventive". Indeed, Rhythm Magazine named him as a drummer hero stating, "you know him best by his ability to always play it cooler than cool".[2] Many fans also found that his harmonic backing vocals were an integral part to the band's music, particularly during live performances. Described in John Robb's biography of The Stone Roses as "the voice of an angel", listening to their debut album, and live shows such as The Blackpool Empress Ballroom (1989), and Glasgow Green (1990, and also Reni's final gig with the band), overtly display his abilities.[4]

Reni was the first member of the "classic" Stone Roses line-up to leave in March 1995, with much mystery surrounding his exit. Rumours of heroin addiction and fall outs with both Ian Brown and John Squire (depending on which of the two is commenting) are unproven. Arguably, it was the five year hiatus between albums that caused Reni to lose interest in The Stone Roses, and in drumming. His initial frustration manifested itself into him getting into trouble with the law, as in 1991 he was twice fined for obstructive parking in Manchester, and for disorderly behaviour, although Reni believed he had been treated unfairly by the police. As the years of inactivity progressed, he, as well as other members in the band, began to develop lives away from making music, with a family to be a part of. His departure was perhaps the first nail in the coffin of The Stone Roses. The band continued with Robbie Maddix as drummer, but then broke up in 1996.

1996 and beyond

Little was heard of Reni in the years after he left the Stone Roses. In 1997, it was reported in the NME that he'd been sent to prison for seven days (of which he served three) for contempt of court.[6] His drumming was credited on the Ian Brown track "Can't See Me", although Brown later admitted that the drum loop was a sample that Roses bassist Mani had uncovered, and not Reni at all.[7] In 1999 he formed the short-lived band The Rub with Casey Longdon (rhythm guitar), Neil Nisbet (bass), and Mick Grant (drums). Reni himself sang and played bass and lead guitar in the band. Also, Reni gave his first broadcast interview in 10 years to BBC GMR, along with ex-Roses bassist Mani, on the Manchester Music Show whilst attending a concert by The Coral. It was reported in early 2007 that the Fun Lovin Criminals had asked Reni to become their drummer. He never responded and nothing has come of it since. In June 2008, in an interview with Teletext's Planet Sound, Mani revealed Reni had formed a new band with an unnamed member of Black Grape, but gave no other details.

In May 2009 on the 20th anniversary of The Stone Roses' eponymous debut album release Reni (along with the three other members) sanctioned the release of rare demos and unreleased material for the extensive collector's edition. Typically elusive, Reni included an enigmatic poem (Don't Feed the Underdog) and drawings of the four members set to a Sudoku background (Go Figure Heads). Those who worked with him had high praise for the drummer, Ian Brown noted; "He'd fill the Apollo up now if he just set up his drum kit in there and played." Mani; "The guy is a total genius, a proper fucking one-off you know?" He also gave a rare suggestion towards Reni's general disappearance from drumming since 1995; "I think what it is with Reni is the fact he doesn't think of it [drumming for another band] as better than he has done before." John Leckie (their producer) also gave a rare insight into his drumming style; "Reni just had a collection of drums - you can't say Reni plays a lovely drum kit - every tom, cymbal and drums is from a different kit. That's how he makes it up. He's such a great player. When I listen to him play, I just sort of think, "Fuck! No-one else plays like that!".

[1]

"Reni Hats"

The bucket hat that Reni wore during his time with the Stone Roses gained the nickname "Reni Hat", a term that is still in use – particularly in the UK.[8][9]

References

  1. ^ Larkin, Colin (ed.) (1998) The Virgin Encyclopedia of Indie & New Wave, Virgin Books, ISBN 0 7535 0231 3
  2. ^ a b Rhythm, Issue 99, June 2004, page 13, Future Publishing
  3. ^ a b "25 things you didn't know about The Stone Roses". NME.com. July 9, 2009. http://www.nme.com/photos/25-things-you-didn-t-know-about-the-stone-roses/124337/5/1. Retrieved 13 December 2009.  
  4. ^ a b Robb, John. The Stone Roses and the Resurrection of British Pop. ISBN 0-09-187887-X.  
  5. ^ The Story of the Drummer, narrated by Mark Radcliffe, BBC Radio One documentary.
  6. ^ http://www.john-squire.com/ianbrown/media/nme97-09-13.html
  7. ^ Can't See Me
  8. ^ Scott Murray (2002-10-22). "Spartak Moscow 1 - 3 Liverpool". The Guardian. http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/2002/oct/22/minutebyminute.sport. Retrieved 2008-04-29.  
  9. ^ Barry Glendenning (2007-07-17). "Stage 9 - as it happened". The Guardian. http://www.guardian.co.uk/sport/2007/jul/17/cycling.tourdefrance4. Retrieved 2008-04-29.  

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