The singer-songwriter on having a good work ethic, bad business decisions, spirituality and reactivating the Network.
Born in Portland, Oregon on February 17, 1963, Dan Reed formed the funk-infused Dan Reed Network in 1984. Over the following decade the group released three albums and supported the Rolling Stones, David Bowie, Def Leppard and Bon Jovi, among others.
The Network went on hiatus in 1993, after which Reed pursued a mainly solo career. It was reactivated in 2012. Their new studio album, Origins, is their fifth.
Did you have a happy childhood?
Very much so. Growing up on a farm in South Dakota gave me a crazily driven work ethic, but I was surrounded by nature, which was very peaceful. It encouraged me to use my imagination.
Were you a good student?
I was a troublemaker. Being adopted, I felt like I didn’t belong. I tried to be the class clown. My first school was a catholic one and the nuns were mean, so I created havoc in the classroom.
Has being of Hawaiian, Sioux and German descent affected your personality?
Yeah. In South Dakota I was called a ‘wagon burner’ for being part Native American.
It was my first experience of racism. That alienation has stayed with me all these years. To this day the only place I feel normal is on stage.
What was your worst career decision? Becoming a nightclub owner. After the band broke up that seemed exciting but I wasn’t cut out for the daily, monthly, yearly lifestyle it demanded, and I drowned out the stress with drugs and alcohol.
What was your biggest waste of money?
I started a record label right before the Network split up. But, just like being a club owner, that meant sitting behind a desk, and I soon learned that it wasn’t in my personality.
Is there something that Dan Reed can do that no one else can?
I can recite the tenets of Buddhism while smoking crack. But my caveat is that I would never do that any more.
Which are the best and worst drugs you’ve taken?
The best high I ever had was at a rave in Seattle. I mixed ecstasy, two lines of coke, liquid acid, some ’shroom and a line of special K [ketamine]. For two days I was out in the forest and hugging trees. The worst is crack: thirty seconds of your five senses swirling into a tunnel and feeling joyous, followed by eight hours of jonesing and looking again for those thirty seconds. It’s insidious. What’s the biggest misconception about you?
One is that I’m very spiritual. The other is that I’m not spiritual at all; that I’m all about drinking and women. I’m right down the centre. I’m a human being that struggles with the positive and negatives of this life.
Do you believe in God and/or the devil?
No. There is positive and negative energy in the universe. The same thing that makes atoms work – protons and electrons – is what determines romance, or people having sex for the night; everything is based upon that push and pull.
What advice would the fifty-five-yearold Dan Reed offer his twenty-five-yearold self?
That he should party earlier in life, rather than later on. And to focus less on his ego; I was so dedicated on becoming a rock star in my youth that I forgot to have a good time.
How much negotiation was required in order to reunite the Network on New Year’s Eve 2012?
All it took was one email to Brion James [guitarist] – our first conversation in about twenty years. He replied within an hour. I expected it to say “Screw you”, but he said it was the right time in his life to get back on stage. Short and sweet.
In 1993 you interviewed the Dalai Lama for Spin magazine. How did that impact upon your life?
It affected me in so many ways, and ultimately it led me back to making music again. I was moved by the Dalai Lama’s humility; one minute he’d tell you something insightful, and the next he was like a kid that knew nothing. I hope that it affected everything I do now.
A quarter of a century later, during which you spent five months living in a monastery in India, would his holiness approve of the man you are?
He seemed to have a great sense of humour, so yeah, I think he would [laughs].
Do you have a grasp of the meaning of life?
Many religious doctrines believe in some kind of reckoning by Mohammed or Jesus – teaching us that the earth will be cleansed by fire. To me it’s about taking those lessons contained in the religious books and teaching them in schools so that we can actually learn how to get along with each other. Let’s tear walls down instead of putting them up.
Origins is issued via Zero One Entertainment on November 23. AUK tour commences on November 7.
“I was called a ‘wagon burner’ for being part Native American.’