|Dan Reed - Über Röck Interview Exclusive|
|Written by Rob Watkins|
|Wednesday, 04 April 2012 05:30|
When Dan Reed played an acoustic show in spitting distance of ÜRHQ earlier this year we couldn't wait to mix it up with the rock legend. Rob Watkins got networking and managed to grab an exclusive interview with the main man. Read on as Dan talks about his future music plans, his time supporting the likes of Bon Jovi and the Rolling Stones, covering Dio, and inspiring a member of Buckcherry to undertake a career in music. Must-read words from one of the good guys.....
You've had quite a unique journey both musically and personally; a successful music career, a venture into acting, the nightclub business, your spirituality and beliefs - how would you describe your life thus far?
Yeah, I don't know how to describe one's life. I would say I've just been very fortunate to have met so many artists and been to so many different countries and been able to have so many great experiences that maybe I wouldn't have had I stayed parked at home my whole life. So yeah, it's been amazing.
Your 2010 release, 'Coming Up For Air', is an incredibly strong collection of songs with a feeling of honesty and warmth. What was the inspiration, influence and meaning behind the album's songwriting process?
That whole album was kind of written while I was travelling through Northern India, living in Jerusalem in Israel, Palestine. I was over there for about 4 years so that album was composed during that time period but it was also me making peace with kinda turning my back on music, making peace with mistakes that I'd made in my previous years prior to that when I was quite addicted to drugs and alcohol. You know, I made a lot of bad decisions in a 4 year period so that whole album was a kinda confession and an apology to myself and a commitment to try not to make those same mistakes again.
What's the story behind the video to 'Closer'?
Yeah, well 'Closer' to me was about missing all my friends back in Jerusalem that I had made, missing friends in Portland, Oregon that I hadn't seen for many years at the time when I wrote that song, and then I recorded it in Portland, Oregon so it's a kinda full circle thing about just the real value in life and your relationships with your loved ones, your family and friends. I think that's the thing that transcends all business decisions and money problems and government and politics and all that stuff it's really just your relationships with your neighbour and your family, so that song is just about longing for those connections in your life when you're having a tough day or a difficult time in your life and you can just conjure them up, you know, the souls that helped you get back on track.
How much has the music business changed from your days in the Dan Reed Network through to the Dan Reed of 2012?
The obvious thing is the whole internet thing, how it's levelled the playing field for every artist. I think in the old days it was all about getting the coveted record deal, it was the whole big thing, it was the dream to reach the world; you no longer need a record label to do that, you might need a record label to help with promotion or if your music is radio worthy, like radio worthy in the eyes of consultants and programme directors and, of course, people who listen to radio, so, you know, it's changed a lot but it's the same. Back when I was a kid it was The Archies that were the pop music and now I think the quality of pop music is a lot better, artists like Lady Gaga and stuff like that.
What was the decision behind setting up your own record label, Zero One Records?
I think it just came from "Let's just go out there and see if there's an audience for this particular music for this record." We talked to a couple of labels, you know a label deal and/or distribution, and it just seems like either this is gonna be a total uphill battle for them, I mean the lyrics on this album to try and get this played on radio, or it was gonna be a miscommunication between artist and money. I guess you would say as far as who's gonna back and put out all the promotional materials and stuff like that, so this seemed like more sense to come at it from an independant angle, especially with all the great access to the web, and be able to reach everybody if you're resourceful enough and have music that's worth listening to.
How did the charity single, a cover of the Dio classic 'Holy Diver', released as a download in 2011, come about? It features quite an impressive line-up of musicians too.
