DAN REED NETWORK: Bald Truth (1990)

TO BALDLY GO…

Where no King Of Funk Metal has gone before. That’s DAN REED’s avowed intention, and who would bet against him achieving this otherwordly aim? With a new single ‘Stardate 1990’ on release and with mega Rolling Stones support shows on the horizon, STEVE MASCORD beams down for a hairy car journey with our shaven-headed space ace. KIing ’on to his seat, our man finds the‘Slam’ man recovered from his much-publicised identity crisis and determined to take the ‘Illogical’ rout, to fame ‘n’ fortune….. ..IT’S TRUE. Your life really does flash before your eyes when you’re about to die.Dan Reed’s weatherbeaten sedan is veering all over a highway leading out of Portland, Oregon towards the city’s airport.From the passenger’s seat I can see cars breaking and swerving to avoid sideswiping

Meanwhile a large cement-retaining wall looms ominously to the right. Dan, a bandana shrouding his

once well-maned head, is oblivious to our impending doom.

His latest batch of songs is blaring from the underpowered car stereo, but alas there is no vocal track. So he’s singing to them.

If only he’d drum his knees with one hand instead of two and not leave the steering wheel to find its own way to airport!

I am perilously close to missing my flight to Minneapolis. Dan had been late for our scheduled chat which had begun 40 minutes before… his first face-to-face interview since, er, ‘becoming bald’.

He’s patently still somewhat self-conscious. But when I first catch sight of the supposed King Of Funk Metal, outside

hotel hamburger joint, the lack of locks is less than striking. He’s still the same svelte, lean and passive- looking figure.

.

DAN REED’S hasty decision to murder one of rock’s most celebrated hairdos has won him a huge amount of publicity. He says, however, it was no publicity stunt. Nor, he says, was it a purely physical transformation. Fans attending this month’s Rolling Stones support shows can expect somthing VERY different; Dan’s naked cranium is just the tip of the iceberg.

“If I had done this later, it would have looked like a publicity move,” he says, taking a seat opposite me in the otherwise deserted cafeteria. “I want to do this now before this band is huge.

“Now when I look in the mirror I don’t see that same guy. Now I see just Dan Reed, and I have to look him right in the face. What I say onstage, everything I do now, has to basically come from inside. I can no longer hide behind this drama thing.”

While too much has already been written about Dan’s head, it appears to be inextricably linked to his band’s transformation.

With the world more or less at his feet, Dan decided he no longer wanted to be a rock star. His extended early morning shave was a way of thumbing his nose at the music industry and all conventional notions of commercial success.

The Stones shows will very much determine if Dan Reed is to continue the climb to the top regardless, or simply be reduced to an obscure eccentric who got too weird.

“If we pack out coliseums with us now, with the new music, nothing about the looks… it’ll feel like we finally accomplished something on our own merit,” he announces. “We’re no longer Prince meets Bon Jovi. I’m so tired of that, and we WERE kind of that, Prince meets Bon Jovi.”

.

PORTLAND, OREGON is a progressive metropolis that is picturesque, clean and — in Dan’s words — ‘a bit boring’.

Dan Reed moved here in 1983 from his birthplace, South Dakota. He says Portland’s comparative isolation stopped him becoming too involved in the ‘scene’ that surrounds being in a successful major label rock band. But it’s only now, he explains, that he has learnt to ignore the distractions.

“When we were recording the last LP ‘Slam’ in New York, I was sort of realising life outside of my Portland, Oregon existence,” he said.

“The new songs I’ve been writing are like the best stuff I’ve written, spiritually. Not in a religious, preaching sense, but spiritually in a love for the world sense. It’s something I feel now. Before I was aware of it — like on songs like ‘Slam’. I was aware of it, but I wasn’t living it.”

I tell Dan that it sounds a touch superficial to think a band can be perceived differently, be taken more seriously, just because the frontman has shaved his head. Motioning towards where his hair used to be, Dan says: “I don’t know how to explain it. You have this for five years and you use it in everything, your personal relationships, your business. Sometimes you miss saying whole sentences because you’re sitting there playing with your hair…”

.

CLEARLY, WE have here a man who’s undergone a sizable identity crisis over the last eight months.

Dan is piecing his new outlook on life together for me meticulously, describing his beliefs with an enthusiastic fervour that borders on fanaticism.

There are 24 new songs to choose from for the Stones shows. They are not more funky or more rocky… ‘just more Dan Reed Network’. Dan says the show will be the same.

Less suss and strut and more Dan Reed, the REAL Dan Reed.

“I want to get back into the dramatics of the show. When we used to play clubs, I used to put in a lot of dramatics, not just go out there and go ‘hey hey hey’ and shake it. And there’d be parts of the show where I’d be singing from here.”

Reed, holding his burger in one hand, thumps his chest with a clenched fist.

Management and record company response to the new DRN material has been overwhelmingly positive. By the time Dan and company arrive in Britain all 24 tracks should have been committed to tape and a new single, ‘Stardate 1990’, will be on release.

Work proper on the third album will begin in September.

What Dan has done is a huge gamble, and he sure knows it.

His biggest audience in the world is the hard rock-orientated European audience. They are fresh and eager, making them quite susceptible to being totally turned off by the band’s new direction.

At the very least, he is pushing their loyalties to the limit, although opening for the Rolling Stones could win him a completely new following.

“We are five guys from different races,” Dan says. “The five of us are living proof that it can work for the future, that’s all.

“We’re not drug addicts and were certainly not in this for the chicks. Even if we were in the club days, we’re not any more. So now the values of it are so much stronger and  I hope that people will still be able to get into it and I hope that I didn’t screw up, turn people off.”

AS THE ailing automobile screeches into the car park of the American Airlines terminal leaving a wiggly vapour trail in its wake, Dan Reed turns and says, “It feels a challenge for me for the first time in five years.

“And for the people who don’t dig it, for the people who used to dig the band because of the hair, then I’m kind of glad.

“I kinda wanted to weed out all of the extraneous bullshit anyway.”

Filed for: KERRANG! http://www.kerrang.com

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