Dan Reed Fight's Another Day

Rockgig From the release of your debut release thought to your most successful cd in the UK The Heat in 1991 you were riding the crest of a wave how do you look back at that time of your career now?

Dan Reed I have nothing but fond memories of the past, and a deep gratitude to all who gave so much energy to introducing us to the world from Polygram, the radio stations, promoters, and most importantly all those who enjoyed our music and made the shows so much fun. In fact one of the reasons I decided to move to Prague where I reside now was my memory of opening for the Rolling Stones here and the experience of being here right after the Berlin Wall had come down. The experiences from the late 80’s/early 90’s still affect me to this day in a positive way

 And the highlights?

Meeting some of my musical hero’s and finding them to be down to earth and humble is probably my most endearing and insightful memories. Robert Plant, David Bowie, the boys in INXS, Charlie Watts from the Stones… all kind and generous souls. 

Photo Credit: Amanda Rose

The summer of 1993 and the band went on hiatus for 19 years were you all just burned out?

I can’t speak for the other band members, but for myself I wouldn’t say burned out, more disillusioned with the business. It was becoming more about ‘writing a hit song’, or selling merchandise, and less about melodies and lyrics… songs. The main reason I became a musicians was that search for the song screaming to come out. As the years rolled on that passion grew farther and farther away and for this reason I decided to take a break and find other avenues that fed the creative process. 

During your break from the music business you experienced some amazing experiences like living in India, Jersualem and a Tibetan monastery. Do you draw on those experiences on a daily basis now?

I can only hope that I do when it comes to composing lyrics, their intention. I certainly have a wealth of memories from those travels, and often I refer back to the journal I kept while in those places to remind me the intention of why I came back to music and live performances. 

What drew you back to the music business?

This goes back to your last question. While in India at the Tibetan Monastery a monk named Sonam asked me out of the blue to teach him the Queen song ‘We Will Rock You’. He didn’t know the name of the song, only sand me the drum beat. I asked him where he heard this song and he explained he heard it once on a tourist’s tape player and wanted to know what the singer was on about. It was then and there I started picking up the guitar again, teaching him this song and others and started composing again at the Monastery. It wasn’t long after that I moved to Jerusalem and built a little home studio and all this new music started pouring out which became my first solo album ‘Coming Up For Air’. So in essence I blame the Tibetan Monks and the state of the world for calling me back to studio and stage. 

The music business has changed hugely during your career what are your thoughts on the music business now?

I think it’s fantastic in some ways. The internet has leveled the playing field… giving the artists full access to the world whether they have a label behind them or not. Music software for recording has made it affordable for anyone no matter what their budget to make a quality album or single and give it to the world to judge immediately and not be held back by the industry believing in them or not. This is great and a humbling the industry needed. A negative in my opinion is the addiction to the ‘X Factor’ type shows. It’s basically hi-octane karaoke shows where the producers and advertisers make the lion share of the money parading often very talented vocalists and performers out on their shows. It could be argued that yes a handful of great artists have been discovered this way, but is it any more than it was in the old days? That’s debatable. I would admire this format much, much more if these shows honored not just vocal talent, but writing talent as well. Then I would tune in every week for sure. 

New Years Eve 2012 was going to be a one off show had you kept in contact with the guys in the band?

I was definitely in touch with Dan Pred and Blake Sakamoto in the preceding years leading up to our NYE show in 2012. Melvin Brannon Jr. from time to time we would touch base ever couple of years. Brion James and I hadn’t really spoken for over 15 years at the time. I put all the guys in a very strange place when I left the band. It wasn’t fair how I ended things. It was self motivated and didn’t fully take in to consideration all the time, energy and commitment they had put in to the band at the time, and the fact it was their livelihood. It created some bad blood, but thankfully time healed those wounds, and we found our way back to each other. 

Photo Credit: Laurence Harvey

It was evident that the magic was still there who said let's keep this going?

Oddly enough the one guys who is no longer in the band was probably the biggest catalyst for us considering the idea and that was Blake Sakamoto. It was actually a mutual friend at the time named Bart Hafeman who suggested us doing the NYE show, and the rest is history. Regarding making a new album it came up while touring a couple years back while in Europe. 

Did you feel under more pressure when writing the new material that stands up to your past work?

Writing and release new music for the world to enjoy, judge, dismiss, ect. always comes with a certain amount of pressure to succeed in the endeavor. Perhaps it was a little more this time around, but to be honest when one is immersed in composing the only thing that comes to mind is the song’s intention, and finishing it. The easiest thing to do is to give up on a song before it’s said all it wants to say. That’s the real pressure! 

With the new album is it all new material?

Yes, except for two songs ‘Heaven’ and ‘Sharp Turn’… both of these songs were composed for a solo project I was doing back in Portland in 2001. 

Did you demo the material before hitting the studio?

Absolutely. It’s always been that way with DRN. The technology has changed… instead of us all living in the same city and coming over to each other’s houses and listening to demos or listening in the car, then rehearsing them we instead now do it over the internet, Skype, dropbox, and once we are all happy with the demo process we choose which songs to include in the album. With ‘Fight Another Day’ we worked with Derek Shulman who was our A&R man at Polygram for our first DRN album once again, and he helped us shape the arrangements on a quite a few songs. Derek is a great song man… and you can’t argue with the lead vocalist of ‘Gentle Giant’ :-) 

Was it a modern record with ideas back and forth on the Internet or was it written with you all together?

As stated above it’s sometimes a collaborative effort and sometimes I am writing them on my own. Brion, Rob Daiker and I composed a few songs together on this release. Brion composed one track called ‘Save the World’, and the rest were my own writings.

