With the Dan Reed Network (DRN) about to hit the UK and with new album Origins out due out, front man Dan Reed himself took time out to answer a Q & A for general release. So, without further ado, RAMzine invites you to read on, to hear what the man has to say…
RAMzine: You are going to release your new album Origins this month. How did you come up with the idea to have a live audience while recording the songs for the album?
Dan Reed: The idea was originally brought up by our co-manager Dario Nikzad. Being in his late 20s at the time he was quite in tune with what artists should be doing to be inventive. Dario and I had a lot of conversations about how to morph the concept into a total immersive day of music but also have some fun with it; involving the audience as part of the band and having them sing vocals, share a meal and an unplugged concert. Also renting silent disco headphones for everyone became imperative so that everyone could experience the audio we were hearing in the band headphones.
RAMzine: Tell us more about what it was like to have fans witness and participate in your recording process?
Dan Reed: We were quite unsure what to expect for the first one! I was concerned people would be bored hearing each musician doing multiple takes of their parts, something we in the band take for granted as being a bit tedious but often necessary. However, it turned out everyone really enjoyed the process, mistakes and all… especially the mistakes it seemed!
Then the process took on a natural feeling that the audience was an extension of the band and all was not only smooth sailing but even more enjoyable for us band members. At the end of the day we are recording music for others to listen to and to have a live audience there while we are tracking is a tremendous opportunity to make decisions then and there if something is working beyond our own imaginations. To be honest I wouldn’t mind recording all future albums this way 🙂
RAMzine: What was the idea behind recording a new song and rerecording an older song in each city/studio?
Dan Reed: Originally, the idea was only to do one song per day, which in and of itself is a challenge during a normal recording session. We are after all tracking drums, bass, guitars, keys and vocals… all within an eight-hour period. I felt since we were going to be in these amazing studios with a great audience we should try and do as much as we can and the idea of tracking a DRN classic song at each studio came to life.
We solved the problem of time constraints by tracking the older song’s music either the night before or early in the morning before the audience arrives. That way we could just focus on getting everyone singing vocals on the classic track after our dinner breaks and focus primarily on the new track most of the day. So far, all four sessions we have done in Manchester, NYC, Portland and Stockholm have worked out perfectly timing wise!
RAMzine: Do you have any good stories from the sessions for us? Did anything memorable happen (apart from the obvious)?
Dan Reed: Some funny moments include our bassist Melvin Brannon catching a nap in front of 150 people and us in the band having a laugh at his expense. Some of the attendees being caught singing out loud when they were meant to be silent and their voices being recorded on the drums tracks… always a good laugh as well. We also had a blast trying to remember old DRN songs that the audience requested us to play for the unplugged concerts. Often embarrassing not recalling your own songs you wrote! But mostly what we experienced through all these was a warm bonding of friendship and brotherhood/sisterhood that I believe will resonate the rest of our lives. That is what I remember the most, and what I believe and hope we all took with us home after these events.
RAMzine: What is the meaning behind the album title Origins?
Dan Reed: Because DRN disappeared off the map in 1993 and reappeared in 2013 twenty years later I thought Origins was a good title for an album that would be showcasing what we are writing now in 2018 while also paying homage to our past and the songs that helped us gain notoriety back in the day. Any band’s foundation can often dictate where they will land in the end… so our origins may very well be our future? There is also a documentary on DRN’s musical journey coming out in 2019 so looking back as well as forward has been in our lives these last years.
RAMzine: What does the new album mean to you and are you looking forward to touring it?
Dan Reed: Origins is simply an album reaching toward the future of where we want to head as musicians while happily looking back to what inspired us to get together in the first place all those many years ago. Personally, this album is about the resilience of friendship and recognising that sometimes the things we desire the most are staring us right in the face. We simply need to open our eyes and our hearts and witness how fortunate we are as human beings, searching, hungering for, and finding love and acceptance. And yes! We are thrilled to be touring the U.K. this November and seeing how the new material and the new versions of the older songs come across live. We can’t wait!
RAMzine: What is your favourite part about touring and what are you looking forward to the most on the Origins tour?
Dan Reed: All the guys in DRN have an insane sense of humour and at the same time care deeply about the future, and the state of the world… so being on the road is loaded with either hilarity or deep conversations backstage or while traveling… but I can also say that witnessing all the smiling faces in the audience each evening and meeting people after the shows and hearing their thoughts is behind inspiring and gives us the fire to continue writing, recording and spending time away from our homes to bring our brand of live music to their towns and countries!
RAMzine: What is a day like on tour with Dan Reed Network? What do you do on days off?
Dan Reed: That all depends on how exhausted we are from the night before! We sometimes find a theatre and catch a film we’ve all been wanting to see. We really like sharing meals together since our bassist Melvin Brannon and drummer Dan Pred are good food critics! It’s always entertaining watching them talk about the meals everyone has ordered… we are even toying with the idea of starting our own online channel where we critique food, films, politicians, etc. And of course, we all dig sightseeing and wanna be photographers… so we get out of the hotels and take advantage of being in beautiful cities far from home.
RAMzine: Are you looking forward to coming back to the UK?
Dan Reed: Absolutely! The UK, and Scandinavia, have always been a second home for DRN since our very first shows this side of the pond in 1988! The UK audience certainly knows how to cut loose and have a good time at the shows… they celebrate live music with a vengeance and a band could not ask for anything more when touring!
RAMzine: And finally, tell us the best show you have ever been to and why it was the best show?
Dan Reed: That’s a difficult one to answer… James Taylor playing to a packed Madison Square Gardens armed only with an acoustic guitar and great songs was fantastic… Radiohead supporting U2 and witnessing the 50,000 people singing the songs with their full hearts was thrilling… but I would have to say Prince live in Wembley Arena in 1990 stands out the most. To see this powerhouse of an artist dancing and singing his ass off while getting the entire arena on their feet dancing was truly awe inspiring! Never again will this world witness a musician such as Prince. It remains my favourite live show to date!