DAN REED (DAN REED NETWORK): “If Origins Sells A Million Copies, I’ll Pay The Backing Singers”

DAN REED (Live at The Cluny, Newcastle, U.K., February 22, 2018)
Photo: Mick Burgess

Their new album Origins, is out following their UK tour and sees Dan Reed Network rerecording four old songs and four brand new songs. Dan Reed chatted to Mick Burgess about the unique way Origins was created. Those coming to the shows, can get Origins before it’s official release date and Reed will even sign it.

You’re back on the road in the UK with Dan Reed Network in November for an 11-date tour. Are you looking forward to it?

Yes, I am very much looking forward to it. We’ve wanted to do an extended tour for a long time. The last couple of times we’ve been here have only been five or six dates but this time we’re doing fourteen shows

You’ve now played in the UK a couple of times since you put the band back together. Do you feel a groundswell of appreciation growing again each time you come back?

It does seem to be getting bigger each time we come back and hopefully we get more coming along for the new album. It’s been a really great journey so far because when we first came back again after so long away in 2013, we weren’t sure if it was going to be a one off but since then we’ve got a second album coming out and are planning our third in 2020 so whether the audience is going to be there or not we’re going to continue.

The tour with Extreme last year was a great one for you as it exposed you to a lot of people who may not have been aware you were back together as a band. Did that tour bring some new, old fans back to the band?

I’d like to think so. That tour was so much fun for us watching Extreme every night and the manager is also an old friend of ours so it was a great experience as a band and it seemed as though the audience enjoyed our set. We’ll find out soon enough if that translates into more people discovering the band or not.

The second night of your upcoming tour reaches Newcastle on 8th November. Newcastle has always been a great city for Dan Reed Network going right back to the first album. Is this a place you feel a particular bond with?

I’ve always felt a kinship with the people in the North, whether Newcastle or Scotland, they tend to be a little more celebratory and people in Northern Ireland too. They party harder and rock harder and are thicker skinned people. There’s something about that I love. I grew up on a farm in South Dakota and we didn’t complain a lot, you just worked and moved forward. Northerners are tough people who love their Rock ‘n’ Roll.

The tour is a headlining tour so you get as much time as you need up on stage each night. What sort have show do you have lined up?

It’ll be quite a long set and we’ll bring out some stuff from our back catalogue that we haven’t done before so there’ll be two or three new songs from our old days, we’ll do three off the new album, Origins and also Fight Another Day too and plenty of classics too so there’ll be surprises all around.

There’s a strong supporting cast with you too from Mason Hill and Hollowstar. Were you involved in suggesting those for the tour?

Hollowstar was suggested to me by our promotion guy, Peter Noble. I knew their music when they first started out and they are sweet humble guys and very talented so they have all the ingredients to be successful and I’m a big fan so I asked them early on. I also felt we should have three bands on like a mini festival so Mason Hill were the perfect choice. It’s going to blow everybody away. Going out on tour with these two fine young bands will be a lot of fun and hopefully we can turn our fans onto two amazing bands and hopefully we can reach out to some of their fans too.

You have a new record, Origins, due out towards the end of November. How do you feel about it ahead of its release?

I’m very excited about it. Rob Daiker did a brilliant job recording and mixing it. The new versions of the old tracks sound as good as, if not better than, the originals and the new tracks fit in really well so I think it pays respect to our roots and where we came from and also points in a direction of where we’ll be going with our new album in 2020.

Will you be selling copies in advance of its official release at your shows?

It will be available at our shows and will be released in the stores on November 23rd. So, if you want a copy early, come to the shows to get one and I’ll be out after the set to sign them.

It’s different from your regular release as it features four brand new songs and four of your classics re-recorded. Why did you decide to re-record those songs?

It only started out as a plan to record one song at a studio session in Manchester with 150 of our fans and that went so well that we decided to another one in New York and then our home town of Portland and another in Stockholm and all of a sudden we had a whole album’s worth of material that just came about through having a great time with the fans crowd funding the studio sessions. It worked out to be a pretty special album. We did four cities with two songs in each so we did an old song and a new song in each city. So, no matter which city you came to, you got to sing background vocals on an old and new song. They got to watch us record a song from scratch from the drums upwards.

How did you go about setting up this recording arrangement?

We created our own ticket company and started putting out the word to see what would happen. The first one in Manchester sold really quickly so it gave us the idea to do it in three or four other cities. We did want to do one more city but we couldn’t do it schedulewise but we do plan to do another session in Berlin on December 29th in David Bowie’s old studio, Hansa. That would have been on the record if we’d been able to do it earlier but we really wanted our record to come out before Christmas. We thought back in the old days people would put out an album with eight songs and we thought it was a really strong record so we thought we’d just do it. The December session will be released as a single next year

Did they provide backing vocals or did they provide other musical accompaniments too?

