Dan’s The Man
Just days after hitting our vinyl throwback 12@12, with the classic Come Back Baby single, the delightful Dan Reed called up rushonrock to give us the lowdown on life after fame, fortune, addiction – and a spell with Tibetan monks.
And with new album Coming Up For Air released earlier this week there’s never been a better time to catch up with the original funk rocker.
Out on tour across the UK for the next 10 days you’d be a fool to miss one of the finest musicians of a generation but in case you do here’s what Dan’s doing these days!
rushonrock: Are you still as funky as ever 20 years on from your commercial heyday?
Dan Reed: People have been talking about that very thing immediately after our shows. And the verdict seems to be that while we have more of an acoustic sound in 2010 there’s still that funk element to what we do. The style of production has changed but the core of the melodies is the same. Fans of old still seem to connect with what’s new and that’s great to see and hear. I don’t try to be too clever with the production any more as it’s more about letting the music breathe.
rushonrock: Would you say the Dan Reed Network was over-produced back in the early 90s?
DR: Because of the fact that we were a multi-racial band with so many different tastes I tried to cater for everyone back then and that meant a very elaborate production job. I was trying to satisfy all of the musicians and I always tried to write songs which had a funky groove. That hasn’t really changed – they’re just more stripped down.
rushonrock: In 2005 you relocated to a Tibetan monastery and studied Buddhism – did you get what you wanted from that experience?
DR: In a way it saved my life, going down there and searching out what I wanted from music, if anything. Living in that monastery proved to be the foundation for what I’m doing now and I will always be grateful for the experience. One of the monks asked me to teach him how to play Queen’s We Will Rock You and it made me pick up a guitar again. He’d been a monk for most of his life and he’d heard the tune some years ago on a tourist’s CD player. This was a person who spends all of his life trying to understand compassion and all he wanted to do was learn a Queen song! I realised I had been given a great gift and a great opportunity through music and that period proved to be my salvation.
rushonrock: You were away from music for 16 years but were you ever tempted to come back before now?
DR: There was a time when I owned a nightclub in Portland and I got a good offer from the brother of the Kiss guitarist Tommy Thayer. His brother John owns a studio there and I went in and laid down around 25 tracks. They were very electric-based and I think he was looking for something more like the Dan Reed Network. But I was addicted to drink and drugs at that time and they came from a very dark place – not somewhere I can relate to these days. Having said that some people say it could be the best music I’ve ever written.
rushonrock: Why did you pack it all in in the early 1990s?
DR: There were two reasons. In 1991 I had just finished the Rolling Stones tour and before that we’d been out on the road for a long time with Bon Jovi. We saw the rock and roll lifestyle at first hand and we were at a point where we had to decide whether we wanted to take our own game to the next level and try to headline these big places in our own right or whether we wanted to take a break. I had just started to think that I wanted my life back after seven years of working non-stop and at this point making music accounted for half a percent of my time. That was the first reason I quit. Secondly grunge was just exploding in a big way and I knew the guys in Alice In Chains, Mother Love Bone and, to an extent, Soundgarden. They were making funky music but with a much rockier edge and they were singing about very serious things. At that point I felt as if my music really didn’t mean very much.
rushonrock: Now you’re back touring the UK’s clubs – a far cry from the stadium days with the Stones…
DR: It is but I love the intimacy of the smaller shows. We went from a band playing these venues to a band supporting the likes of the Stones and Bon Jovi in a very short space of time so we never really got to appreciate those intimate gigs. It might have made a difference to the longevity of DRN if we’d done more of the smaller shows.
Dan Reed is on tour at the following UK venues:
26 Cambridge Haymakers
54 Chesterton High Street, Cambridge CB4 1NG
Box Office: 01223 511511
www.greenmind.co.uk / www.wegottickets.com
Tickets: £13 in advance, £15 on door
28 Dudley JB’s
15 Castle Hill, Dudley DY1 4QF
Box Office: 0870 264 3333 (24 hr)
www.jbsdudley.co.uk / www.seetickets.com
29 Glasgow King Tuts
272A St Vincent Street, Glasgow G2 5RL
www.kingtuts.co.uk / www.ticketmaster.co.uk
30 Newcastle O2 Academy 2
Westgate Road, Newcastle NE1 1SW
Box Office: 0844 477 2000 (24 hr)
www.o2academynewcastle.co.uk / www.ticketweb.co.uk
31 Manchester Moho Live
Tib Street, Northern Quarter, Manchester M4 1LN
Box Office: 0161 832 1111
www.moholive.com / www.seetickets.com
June 2 York Duchess
Stonebow House, York YO1 7NP
Box Office: 08444 77 1000
www.theduchessyork.co.uk / www.wegottickets.com
3 Grimsby Yardbirds
Church Street, Grimsby, N.E. Lincs. DN32 7DD
Box Office: 0871 220 0260
www.myspace.com/yardbirdsrockclub / www.seetickets.com
4 Sheffield Corporation
Milton Street, Sheffield S1 4JU
Box Office: 0871 220 0260
www.corporation.org.uk / www.seetickets.com
I’m a journalist specialising in sport and rock music. Can’t play either so I write about them instead.