The Dan Reed Network - Spring 2022
The Dan Reed Network have a new Let’s Hear It For The King set for release on 17th June. Despite the delay from its original March date, and the need to reschedule the full tour until September, the band have built up huge anticipated through the release of the wholly outstanding singles Starlight and Pretty Karma. Not only that, but to coincide with the album’s release the Dan Reed Network have managed to squeeze some 4 UK dates. We catch up with frontman Dan Reed at home in Prague to get the full story…
2022 is shaping up to be a great year for the Dan Reed Network with lots of live shows and a new album, Let’s Hear It For The King, set for release on the 17th of June. I’d like to start by talking about the new album, more specifically the vision for the album. This appears to be very much the same vision as the very first Dan Reed Network album which is essentially to ‘challenge beliefs, smash down existing protocol and build something new out of shrapnel’. To me this means creating something fresh, not being tied to or constrained by what is considered to be fashionable, and quite simply not following the crowd. To what extent is this a fair statement are more broadly what does that vision mean for you?
Well the difference between then and now is that I have a 9-year-old son now and back then I was kind of more of an idealist singing about, and talking about in interviews, things that I was perhaps a little bit more hopeful about in terms of how much the human race can change. Here we are 30 something years later and it seems like we’re dealing with the same issues now as we were dealing with then, although perhaps even more intense. I think it’s more frustration and a little bit of anger focused into creativity. In 2019 when I was writing the lyrics to these songs I think that was when Trump and Biden were running for office and Brexit was happening and it just seems like the world was getting more divided between the left and the right. I thought that 30 years later we would be in a different place – and I am grateful for people like Elon Musk and those folks who are trying to look past politics and – but I think it’s a fair statement that this record is definitely pointed at the same subjects. It’s just a little bit more angry than back then. It’s more about are we ever going to turn the corner as a collective human race? Or are we going to keep fighting the same battle over and over again? That’s kind of my question now. Pretty Karma for example and Let’s Hear It For The King, these songs are all really about asking how much hypocrisy can we deal with before we crack! So I think you’re spot on there. The drive behind it is just a little different.
Well the new album may not be out until the 17th of June but we’ve been able to enjoy two singles already, and the lead single Starlight absolutely smashes it with its high energy, straight ahead beat. It’s a massively positive track which to me says ‘you can be whoever you want to be’ and then challenging the listener by asking “how are you going to make this happen?”. It’s an enormously empowering track. To what extent is a fair statement and where did the inspiration come from for this song?
Musically it came from me just coming home from an AC/DC concert in Berlin. I was blown away that there were people there from the ages of 7 to 70 and multi generations. I’m sure there was grandpa, pa, son and daughter at some of these shows, or transgender son or daughter. But it was just awesome to hear that thump – that heartbeat music that AC/DC is famous for. It moves people so much! And then you can go to a rave where it’s the same beat, the same tempo – that four on the floor beat – and there are 60,000 kids dancing to this beat. For DRN I don’t think I’ve ever done that before, just that solid disco, heavy metal – whatever you want to call it. So that’s where the music came from. When I came to writing the lyrics, social media had become such a thing where people are becoming superstars for simply doing a short dance and they had like 10 million followers because they did something cute. In the old days you had to be David Lee Roth where you record, you’re doing photo shoots and you’re touring all over the world. You really had to work for it! But with that little 10 second clip you can become a superstar. The question I wanted to ask in that song, or at least ask more in depth was ‘what are we going to do with all this new stardom?’. Is it just to feed the ego or are you actually going to help direct people in a positive direction? What are your new found powers? I don’t think the question has been answered. Even though I wrote these songs in 2019, here we are 3 years later and I don’t know if social media and TikTok has been more helpful or hurtful to society to be honest.
The latest single Pretty Karma again leaves the listener feeling hugely empowered and I have to say almost ready for an uprising! So it’s interesting that you use the word ‘angry’ because I understand that. I think the lyrics are particularly powerful: ‘stop the madness, so divided, ignorance is bliss, torn between the dark and light, show us how to rise above’. This is perhaps a particularly poignant track given the connections people may make to current European and world events. This connection must be entirely coincidental given that the lyrics were written in 2019 but did this have a bearing on the decision to release this track?