It was just vocals but we had thought about drums and percussion too but with over 100 people we thought it’d just be too much so we thought it’d be better if everybody just sang. At Portland we had people sing the actual string parts which was Rob Daiker’s idea. It turned out great.

How did you end up choosing these places and studios?

The size of the studio was a big thing. We needed a studio big enough for an orchestra that could fit 100-150 people, chairs and the band in the round. I really wanted to record in studios that were well known but the only one we were able to do that in was The Power Station in New York and so many great Rock records in the ’70s were recorded there. The one in Berlin is going to be great too as that’s where Depeche Mode and Bowie recorded before the Berlin Wall came down and it was about 50 metres from the Wall. So, Rock bands would record there looking at the Berlin Wall. We’re really looking forward to recording there.

Had you already laid down your parts or were you doing this with your fans watching the recording process in action?

They watched us record everything from the drums, bass track, guitars then I did my lead vocals and we’d add the backing vocals at the end. Then we’d bring out the old track that was recorded at the sound check before the audience showed up and they would sing background vocals. Then we’d have a dinner break where we served up the food except in New York where we had pizza and then we did an unplugged jam session talking requests from the audience. It was a lot of fun.

Pink Floyd were famously sued by some of the kids’ choir who performed on Another Brick In The Wall. Did you have to put any legals in place to cover yourselves or did you just go for it?

We just told everybody they’d sing background vocals and I don’t think there were any releases to sign or anything. Everybody is so supportive of DRN trying to get back into the music world that I don’t think anyone was there that’d try and tear us down. Let’s be honest, Another Brick In The World made millions and millions of dollars and I’m pretty sure our record won’t make millions but if it does I’ll happily pay the backing singers

Is this something you’d like to do again in the future?

Absolutely, we had such a great time. We’d like to do one in Memphis or Nashville, in Australia and possibly Japan. There’s quite a few places where we’d like to do this, maybe Jerusalem and my home of Prague as well.

What happened if someone had such an out of tune voice that it stood out over everyone else or did that problem not arise?

I think anyone can sing in tune but if they sing on their own there’s a fear factor that can come in and stop them singing in tune but when they’re in a group of 100 people all singing the same note then everybody can sing in tune. We didn’t hear anybody out of tune on any of the tracks

What about the new songs. When did you write those?

Two of them are co-writes with Brion James and he sent some ideas which I loved. I worked on them and added vocals and two of them were written when I work on music after my son goes to bed at 11:00pm and I go into the studio until about 3:00am most nights so they came from that. We wrote eight or nine pieces for this record and the four that made it are the ones that sounded like they belonged together on a record.

It’s amazing how new versions of 4 songs written in the 80s and 90s can sound so contemporary when placed next to newly recorded songs. They don’t sound like they were written over 25 years apart.

I think with Origins what we are hoping to say is that where we come from is not too far to where we’re heading and everything comes full circle and I think this record did do that.

Once you finish up in the UK on 25th November in Manchester, is that you done for the year?

I have a few solo shows to do and then on the 29th December we’re doing the session in Berlin and we finish the year with a big New Year’s Eve blowout with Dan Reed Network in Prague in Palac Akropolis. We’ll be doing that with a great artist called Justin Lavash and also Tram 69 who are a local band from Prague who do the cool covers that we all love. After we do our set there’s DJ’s going on through the night. It’ll be a fun night.

What are your plans going into 2019?

I’ll be doing a road trip in America in April and May with my family. We’re talking about doing some Network 30th anniversary of Slam shows and most of next year will be spent recording a new album with Danny Vaughn, a Snake Oil and Harmony record. There will be one cover on that but the rest will be original songs. We have four songs in now and we need another six before we go in and record in Prague. We’ll also be writing for the next Network record which will be out in 2020. So next year will be writing time, recording time and family time.

Dan Reed Network’s new album Origins is released by Zero One Entertainment on Friday 23 November. Their UK tour starts Wednesday 7 November with special guests Mason Hill and Hollowstar. Album and UK tour info: danreed-network.com


  • Mick Burgess

    Mick is a reviewer and photographer here at Metal Express Radio, based in the North-East of England. He first fell in love with music after hearing Jeff Wayne's spectacular The War of the Worlds in the cold winter of 1978. Then in the summer of '79 he discovered a copy of Kiss Alive II amongst his sister’s record collection, which literally blew him away! He then quickly found Van Halen I and Rainbow's Down To Earth, and he was well on the way to being rescued from Top 40 radio hell!   Over the ensuing years, he's enjoyed the Classic Rock music of Rush, Blue Oyster Cult, and Deep Purple; the AOR of Journey and Foreigner; the Pomp of Styx and Kansas; the Progressive Metal of Dream Theater, Queensrÿche, and Symphony X; the Goth Metal of Nightwish, Within Temptation, and Epica, and a whole host of other great bands that are too numerous to mention. When he's not listening to music, he watches Sunderland lose more football (soccer) matches than they win, and occasionally, if he has to, he goes to work as a property lawyer.

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