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Us: Robert Grey.

Robert Grey

Robert Grey

Robert Grey (Gotobed) is Wire's drummer, known for his minimal, metronomic style. Besides drumming with Wire, Robert has also played with the Art Attacks, toured with the much-missed Frank Tovey (in the 1980–81 Fad Gadget line up), played on Colin Newman's A-Z, Not To and It Seems albums, toured with Soft Option and performed Ryoanji (John Cage) with Susan Stenger and Gavin Bryars. Besides drumming, Robert has also run a small farm in the midlands since 1991.

In 1971, Robert was in London to study at Thames Polytechnic, in Woolwich. "After two terms, I left because I just wasn't interested in what I was being taught. I had no alternative plan except that I knew I didn't want to do that," recalls Robert. Other things he was interested in included photography, music, acting and Land Rovers, and he knew he wanted to change the direction his life was going in. "The London 'alternative lifestyle' seemed very attractive," he explains. "This included squatting in empty houses and using them as your own—there were thousands of these available before they were renovated or demolished; this was much more interesting than renting from a landlord—and free!"

While living in a squat in Stockwell in 1973, Robert was persuaded to sing in a group started by Nick Garvey to perform covers of Chuck Berry, Eddie Cochran, Randy Newman, Rolling Stones, Johnny Burn, Flamin' Groovies, Elvis, and The Kinks—a tribute to the band's own favourite bands. "We played on the pub circuit as The Snakes, and I think it lasted for about a year," remembers Robert. "After this, I briefly joined a theatre group, preparing an Ionesco play to perform at Edinburgh Festival, but it never actually got there. At the same time I started to learn drums by playing Snakes drummer Richard Wernham's kit."

In 1976, Robert met Colin Newman at a party, and he remembers that Colin's voice was hoarse, because he'd been rehearsing with a group and singing through the same amp as the guitars. "He told me his group were looking for a drummer; I tried to tell him that my experience of drumming was nil, but he still wanted me to go to Watford and try playing with them. Punk had arrived so being able to play your instrument could be a disadvantage," says Robert. "Lucky for me."