The DAN REED NETWORK release their brand new studio album titled Origins on Friday November 23rd 2018 via Reed’s own ‘Zero One Entertainment’ Label.
While recording the album DRN opened the studio doors to the public and invited them to be a part of an exclusive series of recording sessions that spanned the globe with tracks that would eventually become Origins.
We met DAN REED in London to discuss making the album.
This album is about “Origins” so maybe we ought to start by asking what HASN’T changed since Breathless 1986?
“Sense of humor, friendship and how our passion for writing melody, lyrics and groove hasn’t changed at all. The passion is still there…”
What drew the network together in the first place?
“We all had a passion for wanting to do something different. Everybody had been in different kinds of bands… rock bands, funk bands, cover bands… and we were drawn to the idea “lets try to do something that no band has ever done before.” Whether we succeeded in that endeavor is up to the audience, but that was our goal.”
You’ve famously kept (almost) all your band together over all those years. How did you manage that? What tips to do you have for other bands that are perhaps revolving-door workplaces for musicians ?
“I think the main thing is this: Always respect the thing that drew you together. Remember that thing as opposed to any conflicts, or dilemmas or all the bullshit-noise that comes up between band-members… that’s just egos. That kinda stuff can tear a band apart because you start doubting each other, you start wanting to be more creative than you think the other person’s letting you be… and all that kinda stuff starts playing games in your head. And then you end up breaking up a really beautiful thing that could’ve created something wonderful together. Of course, there’s beating a dead-horse (sometimes) but a lot of great artists that could’ve co-created together cut their careers shot because of ego.”
For the new album “Origins” DRN opened the studio doors to the public and invited them in… to be a part of an exclusive series of recording sessions… tell us about that.
“The idea came up first from our manager [Dario Nikzad ] and he brought the ideas of having a live audience while we were recording. My initial thought was: It’s gonna be extremely boring for an audience to watch us record for eight hours, I thought: Who would wanna pay to come and see that? And yet it sold-out… really fast. And we were like: Wow! This is something that’s vital. So it came down to: We gotta do it, we gotta see if we can make it work…”
“The first one was in Manchester [at the Blueprint] and there was 150 people in the audience. And to see their faces light-up watching us make mistakes [in the studio] and having us having to start over… Or seeing them really get focused when we were working on a kick-drum pattern or drum-fill or part of the guitar riff or a solo… they got to see how we relate to each other as a group (we’re not just a bunch of cocky musicians trying to get our space together.) They discovered that : No, we’re a bunch of really good friends who are trying to experiment together. So I think the audience enjoyed the process, or at least they told us they did.”
Where else did you do it?
“Power Station in New York, Nia Studios in Portland and Studio 4 in Stockholm.”
“We have got one more in Berlin, September 29th at the old Depeche Mode studio [Hansa ] but that’s not gonna be part of an album… we are gonna re-do “The Salt Of Joy” and also a new song that we’re composing right now and that song will be a single that we will release in 2019. We haven’t got any details on it yet, not even a song-title.”
Is it healthy to break down the boundaries between artists and consumers like that? We like sausages for breakfast but don’t really want to know how they’re made! Do fans really want to see how music is made? Do they want to see the blood and entrails of recording?
“Actually (Dan smiles) I eat meat. I grew up on a beef farm… but I know what you mean. I suppose our main challenge was to make sure it was entertaining for the audience at the studio. Anyone who’s paying a hundred quid coming to an event deserves a good time. And to experience something different. So I was focused on making sure I was communicating to everybody in the audience. [Telling them} what’s gonna happen next and why. And I realized that I really enjoyed that process… it was almost like giving a lecture in a way… but at the same time really playing off the audience. Then I got lost into actually recording the song (because we had to deliver, it wasn’t just a fun & games session) then I started to realize the audience didn’t disappear… they became part of the band. So, for example, when I talk with Brion (guitar) I have been used to the other three guys listening to me… but in the studio during this process, the band became a hundred and fifty-five people… and we would ask their (the audience) input too: “Hey guys what do you think of this intro as opposed to that intro, should we add another instrument? Shall we bring the cow-bell in? Raise your hands…” And the audience really stepped-up to the plate. And I suppose we realize we had a better time than maybe even they did. We really, really felt connected to the audience at the end of the day, we’d become friends… and that’s something that I had never experienced before.”
We think it’s fascinating to explore the relationship between artist and patron in this way: You encouraged audience participation (included providing backing vocals) on some of the tracks on Origins… how did that go?
“At first some were nervous that they couldn’t do it. But (I have learned) everyone is capable of singing. It’s usually the fear that prevents [them] from trying, from being in pitch, or in-tune or in time. As soon as you get rid of that fear I’ve noticed that 100% of people can do it. So we had 150 people singing in pitch, singing in time and singing in harmony. No problem. It was just magic. I was blown away by how much it worked.”
“The next day the comments were so positive. “We’ve never had an experience like that, and we’re big music fans” they told us. ”
So why is the new album titled “Origins” ?
“It’s because there are songs from our past that [we all] felt represented different sides of DRN. Ballads, mid-tempo songs, funk-rock and pop rock [Ritual.] We figured we should cover where we came from, what was out history & our foundation… for example at the time of “Ritual” we had just got our record deal and we were laying a free show in Portland, Oregon at a fifteen-hundred seat theatre, to thank Portland for supporting us. I wrote “Ritual” on a 12-track in the studio at my house as kinda like an opening song as a thank-you letter. And that song ended up being our first single [1988 ] so our most well known song was just a thank-you letter to our hometown fans.”
“And that’s the origins of the band. But we’ve also got a future too. Everything goes full circle, everything goes around. So is our future going to be our past? And will out past become our future? So “Origins” is about that… where we came from and where we are headed…”
Where would you like to be? Is there a destination?
“I don’t know for sure. But maybe where there’s no hopes and no regrets… If still have hope and you hang onto regret you’ll never find peace.”
Why isn’t LOVER on the album?
“Yes, I know why you’re asking. It’s some of my musician friend’s favorite song. But for me it’s this weird kinda ballady mid-tempo song that, if we’re going to do “Rainbow Child” out of four new songs. “Lover” is another mid-tempo number, it didn’t really suit. If it was a choice of the two, I figured we should do “Rainbow Child” first and, if we ever do another album like this in the future, we’ll incorporate some of those we missed. Though I must add we’re definitely planning to play it live…”
DAN REED was chatting with @neilmach
Main image Credit: © Anders Gustafsson
The November 2018 Headline UK Tour will see the band take in major cities across the UK in support of the new album. Special guests on the tour are Mason Hill and Hollowstar. Check dates in tour poster below video.
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