Not at all. Pretty Karma was just a song that we thought was a good song for people to hear in general and when I wrote it I was pissed off about Yemen and what was going on there. The millions and millions of dollars that we were shovelling into Saudi Arabia that they were sending to America to buy weapons to drop on people’s heads in Yemen. I don’t see anyone posting the Yemen flag on their Facebook profile! Never, never seen it! What we’re doing in America, creating those weapons and selling them to other countries to oppress other nations is horrible. So I wrote that song pissed off about that and I guess it applies to what Putin is doing now. That’s what’s really sad about it. Every 2 of 3 or 4 years, oppression is happening by some government somewhere and depending on where the media is at we are the good guys or we are the bad guys. Iraq - that’s the Heat album DRN did. That’s when we invaded Iraq even though there were tons and tons of protests all over the world to not do this war. That was Bush senior and then Bush Junior, tons of protests all over the world to not go to war but he still did it anyway. Now Bush is welcomed on all the liberal talkshows in America as some kind of hero and yet Putin is evil and the next Hitler but hundreds and hundreds of Arabs died during the Iraq war who had nothing to do with 9/11. I’m hoping that social media is eventually going to allow us all to figure out all this BS that’s going on and that the world can kind of come together in the proletariat of every country and that the leaders are going to bow down to the public once and for all! That’s my hope!
It’s been absolutely wonderful to see the fans’ reactions to the new music! Referring to Starlight, some of the specific comments made include: ‘What a killer track ‘, ‘absolutely fantastic’, ‘top of their game’, ‘monster track’, ‘absolutely awesome”. And for Pretty Karma: ‘another great track’, ‘kick ass cool!’, ‘Love, Love, Love this!’, ‘awesome!’. Dan – this is just the tip of the iceberg and I could go on and on. But how does it make you feel to hear these comments and to see how the new music is making such an incredible impact?
Well it’s an honour of course! I hope this is true for most musicians, or a painter or an actor, that you don’t want to watch your work. I’ve always said that the worst actors were the ones that were watching their work while they are acting. They may be thinking they’re acting great but for a great actor, it goes by in a flash and they when the director shouts ‘cut’, the actor doesn’t know what they did. They were just connecting with the other actor, you know? Creating a real experience and a real moment and the camera loves that. That’s why actors like Gene Hackman are beautiful, they’re not like movie stars but when you put them in a scene, they kill it! They are really connecting with the other actors. I think the same thing is true for music. When I’m writing songs I very rarely think about what people are going to say about it later. Well if they do say things about it, I try not to get wrapped up in that either because if you’re flattered by the positive comments then you’re crushed by the negative comments. So I see the positive stuff about these new singles and I’m honoured by it and I hope that when we play the songs live that people will go home and have a good energy in their heart, and that they will just be a little bit more positive the next day. That’s what I hope!
I’m conscious of the fact that the words I have used a lot to describe the new music are ‘high energy’ and ‘empowering’. How representative are these words of the new album as a whole?
It’s spot-on! I think that the whole album is about lifting ourselves up through dark times, but not like on a soapbox or being idealistic. There’s some tongue-in-cheek in there. The whole album is probably our heaviest record we’ve ever made. I mean, there’s a ballad on there that Brion (James – guitar) wrote which is the softest song on the album called I See Angels. The other ballad, so to speak, is called Last Day On Saturn and even though it’s a ballad it’s the heaviest song on the record! There’s a couple of really funky rock songs that we haven’t released yet, like three or four. You’re going to hear one of them come May called Let’s Hear It For The King which is the name of the album. There is some really funky stuff! A song called Home-grown which is about how the best kind of love is the love of friends and family, not what you’re searching for out in the world, searching for legs or attention or to feed your ego. The best love is the stuff that happens between those small moments with family and friends. It’s really funky and groovy - and it’s as heavy as hell! But I think those are good words for this album!
Let’s Hear It For The King is a really interesting title for an album. How did this come about?
Well the cover for the album is a skull but it’s a very party colour, you know, like 1980s rave colour, and it’s death as well, so the king is dead. I guess the whole theme of the record, and the theme of the movie that I made and directed for the record – which may not come out because now we’re talking about making it into a feature and the producers don’t want to release the short version now, so we will see what happens with that - but we made a whole 42 minute long film called Supernova, which is the name of one of the songs on the record, although the main track is Let’s Hear It For The King and our main character in the film is called King. He’s a humble man and he’s the opposite of what a king would be. It’s the person that toils the most, works the hardest and takes the most grief but takes it in his stride and without complaint. My father was like that on the farm, worked 15 hours a day, never drank a beer in his life. He never complained about anything. I remember one time he broke his wrist and the bone came out, and he drove himself to the hospital which was 40 miles away from the farm. He wrapped it up in a towel and just drove there. Those kind of people and that sort of toughness are what the TikTok people no nothing about! (Laughs!).
The release of the new album has been rescheduled from March to now June. You also had an extensive 9 date tour of the UK scheduled for February which understandably had to be rescheduled until September. Tell me about the band conversations that lead to these decisions being made.
