5 Drummerszone artists - Alan "Reni" Wren

Alan "Reni" Wren
* April 10, 1964
United Kingdom
Alan John Wren (Manchester, 1964) better known as Reni, drummer of The Stone Roses. In the late '90s he briefly played in a new band, The Rub, and was also rumoured to have been asked to drum for the Fun Lovin' Criminals in 2007.

About Reni
Reni's laid-back style of off-beat rhythms was influential in bringing about the blend of indie and dance music that formed much of the Manchester (or Madchester) sound of the day.

According to former Hacienda General Manager Howard Jones, Reni "played the drums like Jimi Hendrix played the guitar."

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

Reni taught himself drums in his youth as, due to his family situation, he was nearly always around musical instruments in a pub environment. A naturally gifted musician, he 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," and Mani, speaking on a BBC Radio One documentary, mentioned that Reni could play better bass than he could, quoting that he could "piss all over me on bass." However, it was his drumming abilities which made him stand out. Whilst growing up in the Manchester suburb of Gorton, "the local kids thought Reni was a freak because he was such an amazing drummer, a total natural. Reni didn't care. He was already jamming along to anything and anybody."

Already in two bands before he joined The Stone Roses, it was perhaps friend Simon Wright's successful audition for AC/DC in 1984 which prompted him towards more serious ambitions.

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 blew me bloody balls off! What a drummer."

The band's first live show with Reni occurred at an Anti-heroin gig in London, which was being hosted by Pete Townshend. Having seen the band's performance he commented that Reni was the most naturally gifted drummer he had seen since Keith Moon.[6] 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.[6]

Reni's 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 renowned by his use of a 3-piece kit, and the additional complement 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".

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.

Reni was the first member of the "classic" Stone Roses line-up to leave in March 1995, with much mystery surrounding his exit. The band continued with Robbie Maddix as drummer, but then broke up in 1996.

In a press conference on 18 October 2011, Reni, along with the other members of the Stone Roses, announced the band would be reforming for two 'homecoming' gigs at Heaton Park, Manchester on June 29 and 30 2012, followed by a World Tour later that year.

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. Reni's 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.

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.

In 2005, 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, Reni and the three other band members sanctioned the release of rare demos and unreleased material. In an exclusive book included with the collector's edition, Reni remained typically elusive. Whilst Ian Brown and Mani included lengthy written accounts of their experiences in The Stone Roses, Reni supplied only an enigmatic poem (Don't Feed the Underdog) and drawings of the four members set to a Sudoku background (Go Figure Heads). However, it is worth noting guitarist John Squire did not contribute at all.

Those who worked with him had high praise for the drummer. Ian Brown: "Hed have been like Gene Krupa or Buddy Rich. He'd fill the Apollo up now if he just set up his drum kit in there and played." Mani: "He was an amazing drummer. He was that good, he could do anything. Hes done gigs with one arm and he played with one arm it was as good as two! 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 an insight into the Mancunian's unusual drum kit: "Reni just had a collection of drums you can't say Reni plays a lovely drum kit every tom, cymbal and drum 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!" John Robb: "The best drummer of his generation. Ive never seen anyone who could play drums like that the talk in the early days was often about Reni check out the amazing drummer hipsters would say and he always delivered. If the Roses ever reformed it would be a buzz just to see him play those drums again dextrous, fluid and exuberant he could hit hard like a rock drummer but also had a real swing and that infectious energy."

Factoid: 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.

Alan "Reni" Wren's references (1)