Dan Reed used to live in a buddhist monastery: now he's made his angriest album

Dan Reed Network standing in an abandoned warehouse
(Image credit: Amanda Rose)

Dan Reed Network’s fusion of hard rock with funk lasted three studio albums, including the acclaimed Slam, from their formation in ’84 to the band being put on ice in ’93. 

Frontman and main songwriter Dan Reed dropped off the map, then returned to begin a solo career. He regrouped the Network on New Year’s Eve in 2012. Talking to Classic Rock Reed previews their third post-reunion album, Let’s Hear It For The King, and a UK tour that kicks off in August. 

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Fifteen years ago, while you were living in a Buddhist monastery in India, could you have envisaged being in a recording and gigging reboot of the Dan Reed Network? 

Absolutely not. I thought I was done with music. I was on a quest to learn about the differences between religions. I thought if I left I would become either a monk or a documentary filmmaker. 

Let’s Hear It For The King is the most faithful continuation of the band’s original blueprint

For sure, that was our goal. We wanted to make something that honoured our roots and was perhaps a little more fun than our last couple of records. It rocks a lot harder, and it has a real sense of groove that got lost along the way. 

With lyrics such as: ‘Take the lonely children, put ’em in a cage/Wave whatever holy book makes it okay’ (from Pretty Karma), it’s certainly the angriest

Yes. Back in 2019 when I wrote that I was still on the anti-Trump train. But now, under Biden, the border crisis is even worse. They don’t call it ‘kids in cages’ any more, they’re in Family Detention Centres. It’s the same thing with a different name.

A number of the songs rail against the cult of celebrity – something you must understand from both sides. 

Now, with social media, sadly people are getting famous for doing absolutely nothing. It has opened the door to some talent, but these songs ponder what we’ll do with that celebrity. Is it all about ego, or could it help us to understand each other better? So far the jury’s out. 

As a father do you fear for the future of your young son? 

That’s an interesting question. During lockdown I was concerned about him seeing the world through a screen. I am concerned about the future, but I’d like to think the lessons learned [at home during that time] will help us to progress where mankind needs to go. I don’t know whether we’ll make it, but if I teach him right hopefully he’ll be part of the solution and not the problem. 

Can politically inspired music really cause real change? 

I used to believe so, because John Lennon made me think that way. But he got shot for it. So did JFK and Bobby Kennedy. They all got killed. I really don’t know what it might take to get us all on the same page again. But I do think the arts have a role in giving us some glimmer of hope. 

With so much damage inflicted through covid, will music ever get back on its feet again? 

Like previous viruses and their variants, we will get past it. Big shows will come back. I just hope that the human race becomes a little more appreciative of what it used to have.

Let's Hear It For The King by the Dan Reed Network will be released on June 17. The band's UK tour (opens in new tab) with Reckless Love kicks off on August 30.  

Dave Ling was a co-founder of Classic Rock magazine. His words have appeared in a variety of music publications, including RAW, Kerrang!, Metal Hammer, Prog, Rock Candy, Fireworks and Sounds. Dave’s life was shaped in 1974 through the purchase of a copy of Sweet’s album ‘Sweet Fanny Adams’, along with early gig experiences from Status Quo, Rush, Iron Maiden, AC/DC, Yes and Queen. As a lifelong season ticket holder of Crystal Palace FC, he is completely incapable of uttering the word ‘Br***ton’.