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You Can Drum But You Can’t Hide – Carl Stanley’s interview with ex Fall/Ian Brown drummer Simon Wolstencroft

Words by Carl Stanley
Madchester hooked up with Si Wolstencroft as he released ‘You Can Drum But You Can’t Hide’ and asked him about putting the book together as well as his own thoughts looking back on a rather notable career…
Congrats on your rather excellent new bio Si,Si Wolstencroft Book cover and a pretty unique career it is too in which you open up quite a bit on both the highs and lows of your life and career. What kinda reactions has the book had up to now?
Si Wolstencroft – Thanks Carl. The reaction to my memoirs have all been very kind so far. One of the comments about the book that stands out for me is, “refreshingly honest “. It was co-writer Stuart Bisson Foster who dragged the truth out of me when it came to the low points in my life, especially after letting the Smiths gig slip through my fingers and my subsequent turn into years of sustained drug abuse. You have to tell the whole truth or not bother at all.He also help me re-live the high points as well, such as when first joining The Fall for an eleven year stint of highs and lows, but mostly highs and how I came to start drumming with my old classmate Ian Brown again in 1999, which was amazing. I feel good about writing it all down.
Ian Brown was your partner as rhythm section in The Patrol, what was he like on the bass, he can also play drums too can’t he, was it you who showed how to drum during your time in The Patrol?
SW – The Patrol used to rehearse at my parents house at first and my dad started asking too many questions about where my red glitter Olympic drum kit had come from. Ian moved it to his parents garage in Timperley for a while, where he would thrash about on it for hours, until the cops turned up one day, following complaints from the neighbours. Si Wolstencroft and Ian BrownIan’s bass playing was very simple, mostly just root notes and Dub reggae riffs. He was better at the backing singing and you could tell he really enjoyed doing it in front of a crowd.

You also played along with Andy Rourke too, who you rated highly early on, but who was the greatest bass player you ever played with?
SW – There’s no question, Andy Rourke’s bass playing was vital to the overall sound of The Smiths and he remains one of the best I’ve ever worked with. Sylvan Richardson, from Ian’s solo band, was also top notch and young Johnny Smale from the band Nude, is up there as well. I call on him, whenever I need bass on a project.

The chapters covering your time in The Fall are some of the best in the book, tell me something about your time in the group which isn’t in the book?

SW – 
One afternoon at Mark E Smiths house, our leader whipped out his ever present Dictaphone, which he often used to eavesdrop on the bands conversation, when he had left the room just to hear what we would say about him. This time however, he asked me to do a voice over for a radio jingle he had written, to promote a Fall record in the U.S.A. He reckoned I was really good at it and his comment really stuck with me for all these years. I’ve done a few radio interviews recently and read out some excerpts from my book which you can hear as a pod-cast on the Strata Books website. I really like doing it. My mate Tin Tin reckons I should start a new career in hospital radio, the cheeky bleeder.

Your quite open and honest in the book regarding your past drug issues, what was that scene like when you started out playing in groups?

SW – 
When the Patrol started out in 78/79 we started drinking together in the Vine pub in Sale. We all lived in the suburbs, so there was no visible signs of street drug pushing going on at all. By 1980 however, we were doing poppers in nightclubs like Legends and Pip’s (behind the Cathedral) and had started to smoke cannabis oil and lumps of a resin known as ‘Spud.’, which we scored in Hulme. It was in 81/82 that I started dabbling with the harder stuff.

It’s kinda cool you ended up connecting with your old school mate Ian Brown for his solo career on releases like Golden Greats, highlights for you during that time?

SW – When Ian asked me to join his solo band, I was driving him to Heathrow in my mini cab at the end of 1998, I was over the moon. Well, who wouldn’t be? Earlier that year he gave me some work as a drum tech for Simon Moore, who had played on Unfinished Monkey Business, but wasn’t very comfortable being down graded to a ‘roadie,’ after eleven years in the Fall. Not that there’s anything wrong with being a ‘roadie’.

Another memorable moment was playing at the massive Fuji Festival in Japan. Oh, and performing on Top Of The Pops, twice.

The front cover of ‘You Can Drum But You Can’t Hide’ sees you sporting a ‘Your Own’ jacket, what’s your thoughts on The Donnelly’s new label and look Si?Si Wolstencroft drumsticks

SW – I love the new range of Y.O Clothing. It’s very street but understated and I don’t feel like an old geyser when I’m wearing it out and about. I’ve known Anthony, Chris and Tracey for years now, in fact they’re all mentioned in the book and I’m glad the label is doing so well for them.

Purchase a copy of You Can Drum But You Can’t Hide from Amazon

Follow Simon Wolstencroft on Twitter @simonWolstencr1

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