The DNR [Dan Reed Network] was founded by Dan Reed in Portland, Oregon in 1984. They established themselves in the late 1980s-early 1990s.
Their album The Heat reached #15 in the UK charts in July 1991. The band went on tour with the Rolling Stones, were signed to be on the Polydor label with band-mates such as Bon Jovi and Cinderella and they worked with Nile Rogers who produced their second album, Slam in 1989.
Their work can best be described as dance-floor rock ‘n’ tumble that’s been crafted with a funky heart and a soulful attitude.
We met up with DAN REED on a brief London stop-over (he currently resides in the Czech capital of Prague.) He had made the most of his time in the smoke by visiting HM Tower of London and HMS Belfast.
DAN was in a typically philosophical mood. We met him in a London hotel, near Euston. He seemed relaxed, and appeared to be in a good state of health.
“I got to thinking, how much money, energy and time was spent on these projects? [The Royal Navy battle cruiser HMS Belfast, is now a museum ship.] How much technology was discovered and perfected to create these amazing structures. And maybe the time, effort and innovation could have been spent more wisely, directed to caring for homeless, or feeding the starving. Projects like that.”
We wanted to know if he thought that maybe there was a resurgence of interest in 1980s music?
“Well, I do know about that, but as far as DRN are concerned, us coming back and us making a new album, this was born strictly out of the five of us having a great time on stage again. And realizing that we enjoy each other’s company. And all the things that brought us together, back then, were the same things we are enjoying now. Like our shared sense of humour, our sense of concern for the future , our political views… it’s all he same as it was back then. Perhaps it’s more refined now. And so we said, “Hey, lets try to make a new album. Let’s see if we have anything new to say. Lets see if a new generation will get into it, or not. And lets see if our older supporters are gonna be on board with us, still.”
“We didn’t have any ideas about making a record that sounds like it was made back then. But definitely, when we got into the studio, we started realizing, wow! this is gonna sound like us, a bit. Although we had a choice to make something that was thematically and lyrically important to us now, currently. As opposed to being about dating or breaking up. Or making up or trying to be loved. A lot of the songs back then were about being frustrated by not being accepted in the world. Those things are thankfully behind us and instead we are thinking about what kinda record we are going to leave this planet. Because a lot of people we grew up listening to are now passing away. So we are realising our mortality now. Hopefully this record will be part of our legacy. But, in answer to your general question: I don’t know if it’s because people wanna hear 1980s music or it’s because the other bands want a second life. I dunno.”
We asked Dan about his musical influences, Nile Rogers, yes? What about Bon Jovi?
“Well, musically, I don’t think Bon Jovi so much. But I remember when “Runaway” came out [1980 ] what that song did do was instil into me the fact that Wow! Maybe it’s great to mix keyboards with rock. Because Aerosmith didn’t really do that, even though I was a big fan of Aerosmith, they didn’t really have the big keyboard parts. But Bon Jovi did. And we were doing that stuff in the clubs [and it was well received] so it gave us confidence. But I don’t think we ever consciously tried to copy them. I know, though, that working with Bruce Fairbairn, straight after he had done “Permanent Vacation” with Aerosmith  and right after he had done “Slippery When Wet” [1986 Bon Jovi] when we did our first Dan Reed Network record I’m sure that he had some influence on our sound. And I think that Jon, growing up in the same area we did, and listening to KISS and AC/DC and CHEAP TRICK, things like that must have brushed off on him, like it did to us.”
What about musicians since then? What music has recently inspired Dan?
“For me it’s been more about electronic music. I really go into THE ORB (you might be able to hear the influence on the new album) and FSOL. Yeah, electronic music really kinda pushed my envelopes. I sued to go to a lot of raves, and this is after DRN and it’s post-rave age, right? But I just watched these kids do the crazy liquid dancing. And to me it was like ‘new rock ‘n’ roll’. And I like bands like SIGUR RÓS where they do this epic building, you know they start off on a single note then progress to bigger-and-bigger. The you have RADIOHEAD. Where it’s more of a meditation. They kinda go off on a tangent. Then I also love bands like MUSE. To me Muse is a new band.”
Did he feel he was a champion?
“To me the songs on this new album are about the human race as a collective. Are we willing to survive? Do we have the strength to rise above all the things that separate us? There’s this corporate mentality of profit over humanity. And there are some groups out there that are letting them do that, tear down rainforests, destroy our planet for profit, because they are waiting in hope for the end of the world. Because they believe they will be rescued by a saviour. It’s been prophesied, they expect the world to go-to-shit because its written in the book.”
“So there’s this greed element and there’s this religious element, two minorities, two extremes and there’s us caught in the middle of it and we just gotta hold our middle-ground as best we can. Fight both off, as best we can… but at least now there is this whole surge towards taking care of the environment. At least there is a backlash now. So I think we’re getting it right … So “Fight Another Day” is about asking everyone, are we willing to figure it out, are we willing to get together and solve these problems as a collective.”
Well, we felt stronger, as if we were better equipped to face the day, after listening to the album…
“Yeah? Good, that’s what we hoped this would do. And I hope it does that live on stage too. Because I think that DRN is really good on stage. It’s something we’ve always been good at. We like to see people move their body, and move their soul, and do those things collectively. And I’m hoping it connects to a younger generation, too. “ We like to see people move their body, and move their soul, and do those things collectively”
So when is Dan gonna take the band on the road and play the new album?
“Oh yeah, soon. We wanna get over to Japan. And Australia. And central and South America and hopefully do a bigger tour all throughout Europe. The first quarter of next year, that’s our goal.”
And plans for the next 12 months?
“Well we are gonna go to America and maybe Central America in October. Continue to write new songs for a potential next album. And the I got a meditation record that I wrote for a lovely woman named Leia Allen in Sweden , its’ an hour long of, I guess, thematic into-the-heart chakra and I’d like to get that out. And Danny Vaughn [Tyketto ] and I are talking about making a record together – we’re on tour now and we’ve been having such a great time touring that we’re talking about doing a new album, kind of a CSN&Y type of thing. So hopefully all these things will come together.”
Congrats on an excellent new record, we hope to see DRN at one of the live shows.
“Thank you, and may I also take a moment to thank all the people who have e been behind us since day one. They seem to have never left. They are all over the world. And especially from Europe. All those great people have been bugging us for years,asking us to get DRN back together and make a new record so we are honoured we can say “Yes, we are back together” and “Yes we have made a new record.”
Thanks Dan Reed.
Dan Reed was talking to @neilmach 2016 ©
Photo Credits: Anders Gustavsson III and (bottom photo) Amanda Rose