Interview by Adrian Hextall (writer \ reviewer \ photographer – MyGlobalMind Webzine)
Picture Credit : Adrian Hextall (MindHex Media)
Part I of our interview with Dan can be found here:
Our second chapter moves away from the band, the reunion and future albums (New album due out on Frontiers records in May 2016!) and begins to look at the more personal factors that impact Dan, his friends, his family and his country. More importantly, he is passionate about the world and its ongoing survival. Too much for one man to take on you may think… that doesn’t stop him providing valuable insight into what we can all do to better ourselves and more importantly better the lives of others. Reed [sic] on…
As we continue discussing raising children in the world today, it’s worth referring back to the last comment Dan made in Part I. His desire is and always will be to allow his son to follow his passions and not force him down a particular path. As he reminisces about his own childhood, we begin to cover the current state of the country and the college system in the US.
DR: I remember when I was a kid, there was a talk like ”You have to go to college, you have to go to college as a backup plan, you have to have a degree in something”, and more and more I feel like that just put in people in so much debt, especially in America. I don’t know what it’s like over here but four years of college you can be minimum $100 000 in debt as a 21-year old.
MGM: We seem to be mirroring the US system.
DR: That’s because people say they’ll make a lot of money out there, these companies that are doing that. They’re privatising prisons over here now which in America is a huge business so it pays a lot of money to arrest somebody for this much marijuana [makes pinch of salt gesture]. Get them to jail, put them in jail for a year. In some states they’ll put you in jail for a year. This is a just marijuana but it’s like that much marijuana to spend a year in jail, the meals, the blankets, the laundry, it just goes on and on and on but these prisons are making off of a person being thrown into jail for that stuff. And what does that do to the family with disruption and what does it do to the person’s spirit and soul putting them in a cage for a year because he wanted to get stoned? Or be a middleman that sells marijuana to people that want to get stoned. So now it’s legal in a couple of states, three states now and it’s going to be the whole country eventually. Right now the prisons are choked full of people for selling something that grows out of the earth. It’s not like crystal meth or cocaine where it ruins people’s lives. If anything, it’s a medicine, it’s medicinal for so much shit. Yet, the prisons because they’re for profit, the prisons are packed full of people.
MGM: They’re just minor offences. It shouldn’t really be taking up the prison space..
DR: Not at all. And it ruins families. Fathers are in jail, their brothers, sons.
MGM: All for minding your own business and just enjoying some recreational time. Or as you say, it could be for medicinal purposes as well.
DR: But it’s totally okay to get drunk and destroy your liver, crash a car, sleep with the wrong person, get somebody pregnant. I’ve never heard anybody sleep with the wrong person when they’re stoned ever. In fact, it will make you sure that it happens when you’re stoned you’re so aware of what’s right and what’s wrong which is what’s really great about it. Alcohol is the exact opposite. You never worry what’s right or wrong. You get in fight and say the wrong thing and you offend people and it’s a dangerous stuff but yet that’s legal so that’s what’s the contradiction. You won’t go into jail for any of that stuff. You don’t go to jail for drunk driving. You go to jail if you kill somebody drunk driving but you might go to jail for killing somebody not even drunk. That’s murder. Manslaughter, they call it.
MGM: Drunk driving is, there’s a fine for being caught, there’s a fine for the speed awareness costs or whatever it is, that DUI costs that you have to do.
DR: And you’re driving the next day. In America you’re driving the next day. In Sweden they take it away for a year which I think is great because nobody drives drunk up there. Nobody. In fact, I’ve been playing there in the last five years, parties and stuff. Anybody that’s drinking they get a ride home or they’re taking a taxi home or the public transport or they’re walking or bicycling home.
MGM: The Swedish are really rigorous on alcohol, they’re very strict. It’s tremendously expensive. Did you guys play Sweden Rock?
DR: Yeah, I played there twice now the last five years. I played there solo and then I played there with my solo band and then the Network is playing there next year.
