The Dan Reed Network will kick off their extensive UK run this week in support of their new studio album Origins.
While recording the album Dan Reed Network took a revolutionary approach to their creative process by opening the studio doors to the public and inviting them in to be a part of an exclusive series of recording sessions that spanned the globe with tracks that would eventually become Origins recorded at Blueprint Studio’s in Manchester, The Power Station in NYC, Nia Studios in Portland Oregon and finally Studio 4 in Stockholm.
National Rock Review recently caught up with Dan Reed in London to talk about Dan Reed Network’s forthcoming UK tour, their latest album Origins as well as well Dan’s plans for 2019.
NRR: So obviously, you’ve got a new album coming out which is titled Origins, which is coming out on the 23rd November. Now what I love about this album is how you’ve approached the recording of the record by hosting these sort of in-studio events with your fans. Can you share with us a little bit about this idea and how it came to fruition?
Dan: Yeah, well the original idea started off as recording one song, there was no album idea, but it came from our manager Dario Nikzad. He said why don’t you try recording a song in front of a live audience and just have a whole daylong event and let them be part of the process. My first thought was that it was a terrible idea, because for us in the studio, it can be quite tedious recording because you are making mistakes and you are starting over and you are doing one instrument at a time. I thought it would be really, really boring for the audience. So my first thought was absolutely not (laughing), it sounds ridiculous. Then I saw some videos …. of a band called Snarky Puppy where they were in the studio, not recording an album, but they were doing like a live show for 90 minutes, and all of the audience had headphones on. I was like I remember just seeing the smile on people’s faces watching the process of these guys creating this beautiful fusion music live and I thought maybe this could work you know; maybe people will enjoy it. So I said yes.
Then I came up with the idea of adding in an old classic DRN song into that studio session so everybody can sing some background vocals, we want people to have fun right? So we decided we would do “Ritual” and then we realised we can pull off recording two songs in one day. Then it was like why don’t we do this again in New York at the Power Station? Why don’t we do this again in our hometown? Why don’t we do one for the Swedish folks up there? It just ended up becoming a record out of nowhere.
NRR: When you are in the studio you are typically recording with the band and with your engineers/producer and such like. Did you feel that you had more pressure on you by actually recording with an intimate audience around you? Did you change your approach to how you would record being in that kind of scenario?
Dan: Well we thought it would. We were quite concerned about the process of like would we act differently, would we feel like we need to perform as opposed to get a song recorded. Do we need to entertain the folks there? Actually, that melted away within the first hour of the first session in Manchester. After a while we just realised, oh you know what, instead of a five-piece band now it’s 155 piece band. So we will just act the same as we would normally do. The audience seemed to love it because we are always having a good time when we are recording anyway, we give each other a bad time, we make fun of ourselves when we are by ourselves. So we said why don’t we just be ourselves the whole time and people will either find it entertaining or not and the feedback after the first session which is what gave us the impetus to do another session and keep doing them was just so positive. Everybody said we had such a great time watching Dan Pred figuring out his drum fills. Melvin fell asleep for example when we were recording some guitar parts; Melvin the bass player just fell asleep on the floor (laughing), and we all just had a laugh at him. That’s what he does, he will take a nap at the studio, so it was great for everybody to catch what we are really like in real life.
NRR: Having recorded in front of a studio audience for Origins would you ever consider utilising this methodology again for future projects?
Dan: Absolutely. We are doing another session in December in Berlin, on Dec 29th in David Bowie and Depeche Mode’s old studio called Hansa studio. It used to be right on the border where the Berlin Wall was. So we are doing that on the 29th, and that will be for a single we release in 2019. Then we are going to make a new album for 2020, I just don’t know if we are going to be able to logistically be able to do it in a similar fashion. Maybe we will do the whole album in some remote location like in Jamaica or something and just invite people to come down and spend a couple of weeks with us in like a holiday let’s make an album thing (laughing). Who knows?
NRR: What I was kind of interested in is obviously you were laying down these new tracks in the studio and you had this audience around you. When you were going into the studio were you kind of going in with ideas for songs or did you know exactly what you were going to do and how you were going to lay it down and what it was going to sound like or did it come together there and then?
Dan: That’s a good question. We demo everything first. My guitar player was living in Honduras at the time – Brion. Rob Daiker the keyboard player, co-producer and engineer that mixes all of our stuff lives in Portland, Oregon. I’m living in Prague, the bass player lives in Los Angeles, the drummer lives in Portland, Oregon. So what we would do is just demo stuff, send it back and forth to everybody, gets everybody’s parts, record the demos, input thoughts about the arrangement and work it out to about 80%. Then when we got into the studio with the live audience we would work out that other 20% in front of the audience; the same thing we would do, exactly what we would do if we were recording without an audience.
