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The Jesus and Mary Chain Week – Day 4: Bobby Gillespie, Military Drummer

TO CELEBRATE THE RECENT RELEASE OF OUR 33 1/3 ON  THE JESUS AND MARY CHAIN’S PSYCHOCANDY, WE’RE PLEASED TO BRING YOU THE FOURTH AND FINAL INSTALLMENT OF JESUS AND MARY CHAIN WEEK BY AUTHOR PAULA MEJIA!

Before he became the force fronting Primal Scream, Bobby Gillespie started out playing two trash can lids as DIY drums in his hometown of Mount Florida, Scotland, along with his friend, Jim Beattie. “The foundations of Primal Scream were that we were a noise band,” Gillespie remembers. “I used to play dustbin lids as drums. Two dustbin lids, and smash them like drums. My Mary Chain drums were the same, except these were trash cans.”

When he joined the Mary Chain around the Psychocandy era, Bobby played the drums standing up; an unusual stance for a drummer. Was that out of necessity, or was there something else there? Both, it turns out. When we chatted over coffee in London last year for the book, Gillespie told me about his drumming techniques in the Mary Chain, and how it was bred out of a desire to participate more actively in the band.

“I wasn’t trying to be Moe Tucker [of the Velvet Underground], I could only play two drums. So it looked better standing up, it felt better standing up,” he says. “Sitting down in the seat felt like being a spectator. I wanted to get involved.” It wasn’t just a one-off for a wild show, either. “In fact, every gig I did standing up,” Gillespie says. “It looked a bit ridiculous sitting with two drums. It felt more like a marcher, like you were going to war. You know what I mean? Like a military drummer. They don’t sit down.” It’s also fitting, given how it’s impossible to sit down when watching the Mary Chain perform live, too.

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