MGM: The drinks are tremendously expensive at Sweden Rock .
DR: A beer is £8.
MGM: Whereas in Prague you get the best beers….
DR: For a buck.
MGM: But it doesn’t seem to be abused. It might be cheap but-
DR: I don’t see, no, in Prague it seems pretty chill actually. I think there’s more alcoholism in America than I would say in Prague.
MGM: It’r probably because everybody is told they can’t do it in the US, whereas in Prague everybody is just moderate.
DR: And I think kids start drinking in Czech republic around 15, 14. Start drinking beers and parties and house parties and stuff. In America you’re not supposed to drink until you’re 21 and everybody is getting wasted in high school and stuff and they get high at and make it a sacred or taboo, that alone.
MGM: Remove the taboo and you remove the problem. The media and obsession with drink on TV shows doesn’t help though?
DR: Yeah, and we were talking just last night about, or the night before about how it’s okay to on TV, for example, we were talking about the gun issue in America and why is that so, probably why Americans are so prone to violence in a way. That’s not just the Wild West and killing all the Native Americans and which is a big part of it but it’s really about how we’re leaned on it on TV and movies. It’s okay to rape a woman on TV, slit her throat, chop her to bunch of pieces, bury her in the backyard, it’s okay to do that on TV, to show that on TV but it’s not okay to make love with her on TV. It’s not okay to show her nipple, it’s not okay to show her ass or crotch or a guy’s penis or none of that but it’s okay for a guy to cut off a guy’s penis in a crime show and stuff it in his mouth. That’s okay.
MGM: It’s totally messed up.
DR: It’s just crazy that a guy can kill a whole sorority hall full of women on a TV show. Not a problem. And just do the weirdest, worst things to them. And it’s interesting crime drama. CSI. But it’s not okay to show them making love on TV. And so that screwed us up a lot. We’re really crippled through all like this, but then in Vegas it’s stip clubs you have and hookers in bachelor parties and so we have a whole sex thing on the side but definitely it’s not part of our natural upbringing. It’s a city, it’s over on the other side, it’s dark, twisted, you got to pay for it. It’s dirty.
MGM: There’s still that taboo that says that you shouldn’t do it but if you want to, you can-
DR: Yeah, you can, it’s a guy thing.
MGM: It’s an interesting piece you raise about the gun control. Everybody that you hear, the responses from the NRA and all the people that are still in favor of owning everything, they say ”But it’s in a Second Amendment, we’re entitled to do this” Surely the word ”amendment” to begin with, means that these things could be changed?
DR: I’ve said that to a few of these folks because I post on in blog about the gun stuff quite a bit and there’re always people come up to me and saying full of shit about it but yeah, it can totally be amended. All the arguments for are hollow these days. One is tyranny. If the government gets out of hand we need to raise the militia and fight the government. There was two things, one is the weapons that we can buy ain’t shit against government if it decides to be tyrannical and take over the country in another weird way that it will never do because it’s America but if you’re paranoid and you think they are, the kinds of weapon that you can get aren’t going to be shit. You can defend your family and your home against the government’s army for maybe a few days. Then you’re going to either run out of ammo and they’re just going to drop a bomb on your house and you’re done. So you don’t have bombs, you don’t have helicopters, you don’t have C130 gunships, Black Hawk helicopters, drones, you don’t have any of that stuff. So against the government, that’s a hollow argument. The other one is hunting which that I have no problem with if you’re going to eat the meat. I definitely have a problem with big game animal hunting and stuff, endangered species hunting. But to protect your family, I mean the whole thing with that is if you look at the statistics it’s .00-something% of when a guy actually is able to get to his gun in time to protect his family.
MGM: Because the gun owner is likely to keep the firearm in the safe or something, it’s just like ”Can you just hold on a minute while I grab my gun..”