So we don’t leave a lot to chance, because you are going into a really nice studio and you have a budget, and you have people working – engineers, we were also filming these events, so we had a four-person film crew. So you don’t want to have it just be an experimental nightmare, you want to kind of have your act together. But we definitely invited the audience to throw in their thoughts and opinions. Raise your hands if you like this idea and get them to vote on certain questions that we had as a band. Like, you as an audience, since you are going to be buying this record, and you are going to be at the shows, how do you like this intro and we would play it for them and then we would play another version of it, and now vote on it (laughing). It was cool, we really enjoyed it.
NRR: So the first single from Origins is “Fade To Light” which is a great song, I really like it a lot. It got premiered on Planet Rock Radio. I was just wondering if you could tell us a little bit about that song and the inspiration behind it.
Dan: Yeah well the gestation of that song started off with Brion James the guitar player sent me a track of a groove, like a verse groove and a chorus groove, and it didn’t really have in chord changes to it. So I just loved the feeling of it, of the tempo and the vibe, so I started adding this kind of organ chord changes on top of it and I came up with the melody for it. I sent that to Brion and I said what do you think of this idea. He liked it a lot and the concept of fading to light, as opposed to fading away or fading into darkness.
How do you write something about taking something that is usually a dark term and turning it into something positive? So the title “Fade To Light” came to mind. And then I was like how do I write lyrics that exemplify that, and that seems like what the Network has always been about; trying to take this crazy conflicted world we live in and celebrate it as opposed to argue about our differences.
NRR: Besides the album you’ve got a tour coming up, with probably one of your biggest UK runs in a while throughout November. What can the fans expect from the show this time around?
Dan: Well it’s going to be a long set. We are going to definitely touch on all of our history and the classic songs, but we are going to bring back some songs from the old days that we’ve never played live from the first three albums. Because we’ve been playing all of the songs that people have come to expect so we thought we would play a few off the beaten path, tracks from the old days. Then we are going to play quite a bit of the new stuff as well.
NRR: Obviously on this run, you are going to be back in the North East of England which is where I’m from. You’ve got a show at the Riverside Newcastle on the 8th November. I know you’ve played in the North East many times over the years, both solo and with the Network. I was just wondering what do you enjoy most about playing in the Newcastle area?
Dan: Well Newcastle, I mean I’m really good friends with, not really good friends but I’ve learned a lot from Brian Johnson from AC/DC. That whole area up there Scotland, Northern England people just party hard up there, they don’t hide their emotions when it comes to rock and roll, they sing more than any other audience. Northern Ireland is very similar, but anywhere in the world – Newcastle, Scotland and Northern Ireland are the best places if you want to celebrate rock and roll and have everybody singing along. To me, it’s the most boisterous fun time you can have playing rock and roll (laughing).
NRR: You’ve hit the nail right on the head there I think.
Dan: Yeah, I don’t know what it is. I’m always amazed when you walk around in Newcastle in the dead of winter and the woman are walking around with no shoes on, carrying their high heels with short dresses and they are not bothered. These are tough people that like to celebrate life (laughing) and you can see that when you are playing shows too.
NRR: Besides the UK shows I know that you are going to be rounding out 2018 with a special Dan Reed Network concert in Prague, which is obviously your hometown these days. Can you tell us a little bit about that?
Dan: Well I’m taking next year off from doing any solo shows or realising a solo album. I’m just taking a break so I can spend more time with my son. He’s just turned 6 years old, and we said what’s a good way to end the year before I take a break. And we thought why don’t we do a show where I’m living now, and have the Network come over. I wanted to bring all of the Network over to my hometown and have a big party basically and say thank you to all of the guys and invite people from all over the world to come there. I think it’s a beautiful city, it’s a wonderful place to bring in the New Year because there’s still no fireworks laws so there are crazy firework displays on every town square that the public puts on. So it’s a mind-blowing place to party especially at the end of the year.
The forthcoming Dan Reed Network will commence on Wednesday 7th November at the Robin in Bilston and will run through until 25th November where it will culminate at Manchester’s Club Academy. Special guests for the tour will be Mason Hill and Hollowstar.
DAN REED NETWORK “ORIGINS” NOVEMBER 2018 UK TOUR
Special Guests MASON HILL & HOLLOWSTAR – TICKETS www.danreed-network.com/tickets
|Bilston, The Robin 2
||Wednesday 7 November
||Thursday 8 November
|Inverness, Monsterfest, The Ironworks
||Saturday 10 November
|Glasgow, The Garage
||Tuesday 13 November
|Wakefield, Warehouse 23
||Wednesday 14 November
|Pontypridd, Muni Arts Centre
||Friday 16 November
|Chester, The Live Rooms
||Saturday 17 November
||Wednesday 21 November
|Derby, The Venue
||Thursday 22 November
|London, 229 Venue – Album Launch Party
||Friday 23 November
|*London, The Landor – Exclusive Album Listening Party
||Saturday 24 November
|Manchester, Club Academy
||Sunday 25th November
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