Funk n' roll gods, and personal faves, Dan Reed Network have been invited to support The Rolling Stones on the European leg of the retirement fund tour. Dan and the band will fly in soon to take up said position and play some shows on their own, while a new, self-produced single will be released to coincide with the shows. How many more excuses do I need to interview the main man?
"The new single is called Stardate 1990 and it's the band's view of what's been going on in the past and up to 1990, and saying now it's the time for people to be a little bit more open minded. Same old Dan Reed Network story, basically raving optimism."
Dan is very up about the nineties, both on a personal level and for his band and the world as a whole. He holds many strong positive beliefs and isn't afraid of expressing them in his music, his appearance, and in interview.
"What's going on in the nineties is we're about honesty and I think that by the time the year 2000 rolls around honesty is gonna reign supreme, and that's good because then we'll be able to solve any problems. I think 1990 was the year I realised life doesn't last forever, and the world doesn't revolve around me and my problems. Ever since you're a kid you're raised to think of yourself, to go out there and get what you can for yourself. Whether you're a star in the music business or a star on Wall Street, you're taught to go out for yourself. I think that, the band think that, and it's time to crack down and start thinking about the future, not just girlfriend troubles. If you get a chance, read the lyrics on the new single. They're some of the strongest words I've ever written."
This heightened social conscience hand in hand with the emotional release that went with the much celebrated hair cut (more of which later) has left DRN in the unusual position of having a huge amount of material for the next record - 42 songs to be precise.
"To be honest, in the past we used to write 15, maybe 20 songs, and that was easy. The songs didn't just flow out, but they were about tour experiences. What happened this year is that the creativity just flowed out of nowhere. A lot of songs express my feelings about the human condition. Not so much about relationships. I used to think that the world revolved around my problems, like anyone does, but now I realise that life and music can be much more valuable than that. I want to leave this planet with a smile on my soul."
To that end the band have been playing some gigs to benefit local charities while recording the new material.
"We put these shows on ourselves. We said hey what does Portland need? We've got the Stones tour and we can use that to draw people to these benefits. We played a show just last weekend for 7000 people in our hometown. We got people to bring down cans of food and stuff for the homeless. It's not like a stroke for us. What we say is, if our music can do that, can help people, then why not do it?"
Obviously one of the most dramatic expressions of this new road that Dan is travelling is the shaved head. I have to be honest, I thought it was a wind up till I saw the pictures, but having spoken to the man I can understand his reasons and admire his guts.
"I didn't shave my head so people would look at me strange. I shaved my head for my own purposes, so I could look at the world differently. I used to look in the mirror before and see this one kind of guy, this rock star type guy, and I didn't think I'd ever exceed those boundaries. I needed to expand and cutting my hair off has enabled me to do that."
What effect has it had on your music?
"When I go up on stage I know that every note, every line I'm singing, has to have more sincerity about it, because I'm not up there playing the pretty boy. I just gotta get up there and rock, play the songs. When we played here in Portland it was great to see 7000 people getting into this band, open minded, with a singer who wasn't fitting the stereotypes, up there rockin' with not one stitch of hair. All these rock bands are getting hair weaves and think that hair is the reason that they're hitting it good. I'm saying, hey man, there's no rules in rock n'roll."
What a line and so true. The energy, danger, and passion that pushes truly great rock n' roll over the edge knows no frontiers.
Has the shave changed people's reaction to you?
"Yeah, it has a little bit. The people that liked our music in the first place just know it's a phase of mine and are gonna roll with me on it. The people who were into the band for the contrived reasons, just because of the image, they've left the band."
But you're better off without them?
The Stones tour goes through Europe and hopefully into Gorby's land of not so glasnost, but it seems unlikely that DRN will be able to make that part of the tour, although Dan looks forward to possible gigs in ever opening Eastern Europe sometime in the future, and has made friends with a Russian musician.
"It's kind of a cool story. I met this guy. His name is Alexander Kaprov. He was with the Bolshoi ballet and they were touring in New York about two and a half years ago. I met him in a stairwell playing guitar at three in the morning. I was talking to him, asking what was going on in Russia with musicians. He said there are so many great musicians and all he wants to do is be in a rock n' roll band. Well, since then, he's left Russia and joined a band in New York. He's playing rock n' roll and he loves it. I still keep in contact with him all the time."
There are no rules in rock n' roll. Dan Reed is one of the most pleasant, positive guys I've had the pleasure to talk to recently. The band will be playing their own shows along with the Stones dates. Do go and see them. They're bearing their souls for rock n' roll.