DR: Yeah, that’s a big problem. Or it’s in an unsafe place and the kids get to it and shoot themselves or shoot their brother or sister. That happens all the time. They say two or three kids a week in America die that way. That’s the stats right now. It was less a couple of years ago but now it’s two to three in between, 2.6 or 2.7 kids a week that get killed by accident. They play with the gun, bam! Like that or they go bang! and shoot their brother or sister. Two or three under 10-year olds a week. And then just last week we had..and then the other thing is they said the only way to stop the bad guy with the gun is a good guy with the gun. It seems like it makes common sense except Americans aren’t that good. They’re not good enough to be trusted as..I think we’re good intentioned but we have really short tempers where we feel entitled to the world we feel we’re the greatest country in the world and we feel we’re the best people in the world. That’s just the way we’ve been trained ever since. And here the politicians say it all the time. ”We are the greatest nation in the world, we’re the most compassionate, we’re the most this, we’re the world police, we’re..”, and so Americans grow up with the sense of entitlement like ”I deserve everything”. And then we don’t get it, none of us do like .00% of Americans are really wealthy and even they aren’t happy, a lot of them. So here you have always frustrated wannabe millionaires all around the place. They think they’re geniuses running around in their pickup trucks with the shotgun or a gun. And so last week you had, this guy got cut off in traffic, he got pissed and pulled up to side and he’s changed words out the windows, he pulled out the gun and shot four shots in a guy’s car, killed their 4-year old daughter. Shot her in the head. Next day, college guys playing dice. ”You’re cheating, you’re cheating” bam! – shot two kids, killed two, one 19, one 18-years old.
MGM: It’s difficult to comprehend when you live in a gun free country.
DR: So you’re going to what, arm all these people? You want the people that get angry at you at standing in line at a night club? People get in fights over nothing over there. Over their girlfriends, over jealousy, ”Did you look at my girlfriend? Did you touch her? Did you cut me off in traffic? Hey, I was here first, me, me, me”, and you want to arm all those people? Are you out of your fucking mind? So the NRA is making a lot of money off of armoring everybody, the gun companies, the ammunition companies, the insurance companies, everybody is making a lot of money but arming a whole country is the biggest mistake that will ever happen in the world.
MGM: Do you think Obama will manage to get anything through with legislation before his term finishes?
DR: Despite what the NRA and the Right Wing gun folks say, he hasn’t tried. He says he is calling for gun laws, it’s year seven, guys. If you think he’s going to pull a fast one like last year, maybe he will but he hasn’t done anything. He hasn’t passed the law, he’s got nothing, he says some really good speeches about we as a nation need to face this epidemic of violence in our country, as whatever we’re going isn’t working, simple truths, but he hasn’t put anything to be voted on. Congress, they tried to pass the assault weapons ban after in New Town when those 26 8-year old, 9-year old kids got slaughtered by a machine gun. They tried to pass a weapons ban on automatic weapons. That didn’t pass. It didn’t get through any part of the government’s house. I doubt it passed in vote, I’d know if we’ve voted on it. They just got presented. So all of these guys are saying Obama is calling for the guns to go, they’re just talking shit because he hasn’t done anything yet.
MGM: He’s just managing to present the right message on the podium but hasn’t done anything to back it up.
DR: Nothing. And he hasn’t even on the podium said any concrete ideas. He just said ”Look, what we’re doing is wrong. I’m sick of getting up here and giving these speeches”. Like anybody would.
MGM: Absolutely. Do you think it’ll change eventually?
DR: I think it’s going to change for the worse.
MGM: It’s going to get worse?
