Heavy Load

Dan Reed

Classic Rock - - Contents - In­ter­view: Dave Ling

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.’

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