Interview: Dan Reed – Dan Reed Network

Hi Dan, many thanks for taking time out to answer some questions, it’s much appreciated! ‘Origins’ is the forthcoming album from Dan Reed Network. When the band reconvened for ‘Fight Another Day’ in 2016, did you envisage a follow up, or was it a case of let’s see how this one goes? “First, let me say thank you for the interview and for sharing the news about the new album! Actually, the whole progress of DRN’s return to the music scene has been incremental… no master plan, and have been going with the flow creatively and with how the tours have been progressing! I think we in the band, and especially with Rob Daiker joining the group, have a lot more to say musically, and we have a blast in the studio and on the road. At this point, we actually are discussing doing another album in 2020, so this may be the first time we actually are making solid plans for more than a year ahead.” That’s great news! ‘Origins’ is a mixture of brand new tracks and classics re-imagined, but the interesting aspect is that they were recorded live in various studios around the world with an audience present. Where did that idea originate from? Was it as fun as it looked? “The idea was brought up by our manager Dario Nikzad originally. I then brought up the ‘Snarky Puppy’ videos I had seen online of them doing live performances in the studio using silent disco headphones and the idea blossomed from there. To be honest, I was concerned that a live audience witnessing us recording a song from scratch would be intensely boring so we decided to add in doing a second song each session… a classic Dan Reed Network track that would be more fun for the attendees to be a part of, singing background vocals. As it turned out, all the sessions in each city were a joy for both the audience and for us as a band. My concerns about it being tedious for the audience were not needed, as we all had a fantastic time focusing on the tracks, laughing at each other, and generally having the time of our lives creatively! I think you can even hear that energy on the record.” Well, it must have been fun if you are doing it again in Berlin in December! In Hansa Studio I believe? That’s quite an illustrious studio, is it not? Didn’t Bowie record ‘Heroes’ there? “He certainly did! It’s a legendary studio where many artists like Bowie and Depeche Mode were recording albums before the Berlin Wall was taken down. Being that Hansa Studio was literally just meters away from the wall at the time, it was a unique place for innovative artists to record rock records that, in essence, are about rebellion and freedom. We are honoured to be able to record there on December 29th this year! We plan on remaking Dan Reed Network’s ‘Salt Of Joy’ as the classic track and the new song will be a single we’ll release in 2019 at some point. We are also thrilled to have special guest, Tyketto vocalist Danny Vaughn joining us on that day to record vocals with me on ‘Salt Of Joy’. Our plan is to release that track to raise money for Amnesty International in 2019 as well!” Sounds awesome! Bands re-imagining older tracks is becoming quite common these days. Subsequently, one might struggle to notice the difference, but with the likes of ’Ritual’ and ‘Rainbow Child’, you can actually tell the difference. Was that an organic evolvement that happened in the studio? “The band members and I had quite a few conversations about how we could approach the older tracks a bit differently so as to not repeat the past too closely. The funny thing about that process was that Rob Daiker was a teenager when Dan Reed Network’s first album came out, and was a fan of the band. So, as the engineer, mixer, and co-producer of these new versions, he often found himself feeling like he was breaking some kind of unwritten law changing the older tracks to fit in to 2018! Of course, I told him to feel free to tear down the past and let’s take these songs into the future. Once he accepted that, he went full steam ahead.” ‘Fade To Light’ is the lead single from ‘Origins’. It deals with finding inner strength and turning a negative into a positive. It’s quite apt for current times. “Thank you. I appreciate you feeling that these themes are important, as we do. I’ve never in my lifetime seen so much division over right wing verses left wing, nationalism verses globalism… hell, there’s millions of people believing the Earth is flat again, simply because the world governments lie to us from time to time… which to me is insane. In a climate such as this, I feel it’s imperative to espouse as much positivity as possible without being preachy or too idealistic, as I have been guilty of in the past. If Dan Reed Network can contribute to anything in the music world, I would hope it is the celebration of life, rather than complaining about the darkness.” Similarly, ‘Right In Front Of Me’ is a timely reminder of how fleeting life is and how, perhaps, that elusive “thing” that we are all chasing is actually right there in front of us. A song that most people should be able to identify with. “No matter where I have travelled in the world, whether is the lush jungles of Guatemala, the majestic Himalayan mountains, the solitude of the deserts in Judea, the local people all pine for being somewhere else that is ‘more’ beautiful than their homeland. I have always found that so interesting that we so often take for granted the beauty and truth that is staring us in the face. This applies to relationships equally. An old Tibetan monk once told me that it’s best to live life with no hopes and no regrets and to fill every day with gratitude and humility… and although I have failed miserably at living that path a majority of the time, it’s always at my core and what drives me personally when it comes to writing music.” You’ve already alluded that Rob Daiker plays a major role within Dan Reed Network. Just how crucial is he to the band? At this rebirth of DRN, Rob’s contribution and energy is priceless! Being that he himself is an amazing songwriter, performer and singer in his own right, as well as an extremely talented engineer, producer and video producer, his input and vision has become a major part of what we are creating, and where we are heading as a band. One of the greatest things about Dan Reed Network now is every band member is a solo artist who writes and produces very inspiring music or awe inspiring videos and films. Rob’s work was the final cog in that creative machine we now foresee continuing onward for many years to come!” The feedback from the live shows since Dan Reed Network got back together must be pleasing? “We are actually quite taken aback by how much love and appreciation we have been receiving in response to our live performances. I think because we are all close friends, enjoy being on the road so much, while also digging the music we are performing, both old and