The most reclusive and media-shy of the former Stone Roses, Reni has given only a handful of interviews – usually by fax – since becoming the first original member to quit the band over 10 years ago. Uncut made several attempts to contact Reni for this feature, but all proved fruitless.
Public sightings of the former Roses drummer are extremely rare, although he was spotted with John and Mani at an Arthur Lee and Love gig, and then again with Mani at a gig by The Coral in Manchester in June 2005, where BBC’s Greater Manchester Radio asked them about the possibility of a Roses reunion:
Reni: “Never say never… but it won’t be this year.”
Mani: “I’d love to, just for the sheer joy of playing with this guy again.”
Reni: “I’m going to play with him, that’s guaranteed. I’m writing songs for me and him…”
Mani: “Whether it be the Roses or not, we never know, but we’ve got to work together at some point in time.”
Reni left the Roses in March 1996 amid acrimony and heroin rumours. These stories were denied by his manager, John Nuttall, who insisted the drummer just wanted to concentrate on marriage and fatherhood. “It’s a bit ironic, considering what the other three were up to,” Nuttall told NME in 2001. “He was the clean one.”
According to Ian Brown, Reni had not spoken to John Squire for two years by the time he left, and was unhappy with the band’s new management. He also advised the singer to find a replacement. “He had no confidence, he was a different fucking lad,” says Brown. “He had a lot of problems, his own personal problems.”
Musically, Reni has so far proved the least productive of the ex-Roses. One of his drum loops was sampled on Brown’s debut album Unfinished Monkey Business, but that dated back to the Second Coming sessions. Another of his loops surfaced on a track by Aziz Ibrahim, John Squire’s replacement in the latterday Roses. Mani tried to get Reni to join Primal Scream when he made the switch himself, but the drummer “couldn’t be arsed”.
Reni briefly re-emerged in 2001 fronting his own band, The Rub, as singer and guitarist. Sometime Happy Mondays percussionist Lee Mullen was in the initial line-up, while Neil Nisbet later joined on bass, Mick Grant on drums and Casey Longdon on rhythm guitar. The band played some low-key Manchester shows, but a mooted record deal never materialised.
“He was singing and playing guitar, but everyone I know who went to see it was just frustrated that they weren’t watching him play the drums,” says Brown. “But I still believe he could make a drum album like Buddy Rich. That would be fucking amazing.”
Brown reveals that Reni recently guested on a forthcoming album of percussionists, but Mani insists the drummer’s work rate remains slack. “He was still snoring last time I heard,” says the bass supremo. “He’s been working with Ged, who used to play percussion with Black Grape, so I’d be keen to hear that. I just wish Reni would get back on his drums. He always wanted to be out front, but he’s the best drummer in the world! The thing is, Reni wouldn’t want to do anything that didn’t either match or better what he’s done before.”
“Quality takes time to cultivate,” said Reni himself in a characteristically cryptic 2002 interview. “Patience is my main virtue.”
The June 2016 issue of Uncut is now on sale in the UK – featuring our cover story on Blondie, plus George Martin, Brian Eno, Dexys, The Monkees, Graham Nash, Merle Haggard, Ronnie Spector, Tony Joe White, Frank Zappa, Eric Clapton, The Coral, Max Richter and more plus 40 pages of reviews and our free 15-track CD
Uncut: the spiritual home of great rock music.