Well we’ve been holding onto this record since we recorded it in January 2020 and then we thought we’d be putting it out that summer or even before summer. But then the pandemic hit and we’ve sat on the record for two years, and now we’ve had another half a year on it. We got to the point where we didn’t know whether this was ever going to come out so we weren’t too freaked out about it. It was very much the right thing to do for the pandemic. We saw that people were still sketchy about going out and buying tickets and being in a room full of sweaty people. So I thought we should just hold off until June and I hope that the number of cases goes down and all that stuff. Thankfully the virus is war-conscious because it seems to have just disappeared because of Putin’s war in the Ukraine (laughs!). But we just took it in our stride. We were very disappointed that we had to keep moving stuff around but we’d kinda gotten used to it at that point.
But the wonderful thing for fans is that we do have the September tour to look forward to. But not only that we also have a 5 date UK tour in June, labelled the Summer Escape Tour, and you are playing some wonderful venues here. How important was it for you to put this tour together and does it really feel like you need to escape?
Yeah, it’s kind of like this is the first summer where we really feel like people are going to want to get out and come to the shows – last year perhaps not so much. And the one before absolutely not! We were already booked to play Hard Rock Hell and we had some options to go and play in Sweden and France and Germany – we are doing one German show but that’s in Hamburg which is the hometown of our record label so we wanted to do one show for everyone that works at the label – but we decided to just focus on the UK because that’s where our band has always done the best. We just thought you know what, let’s give them a little treat, and we also get to rehearse the new songs on that tour because we haven’t played live together since December 2019. That was the last live show we played together and the last time I saw the boys other than on Zoom. Even the videos, like Starlight, we did that long distance on green screens. It’s been insane!
It’s amazing that you were able to do that because no one would have any idea that you had to use technology to achieve these results. You absolutely look like you were in the room together !
Our drummer (Dan Pred) is a genius, he’s a great cinematographer, editor, filmmaker, so he is the genius behind that. We got the location for the fire dancers, I asked some friends from Portland, Oregon who they thought would be the best fire dancers for the part and they did the co-production insofar as putting it all together, but then Dan Pred went out and shot it all. He was awesome and he did a great job!
For my final question I’d like to go back to the new album because I think one of the wonderful things you are doing for this release is creating a limited edition box set which has all sorts of gems such as playing cards, a keyring, sunglasses, bag, stickers. But I know that you have even created personalised, handwritten lyric sheets for each song from the new album that will be randomly placed inside the limited edition box sets. So 13 lucky people who will also get the handwritten lyric sheet and I can just imagine the looks on the fans’ faces when they open it up and find this treasure. I just think it’s something really special. Where did the idea come from to do this?
I started doing that as part of a Pledge Music campaign years ago. I did some handwritten lyrics for a few Pledge Music campaigns. I only did like 10 or 15 of them but I really enjoyed it! I love the handwriting part and kind of staying in touch with that craft. I used to love handwriting when I was younger at high school and then I forgot about it when typing and computers came into play, but I liked that art form. So I did 10 or 15 for a couple of Pledge campaigns and then during the pandemic there was a really difficult couple of months because of tours been cancelled so I just offered 50 signed lyrics and they sold out in like 2 days! And I was like ‘this is crazy’! I would’ve done more but it’s very laborious, my hands cramp and you start getting snow blindness from the paper! (Laughs!) But I love that part and I love the fact that people find it a good keepsake. A lot of guys asked me to do that, to write for their wives, for their wedding anniversaries like Stronger Than Steel or for their children Rainbow Child and I know that it’s something that’s been given from parents to kids to hold onto for the next generation, and there is something very touching about that! Remember Willy Wonka where you got the chocolate bar with the golden ticket? So we said “let’s do that with 13 songs!”, and I said “ as long as it’s only 13! I’m not going to do 50!” It’s been a lot of fun putting that together, and they’re kind of wrapped up in this really cool way, a very arty way that my girlfriend thought of!
Fantastic! The Dan Reed Network have the most fiercely loyal fans and I can just imagine the looks on the faces of the lucky 13 as they discover this treasure and the whole community opening up by asking “Did you get one?”!
Yes! “Did you get one, you bastard?!” (Laughs!)
As our conversation draws to a close, we reflect upon the huge anticipation that is building for the new album Let’s Hear It For The King. Dan Reed is clearly highly politically astute and what he has very cleverly been able to weave into his songwriting are those difficult subjects that people perhaps really need to pay attention to. There is nothing superficial about the emerging music or the messaging within. This is a high energy and empowering record and it’s The Dan Reed Network at its very best! To find out more and to pre-order the album, head over to https://danreed-Network.com.
In the meantime, check out the video to Starlight below.
***STOP PRESS*** There are some changes to the June UK tour. Check out https://danreed-Network.com for the latest information.