new, it comes across on stage. We are definitely not ‘going through the motions’ as some group who reform do. If anything, we feel like we did when we first started playing shows together back in the 80’s!” I caught the show in Glasgow where you were piped onto the stage and performed in kilts! I have to admit, I was apprehensive before that gig, as I have such fond memories from when Dan Reed Network first visited the UK, but the gig ended up blowing me away, and still remains one of my top five gigs of all time. Were you wary of any expectations when you got the band back together? “Ahh… the bagpipes and kilts entrance! I remember it well. That moment was indicative of what I stated just now. The idea to do that came about 3 hours before doors were to open. We used to do these kinds of last minute idea jams before shows back in the club days before we got signed. The challenge being, ‘how can we pull this off before the show? Thank you for your kind words about the show and we’re honoured it’s in your top 5! Actually, I think we were all apprehensive about getting back together after so many years had passed. Sometimes it’s best to let the glory days of the past remain in the past, so as to not tarnish the good memories everyone has. I can name a few bands that are still touring that I wish would have quit when they were at their prime. I can also name a few bands that I am grateful they came back and are performing with passion and commitment. With that said, I believe Dan Reed Network’s best years and albums may still be yet to come. There’s that idealistic optimism chiming in again!” Dan Reed Network will be ringing in the bells of 2019 with a gig in your home city, Prague. Let’s be honest here, how cool a city is Prague? “Prague, in my opinion, is the perfect mixture of past and present. If I wasn’t a musician, I would most have definitely been an architect. It is a true passion of mine, and those who built this city had a keen eye for art and beauty. One can feel completely transported to another time when walking the streets of old town, and being that Prague is one of the few cities that were spared any bombing during WWII, it remains intact and is a testament to history’s love of architecture! Add to that the music scene… rock, jazz, symphonic, and electronic, you can’t go wrong with this town. Also, a pint of beer is roughly one Euro if you go to the right pubs, so many of friends revel in that attribute! I’m vodka guy, so unfortunately cheap beer holds no sway on me!” Good luck hunting down a cheap vodka house! With Dan Reed Network, solo acoustic gigs, Dan Reed Trio, gigs with Danny Vaughn… what do you put this drive down to? When do you rest? “That’s a good question… I guess it comes down to having a strong intention to leave behind music that helps people deal with the stress of the day, to hopefully leave the world in a little better place for my son than how I found it when I was his age… that eternal search for the melody and lyric that sounds vastly familiar, but has never been written before… the search for truth, and a better way to convey it. It may not be all that different from designing buildings, now that I think about it. I want to leave behind a building that outlives me physically… a place where people can find some small shelter from the chaos of their ‘here and now’. As for resting… that usually happens for a couple hours in the afternoon, and again around 4 in the morning.” I didn’t even mention your YouTube channel ‘This Is A Drill’. What, did you have a spare few minutes between projects and naps,  and rather than have a Netflix binge, decide to start a channel? “It’s interesting that you bring that up. ‘This Is A Drill’ was literally born when I lost my voice a couple months back. It was the first time in my life that I woke up and couldn’t sing at all. I went to three doctors, tried different medications… nothing worked, and I had to seriously consider what would I do if I could never sing again? Being that I am huge fan of all things Monty Python, and have nothing but respect for all people who use humour to make social commentary, I thought it would be fun to try filming some ideas and see what people thought. I enjoy acting out different characters and filming/editing footage… so making these comedy skits seemed like a viable way to still create without having to worry about whether I could sing or not. I am currently editing Episode 4 for the channel about a rapper in his 50’s still living at home with his mother and is disturbingly proud of it!”  Mr Kanye West is the subject of your first post ‘Rise up and FIGHT!’. If Mr. Trump can get voted into office, then anything is possible, right? “Absolutely! We, as a world, have reached this moment of absurdity… where the lines between reality and fantasy, even disturbing fantasy, are blurred. If a con man snake oil salesman such as Trump can become leader of the free world simply by lying and bullying his way to the top, then yes, anything is truly possibly. Personally, I think his presence will soon usher in a wave of truly innovative and effective forward thinking politicians and activists. So not all is lost!” Lastly, on the forthcoming UK tour, Dan Reed Network will have two young British bands out on the road with them, Mason Hill and Hollowstar. That’s a bloody good line-up, isn’t it? “It certainly is!.. and no one is looking forward to watching both bands before us each night than me! When Dan Reed Network was managed by Bill Graham for our first album on Polygram, we got to hear a lot of great rock ‘n’ roll stories from him; the man who first brought Led Zeppelin to the US, who managed the Grateful Dead, and who put Jimi Hendrix on as support for The Monkees! He always said that what people want more than anything when going out is a ‘great night of entertainment!’. I’ve never forgotten that… so when it comes to whether we are supporting another band, or hiring support acts for our tours, it’s always about giving everyone a memorable night of stellar music and great energy on stage. To me, there are no headliners and support bands. It’s an all-night rock show! Mason Hill and Hollowstar are two of the UK’s most promising up and coming rock bands who are not only keeping the scene alive, but breathing new life into it. We are excited and honoured to have them on board. Well, I am certainly looking forward to it too. Thanks again for your time, Dan. I hope you get time to get your feet up for a bit soon! “You are most welcome and thank YOU!  Feet going up at 4am! Haha! Rock on!” Dan Reed Network’s new album “Origins” is released by Zero One Entertainment on Friday 23rd November. Their UK tour starts Wednesday 7th November with special guests Mason Hill and Hollowstar. Album and UK tour info: www.danreed-network.com Interview: Dave Live images: Rob Wilkins ]]>

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