We're waiting for 90 days on iTunes to find out how well it's done, but the whole concept of it was that I played it as kind of a funeral song in Vienna on the night he had passed away and have been playing it ever since then. People seemed to connect with it and they like this version of the song, so when it came time to talk about recording it the obvious thing would be to have it 100% for raising money for his cancer foundation, Stand Up And Shout. The other artists, they were people I had met long ago and I ran into Tony Carey (Rainbow) and Kings X, I'd always been a fan of their music, Jerry Gaskill and I had connected in New Jersey in New York about a year ago. I met Stevie D from Buckcherry at the Download festival in England last year and this is an interesting story about how The Dan Reed Network were playing in Los Angeles in this club and he had come out there with this friend of his, moved out there from Cleveland and had just arrive in L.A. and I guess the Dan Reed Network was a band he loved a lot. He was right in the middle of making decisions of what he wanted to do with his life, music or something else and he came down to see us play at, I think it was, The Roxy in L.A. and the show was sold out and he couldn't get tickets after doing this whole road-trip across the country listening to the Network the whole way! This is Stevie telling the story. So when I'm going in to do the soundcheck, I saw him outside and I said "Hey" and I gave him and his friend passes to come to the show that night and he said that night cemented his desire to play music as a career. So that was a great honour when he told me that story. I thought it would be great to have him play on the song also; great people, really great artists, good souls.
Any great anecdotes of your touring mates such as Bon Jovi, The Rolling Stones and David Bowie to name but a few from your days in The Dan Reed Network?
The biggest one I guess out of all of them was playing in Praque, where I'm now living actually, in 1990 right after the Berlin Wall had come down. There was about 140-150,000 people at the concert, I think it was the biggest show of the tour and 3 weeks before that show happened there was doubt of it going ahead because these promoters from the Czech Republic were really just flying by the seat of their pants putting this together because the wall had just come down and they'd never done a rock concert like this, the biggest production in the world to their town and there wasn't even enough hammers in the whole country to build the stage. But they pulled it off bringing rock and roll to the Eastern Block. I think that's my favourite ancedote of the lot, being the opening band we became the first actual performance band.
What albums or musical artists are you currently listening to or have been inspired by.
New stuff I'm listening to.....I like this Arcade Fire record that was amazing, I think it won the Grammy, didn't it? There's a new band that's not signed yet out of Bolton, England called Drama. They're gonna be huge, they remind me a lot of maybe what Queen was like when they first started out, really good at advanced arrangements, great chord progressions, great melodies, great lyrics and a lot of nice harmonies - that's a band that I'm really into right now. There's bands that I work with on the label - Stephanie Schneiderman who is from Portland, Oregon; she's more of an electronic/folk artist, amazing stuff, and also Auditory Sculpture if you're into ambient. I call it off-world music, it feels like you're travelling to other dimensions when you listen to his stuff, you know.
So you're now living in Europe, is there a specific reason for the relocation?
I live in Praque. I originally moved to Europe, to Paris actually, about 3 years ago because of the girl I was dating there and then. When her and I split up I decided to move to Praque, I just felt this is a great city for being, I dunno, open minded as an artist, to come out and see wonderful architecture everyday. Everybody says the beer is really good here - I'm not much of a beer drinker but they say it's great - the people, everything about it, the city is just wonderful. I'm loving it.
And what does the future hold for Dan Reed on the recording and touring front? Are there any goals or aspirations you'd like to achieve musically or personally?
Musically it'd just be nice for every album to be a little different from the last and try to venture out from the comfort zone. This last record, 'Coming Up For Air', is definitely my most understated chill out type of record; I think the lyrics represent that time period of daydreaming of what it's like to have peace and balance in this world, which being in India and Jerusalem really affords you to have those thoughts. This next album is a little more pointed after coming back and seeing the audacity of hope in America, the Obama administration has been disappointing but still looks better than the other options, and that's even more frightening. Any goals or aspirations? I would say to keep trying to write music and lyrics that hopefully give people a break from the chaos of their day and hopefully have some relevance as far as being inspiring to music lovers, that would be my hope and goal.....and to meet some aliens someday would be really nice. That's a personal goal of mine, I'd like to hear what their music is like....
Thank you very much Dan, from everybody at Uber Rock.
Thank you for spreading the word about the music.