Everyone I meet speaks so highly of Dan Reed, colleagues who have experienced the man up close and personal speak of this enigma, this aura around him that is simply infectious to be around. I had the pleasure of chatting with Dan ahead of a busy December, between his solo work, The Dan Reed Network and an upcoming tour supporting Extreme, he was good enough to talk to Rock ‘N’ Load and share some of his worldly experience. So take a seat boys and girls, listen up.
So Dan you have a busy December ahead of you with a string of European dates followed by the UK Tour alongside Extreme, you must be looking forward to it?
I could not be more excited about where things are for both DRN and my solo work at this time, thank you asking! And being able to share the stage with Extreme is going to be a blast. I think both bands have a lot of respect for each other’s music and live shows so it’s going to be a true celebration of life for us on stage and the audience.
Have you ever played / worked with the boys from Extreme before? Two huge Funk-Meisters together should make for one hell of a line-up!
I met the guys in the early 90’s and had the pleasure to work with Nuno in the studio at that time doing a remake of a couple DRN songs ‘Long Way to Go’ and ‘Get to You’. My fondest memories of that time was witnessing Nuno just jamming on the guitar and being quite simply amazed at what a talent he was then and still is. He is one the best guitarists in the business… I rank him right up there with Prince, who in my opinion is one the greats as well on the guitar. True legends on the six string!
You’ve always had a very special relationship with the UK – What do you attribute that too?
I believe it’s rooted in the open mindedness with regards to music of the U.K. audience in general. DRN was embraced by the UK from our very first shows in Rock City in Nottingham and the Marquee in London and people seemed to never forget our music even after being away from the scene some 15 years! I remember being blown away by the concept of a state-wide radio station that played everything from Prince to Van Halen on the same station and everyone in the country was enjoying many different styles of music and were not addicted to categorizing bands, pigeon holing their music. I believe this is one of the reasons why DRN was and still is appreciated in the UK. Also people there seem to be extremely loyal to the bands they like… If your music moved them then they are usually by your side for life, and we feel incredibly blessed to still be able to rock the UK with DRN!
I caught you paying live back in the day supporting Bon Jovi in the Kings Hall in Belfast in the 90’s, I distinctly remember the buzz around you at the time and fast forward 20+ years or so there has been no let up? What’s your take on longevity in this industry and trying to remain current over an ever-changing lansdscape?
Good question! My theory on that is always perform and write from the heart and soul… Don’t worry about catching trends or sticking to formulas that work either. If your intention is true… If you are grateful to your listeners and all those you work with, and show that gratitude, along with trying to remain humble, then you will always have a good shot at remaining relevant to some degree. And the other things is to always remain open to learning new things about composing and about oneself… Go on adventures, travel, hear the stories of strangers, get out of your comfort zone… And as an artist creativity will always flow.
Carrying on from the last question – With the music industry always changing and evolving, what are the things you like and don’t like about it? What aspects of the industry do you feel have hurt or helped your career? If you could change anything about it, what would it be?
To be honest I don’t put much thought in to such things since the world is shape shifting so much, always, that it’s hard to keep up! I try to focus on the melody, the lyric, the instrumentation and having an honest intention behind the songs when performing them live. If I focus on those elements then either the music ‘business’ will allow our music to rise or fall based on its merits. With that said I believe the Internet and crowd funding combined has been a godsend for artists to be able to control the direction they choose rather than being in the hands of big business. It does force artists to be more active and spend tons of time on social media platforms but I’ve always enjoyed being ‘social’ 🙂
As previously mentioned you supported the likes of Bon Jovi, and the Rolling Stones, huge bands with Bon Jovi at the height of their career in the 90’s and the Stones always a global hit. That must have been a surreal experience ( for a mere mortal like myself ) to understand how to balance the highs and lows of a career in music – with the likes of high profile musicians like Chris Cornell & Chester Bennington so sadly taking their lives and struggling with mental health issues so prevalent today – how have you yourself managed to find that balance in what must be an incredibly taxing industry?
I had a bout of depression in the early 90’s and then again around 2001/2002… Both times where I considered leaving it all behind. Thankfully I had either amazing friends who cares enough to help steer me away from the abyss or I discovered either a philosophy or an author’s writings that brought things back in to perspective that we are incredibly blessed to have the short time we are given on this planet and that its ok to be in despair as long as we realize that suffering, either physically or mentally, is part of the process to discovering the great joys in life. If a person can learn to embrace their dark side without it consuming them then we can make it out of the darkness. What’s interesting is that often our best work as artists comes from when our heart, mind and soul are tortured and that’s the irony of it all. With that said… The human existence, with all its challenges, is still a blessing. Often times we ponder they idea of being a dolphin or an eagle soaring high… Living in nature without bills or war, or a care in the world, but a dolphin cannot choose to live in the mountains, an eagle cannot swim the depths of the sea… A human being can do both whenever they so choose to.
If Dan Reed was 21 again only starting out in today’s music industry, do you think you would approach it any differently?
I’m pretty sure we would be doing and online comedy show on YouTube 🙂 We were super clowns back in the day and may very well be known for that and have to leave music on the back burner!
Do you have any advice for any upcoming artists? What’s the best piece of advice someone gave you when you realized you wanted to be a musician?
Pretty much everything I’ve stated above. Come from the heart with your music… Follow your passion and not what you think everyone wants to hear, and most importantly… Respect everyone who has helped you on the way up because those same people will be there on your way down. And finally… Write, write, write… Even if it’s crap, because sometimes writing nonsense is exactly what you need to do to pave the way for the gems that will follow right after.
You guys recently hit the studio once again with Fight Another Day, how did you guys approach the writing process for that album? How does the dynamics of the band work on new material?
We are writing more and more as a band this time around. Oddly enough we do more writing together through Skype and emailing tracks and ideas back and forth from the many different corners of the world we all live in than we did when we all lived in the same city in our youth!
What’s next for The Dan Reed Network? Any plans in motion for new recordings?
Absolutely! We are now doing a series of ‘studio sessions’ in different cities around the world where we are inviting everyone who can attend be a part of the recording process of new songs, not only to witness our process but to also participate in doing background vocals. So far we have 4 sessions planned and more to come over the next 12 months!
Any last words?
Yes… Resist the urge to fear anything that’s not comfortable to address, discuss, or make peace with. Division on issues is threatening to tear apart the fabric of the soul of humanity. Focus on our commonalities, and not that which we differ on and the future will always be filled with creativity and wonder 🙂
Thank you for your time.
Dan Reed Network are special guests on Extreme’s December 2017 UK Tour
Newcastle O2 Academy – Wednesday 13 December
Glasgow O2 Academy – Thursday 14 December