DR: I mean, Donald Trump is leading the pack right now. His numbers are higher than Clinton’s, higher than Bernie Sanders’, higher than all the Republicans. You have Donald Trump, pro-gun, anti-islam, anti-Mexicans, says he’s religious which he’s not, which is lot of what the Republican is all about partly has become lately. They claim they’re about Jesus but they’re so, they’re all about the unborn baby, ”Oh my God, that foetuses, you got to protect the fetus” but fuck feeding the homeless, fuck making peace with their enemies, drop bombs on those towel heads, right? Get yourself a gun, fuck the Mexicans, the ones that are picking our corn and our berries and our fruits and our potatoes out in the fields. Everything that we buy in the store is picked by these immigrants’ hands, we’re about to screw them. We’ll do those jobs, you won’t do those jobs. You’ll last one day out in the field, none of you will do that job. Don’t say Mexicans are taking your jobs because they’re not. They might be taking some construction jobs because they work really hard, those guys are paying their taxes, they earn legally and they’re doing a great job. But don’t blame them for your laziness, don’t blame them because they’re dark skinned. So you’re the podium Jesus, you’re anti-women equal pay, you’re anti-every other immigrant in the world, you’re pro-gun, pro-war, all the things that Jesus was totally about, you know what I mean? And then the Democrat party that wants to take care of the needy, the homeless, the sick, wants health care for everybody, these are the tenants that you would think that Jesus would’ve been about if he was alive and well these days. And yet the Democratic party, the Liberal party is crowned as the great Satan, you’re the evil group of people, we’re the righteous over here.
MGM: That anticipation of what will come with all the Republicans, suggest that people should logically vote Democrat yet it ain’t enough.
DR: You would definitely think that. But the fact that Donald Trump is leading the pack is what convinces me that it’s going to get worse before it gets better.
MGM: Do you think when it comes to the crunch people will see through him and he won’t progress?
DR: I don’t know. I really don’t know. It depends on he gets out in votes. I definitely know that the Liberals, Liberal thinking is prevalent more in America than his close minded thinking. I definitely know that but I think a lot of them are 20, 18, between 25 and 18-years old and they won’t go out and vote. That’s the problem. Because you know out of our whole proletariat I think they say less than 40% vote of the eligible voters. So you’re only getting us a slice of the country that’s voting. And they’re making it more and more harder for minorities to vote in certain districts. You have to have two or three pieces of ID now and some people only have a driver’s licence. They don’t have a passport.
MGM: Which is quite common in the States, isn’t it?
DR: Yeah. And so they’re making us so you need to be middle class enough and have your act together enough to vote. That’s what they’re saying. So they’re basically trying to get rid of the Black and Hispanic vote by claiming it’s about being responsible. Where is that going on? It’s a really difficult situation that’s going on there and I think it’s going to get worse and I hope that Europe doesn’t follow America so close. And that’s the one thing I was really disappointed in Tony Blair, for example, during the Iraq war. Your streets were filled over here in London in protesting with Britain going in. And streets were filled all over the United States, all throughout Europe people protesting Bush and Blair doing that and they did it anyway. And look what we got now. Look at that part of the world now. It’s a fucking mess. You think it was a mess? Saddam Hussain, Assad, Khoumeini, what’s the guy in Libya? Gaddafi. You look at these guys and you can say these are evil dictators etc. but the thing was that they really knew how to run their country with an iron fist and if you’re dealing with Sunni and Shia fractions in any Muslim country where they both want to them manage the country using religion but one thinks the other one is heretics, and the other one thinks the other one is heretics and whoever is in charge of that country, if it’s a Sunni, like Saddam Hussain was, or a Shia, the rest of the country is not going to be happy depending on who is running the country. It’s always going to be that way. It’s even worse than the Republican – Democratic thing. This is blood fight. And if you’re going to run that country, you need to run it with an iron fist or you need to be supermodernized like Dubai. Supermodernized like stores and women can wear shorts if they want, it’s open, we’re open minded over here now. Sunnis and Shias could live there together, they go to mosque and they don’t blow each other up. But in countries that are part radicalized, you have to run them with an iron fist. You can’t run them with democracy.