Where did you record the new cd?

Some of the keyboard parts and FX elements were recording in Prague in my home studio, and in a local studio called ‘Faust Studios’ where they have a ton of retro keyboards, the drums and bass were recorded in ‘Falcon Studios’ in Portland, Oregon, and the most of the guitars and vocals were recorded in ‘The Commune’ studio, also in Portland. Brion James then did some final touches of guitar work in his home studio in Honduras. 

How long did it take to record?

The demo process was about a 8 month period, and where some of the keys and FX elements came from, but the lion’s share of recording, mixing and mastering took about 2 and half months. 

Did you ever have a song in your solo career and think that is a DRN song?

Yes… I have a song called ‘All I Need is You’ that I think would have been great for DRN. 

The cd is called Fight Another Day what is the meaning behind the name of the CD?

It has a double meaning. The members of DRN getting back together to perform live and make a new album was a small miracle, and therefore we have come together to make some noise again for the future, but the second meaning is more about are we as a human race prepared to set aside our differences over religion, politics, ethnicity and sexuality to rise above the problems that are challenging us for our very own survival? Will we choose humanity over technology… will we choose compassion and empathy over violence and fear? Will we come together to enhance our chances of thriving instead of giving in to fear and division. These are the questions the songs on this album presents, and hopefully the theme that comes forth. 

Do you have a favourite song?

Personally my favourite track is ‘Champion’ and where the album title ‘Fight Another Day’ gets its name from. It is a song about surrounding yourself with people that believe in your dreams, push you to reach higher, and don’t try to tear you down. I think all too often we find ourselves surrounded by what I call ‘energy vampires’ and it’s important to steer clear of that path if we wish to excel in chasing our passion in life. 

Your recent pledge campaign saw the release of the Champion video last week? Can you tell us about the story behind the song and will there be any more videos coming soon?

Well I explained the song’s intention above, but the video is about sharing the faces of a multitude of different personalities, people from every walk of life, to hopefully present the idea that we are all in this together, rich and poor, black and white, Muslim’s and Christians, atheists, right wing and left wing… we all make up this beautiful tapestry of humanity, and until we embrace that idea we will always be doomed to being at odds with each other. And yes, we will be releasing 3 more videos over the next 4 months. They are already filmed and edited. 

What do you see as success in 2017? Critical acclaim, CD sales or more on a personal level?

That’s a good question… I think being able to perform out on the road, celebrating life at the shows, meeting those who support our journey and hearing their feedback, learning from that journey and continuing to be able to create and release new music is primarily what we thrive on. Becoming wealthy has never been an ambition, but being able to make a living while playing music for the world is a great honour and one we hope we have the opportunity to continue doing. 

Photo Credit Mark Evans

I was fortunate to be at last year’s show in Swindon and the fun and vibe on stage was incredible. Do you have to pinch yourself that this happening so many years later?

All the time and after every show we sit in the dressing room smiling, exhausted but smiling and remind ourselves how blessed and grateful we are to have so much love and support from people in this world. 

How did you find out about the Fatboys charity?

I did a house concert for one of the folks who is involved with Fatboys originally… that led to more house concerts and eventually playing solo at a couple of their most important charity events. DRN playing there last year was a great honour, and we are thrilled to be returning to play their even in Swindon again this March as the kick off to the UK leg of the tour!  

You have a European tour soon what can we expect at the shows? Many new songs?

Yes, for sure… we will be playing a long set due to wanting to play the classic DRN songs, but also 5 or 6 songs from the new album as well. We are also excited to have our special guests ‘VEGA’ on tour with us in the UK. Great rock band and even nicer guys! 

Will you continue with your solo work alongside DRN?

 Absolutely. They are two different beasts. DRN is more externalized energy… big and loud, funky and rocking’, whereas my solo work is more internal energy, controlled, acoustic based. I enjoy exercising both of these directions as an artist, both in the studio and on stage. Yin and Yang. 

What plans do you have for the rest of 2017?

I have a new ambient instrumental visual album I will be releasing soon, and a new solo album project in the works, along with composing new material for a possible new DRN album for 2018. More live shows throughout Europe and the US, both solo, my solo trio and with DRN, and possibly making more videos for ‘Fight Another Day’ is on the horizon.

One last question is about your shows with Danny Vaughn. You have an amazing chemistry on stage but you only met a couple of years ago which amazes me so how did you meet?

We met with Tyketto and DRN were on the same stage together at Download a few years back. We ran in the same circles back in the late 80’s/early 90’s but never crossed paths until that day and have been friends ever since. Danny and I will be doing our ‘Snake Oil and Harmony’ show on the Monsters of Rock Cruise in a couple of weeks… can’t wait! 

What do you most admire about Danny Vaughn?

Danny is a consummate song writer, one of the best vocalists in the rock world, and one of the most humble, intelligent and down to earth human beings I have had the chance to befriend. I agree with him on political and social issues as well. He also has an insane sense of humor and has an amazing command over doing all the voices of my favorite cartoon characters from my youth. So there is not much I don’t admire about Mr. Vaughn. 

Do you think that we could expect you and Danny to record something together?

This idea has been in the works since last year. We both want to make it happen and have been composing some songs for the concepts as well. The hard part is getting his and my schedule to line up so we can get in the studio to record, which so far has not presented itself. That day will come for sure, and I believe it will be pure magic! 

Thank you for the thoughtful interview and for spreading the word about the album, upcoming tour and the release of ‘Champion’! Happy New Year to you and your readers! Dan

Rockgig would like to thank Dan for his time and also Peter Noble at Peter Noble PR for setting up the interview.

Dan Reed Network are on tour in the UK in March 2017.

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