MGM: As soon as you get the either side a little bit of space and freedom it’s going back into-
DR: Blow each other up. And then you’re seeing it everywhere now. Syria is a mess, Pakistan is a mess, Iraq is a mess, Iran, you could say the fact that Israel doesn’t like Iran and Iran doesn’t like Israel, that’s very true and very real, but Iran for the most part is pretty good. There’s not a lot internal bombings and stuff going on. Saudi Arabia, which I think America should have nothing to do with because they’re the worst with human rights and we claim here all about human rights. Not a lot of stuff is going on there because they just run it with an iron fist. This is the way it’s going to be, you step out line, we kill you, we chop your head off, whip you, chop your hand off etc. until the whole country rises up on its own and gets rid of their dictators. Then it should be managed by them, the people that live there.
MGM: As opposed to somebody else deciding, now it’s time for you to go.
DR: We’re going to arm these 4 000 people in this town, in this neighbourhood that’s fighting against their government for freedom. We’re going to arm you, we’re going to help you out because we don’t like your leader either. Which is exactly what’s going on in Syria. And now Putin is involved in every way, I’ve never been a big fan of his but what he did with this recently, I’m applauding a little bit. He came in, he’s done more damage to ISIS in the last four weeks that we’ve done in two years.
We’ve focussed on more diplomacy. Pay some ransoms, get some people back. Putin is just going to fuck it. ”We’re going to wipe them out”. And I don’t believe in violence, I believe that guys in ISIS are human beings, they’re burning people and chopping their heads off and stuff in the desert, we’re dropping bombs. I don’t see a bit difference in that. You can drop a bomb on a house and blow people’s bodies in little pieces or you go to their house and kidnap the men out of the house and chop the heads off and rape the women, whatever, terrible stuff, dropping a bomb on their house and blowing them all up into pieces, that’s terrible stuff too, it’s equally terrible. One is more terrifying. The bomb is just boom! I guess it’s more like a sudden death. But still terrible. I don’t believe in either one of those things as we resolve things. We’re really nice, we’re the nicest ones. Has anybody asked them? What would it take for you to stop chopping heads off? What would it take for you to stop raiding neighborhoods and taking houses and stealing women and raping them and making them sex slaves and burning people? What is it going to take? What do you want? And they they’d say ”Actually we want to take over the whole world and make them all fucking dead”. Then I’m okay with dropping a bomb on them. If there’s no talking to them. But what if they said ”Actually, we would like all the US military bases out of our country. Number one. Second, we would like to be in charge of our oil revenue and not some multinational corporation, we want to be in charge. Number two”. And what if they did want all this? That’s totally fair. What if they did?
MGM: But nobody knows.
DR: Nobody knows. It would be great. It would be ”You know what? Let’s do that. And if you kill one more person after we do that, we’re dropping a nuke on you because you’re full of shit”. But let’s try. Let’s be fair. Because how long will Texas allow an era of military base to exist in Texas? Never. How long will Americans be cool with drones being flown over by Iranian military? Why is that okay for us to do it? It doesn’t make any sense. Why is it okay that George Washington is on our dollar bill as a super hero, carved in the Black Hills in South Dakota in Mount Rushmore? And he ordered the death of 10, 11 million – it’s debatable – Native Americans. But Hitler who ordered the death of 6 million Jews is the most evil man on the planet. But George Washington is a hero. How does that work out? Who sold us what story? Did Columbus discover America? Wasn’t there 150 different tribes living all throughout America, different states of their own? Then Columbus discovered it because he was from Europe. It doesn’t make any sense. It’s all these kind of things that we need to make peace with and we need to confess to and teach our children to where we don’t cope with all this hypocrisy. You know this place where those kids went in..killed those kids at school, the trenchcoat guys?
DR: The assault at that theater where the guy that dressed up as The Joker.
MGM: At the Batman screening.
DR: Remember? At the Batman screening he killed the bunch of people. They’re literally, it this is the school Columbine, the theater is there, there’s three miles between them there. All of this area of that city makes weapons, missiles. That’s what all of these people do, all of this kids’ parents do. They work in missile factories in that town. That town is particularly known for that.
MGM: So even though what happened to them all is terrible, they’re still going to work on weaponry.
DR: Imagine the kids going ”My dad makes missiles that drop on..”, you know what I mean? So the mentality of desensitizing us to violence like that’s your GDP, that’s your product that your town produces is death. It would just be this undertone of your entire life of what’s okay and what’s not okay.
MGM: That’s going to take a tremendous amount to pull them back from there, isn’t it?
DR: I think there’s very few things we’re going to have more religious strife, we’re going to have more and more environmental stuff that’s going to be challenging us, food, they say that bananas might be extinct in a few years. Like there will be no more bananas because they don’t know how to reproduce the gene, the strand, and the current banana strand is dying off. And they did this already once in the 50s or 40s. The whole banana thing in South America, that was a new strain they crafted off of another genetic DNA strand of banana. And they start a whole new banana back then because that banana was dying off. And now this one is going and they don’t know how to craft more, they don’t know how to do it so they say in the next two to three years it’s going to be less, they predict in 15 years there will be no more bananas, for example. That’s one food source.
MGM: You just expect it to be there, food is one of the biggest things in the US, isn’t it?
DR: And bees, you know how we’re destroying the bees. And they pollinate everything and then you have. Brion James, the guitar player of the Network, he’s all about the bees. That’s all he does. And he makes all kinds of honey products and bee wax products. And that’s all he does, it’s all natural, no additives, no chemicals. He’s the biggest proponent I know in this world that’s trying to make sure we don’t destroy them because once they’re gone, we’re truly fucked.
Yet we spend millions and billions of dollars going to Mars to see if there’s water there and granted it’s interesting and possibly important to where we came from and where we’re going possibly but that same amount of energy and focus could be spent on renewable energies here on Earth to protect the water that we have here. Our focuses are so spread out, building walls because of religious divisions and immigration stuff. I mean, we have Britain First, they’re the group here that’s all about hate..then you also have the neighbourhoods in London that’s all Sharia law where if you walk through there at night with your girlfriend as a non-religious couple and you’re drunk and she’s got a short skirt on, they’ll beat the shit out of you. And that’s in England. I get the Britain First going ”We’ve had enough of that shit”, and the same thing in America, we have the same thing, ”Enough of these Mexicans taking our job”, I get the intention of this but the solution is not beating them up or….
MGM: There’re better ways to do it, the Britain First guys get their message across in photos of war heroes, the Poppies to celebrate the heroes from the forces, things like that in the war and they try to do it cleverly to raise funds to make you think you’re being patriotic, remembering the dead and things like that.
DR: If you just go to the source and we’re on top of stuff growing up, numbers, numerical system comes from Islam. They came up with the first numerical system. So much music and poetry and creativity came from Islam. The greatest poet ever in the world was Khalil Gibran who is from what is now Iran, Pakistan or that area. It was called then, it was a different country then but he was Arab, Muslim, poetry and music, deep thought. There’s so much beauty that came from Islam like thought and we discount that just because there’s a bunch of crazy out there right now. That’s really hard. We got to embrace all the beautiful parts of every culture and slowly weed out the negative parts. But instead of doing that, we’re building walls and saying ”Mine is better than yours”. And that person goes ”Oh yeah? Mine is better than yours”, ”Oh yeah? Well fuck you”, ”Fuck you” and it just escalates and we’re at war now.
MGM: I think that escalates very quickly.
DR: And then there’s all these companies and they make money of dropping the bombs and the we’re building the stuff that they just blew up. And they’re putting politicians in the office.
As we draw to the end of the interview, we’ve expended over an hour and Dan is due on stage with the Network some 90 minutes later. Strong words and food for thought from a well travelled man who has experienced life in many forms and guises over the years. If people take the time to step back, take stock of the real situation and think before acting maybe the world could be a better place.