The Lost Children, Disturbed’s recent compilation of b-sides and miscellaneous tracks, may be the last album we ever hear from the Chicago quartet. They will not participate in a 2012 iteration of the Music As A Weapon tour and according to singer David Draiman, "All I can say is that we’re certainly going away for a long while."
If that was on Dan Donegan
’s mind while undertaking this discussion, it certainly didn’t come out in this discussion. Donegan talked at length about the songs here and walked through the various tracks from The Lost Children in a virtual roadmap of the band’s history beginning with The Sickness
album and carrying through to Asylum
in 2010. He had nothing but mad love for the music he made and it was evident in all of his passionate and illuminating responses.
Whether Disturbed ever regroup remains to be seen. In the meantime, Dan Donegan puts us on a time machine and takes us back to the earliest days of the band in this intimate and sprawling conversation.
UG: If we look at the songs like steppingstones, where did “A Welcome Burden” from The Sickness first lead you?
Dan Donegan: “A Welcome Burden” was one of the earliest tracks that we wrote as a local band. We got David Draiman in ’96 and once we started working with him and trying to figure out what our identity was and just kind of experiment, “A Welcome Burden” was probably the first track I threw a different time signature, an off-timing riff at him to kind of push and him and see if he could write to something like that. That was kind of a little bit of challenging thing; it wasn’t just straight up simple barre chords and sing on top of it. I’ve always been into, I don’t want to say like math rock, but I can respect bands that do it in a great way whether it’s Meshuggah or Mudvayne or bands that are really good at it. So this was maybe my [laughs] attempt at throwing a little bit of a curveball to him and seeing what he could do with it.
What did you think of the final track?
It just came out really cool and it was a cool, vibey song. We were playing it around locally way before we were signed and it was just something that always got a good reaction when we were playing around town. It was a nice transformation to see us go from a band that was playing half and half cover songs and originals to start dropping the cover songs and start doing mostly originals. And to have that transition period of seeing these bars and the places we were playing were wanting our stuff most than covers.
Another song on The Sickness album was “God Of the Mind.” How did that come about?
Really about the same time as “A Welcome Burden.” They were both probably written within the same year and maybe within a half-year of each other. Just tryin’ to do something different—it starts out with the bass riff and the electronics were something we were just starting to get into a little bit more. An experimental thing.
You didn’t set out to incorporate electronics?
At the time when we were playing some covers in our set, we accidentally stumbled across this. I’ve always been into some of the electronics like Nine Inch Nails and some of the more industrial sounds and that and at the time when we were playing around we didn’t have guitar techs or any crew. So when we were playing these shows locally, I hated the fact that between songs I’d be tuning up guitars onstage and we didn’t have anybody to help trade off guitars or nothin’. We wanted to kind of try to take the focus off the noise onstage or the tuning onstage, so we started doing segues with electronics and running loops. It went from that to, “Hey, let’s start putting it into songs.” We did a couple Nine Inch Nail songs or White Zombie songs that had some electronics in them and we started doing those in the set. And then we said, “Hey, why don’t we start experimentin’ and maybe try it in some of the originals and see if it works.” That’s kind of one of the early songs where we experimented with doing some of the electronics.
Andy Wallace who had worked with everyone from Paul McCartney to A Perfect Circle mixed The Sickness. Did he contribute a lot to the sound of that record?
Andy’s great; he’s an icon. The guy has as you said done so many great things from the Beastie Boys to Slayer and everything in-between. A great guy to work with and he knows how to make things sound big. He’s very open to it because here we are this new band and this is a whole new process for us other than doing demos. We’re in the studio with him and me, David and Johnny K our producer were in there for the mixes and he was just very open to it. We let him do this thing because there’s a reason why he is who he is. He would pull up his mix and we’d sit down with him and listen and make a couple suggestions and a couple tweaks of how we’d like to hear things slightly different or just the balance of it maybe. It was great working with him and we did the first two albums with him.
By the time you’ve moved onto Believe, the second album and a song like “Dehumanized,” have you become more adventurous as a band?
A little bit. After touring for almost two years on The Sickness and the success of that album and doing very well for us, we were very excited about getting back into the studio again because all we’d been playing were those songs. Not just for the two years of it being out but since ’96 when we were playing them locally. We weren’t tired of the songs but we wanted more options live. So we were so excited to get back into the studio and “Let’s get some new material going.” We didn’t wanna duplicate The Sickness either. As great of an album as that is and it being our biggest album, we didn’t feel it would be right to try to duplicate it. We’d be selling ourselves out if we were trying to chase that.
You did try to go new places on Believe?
In my opinion, this was the most different album we did. It was a lot more melodic and a little different vibe and for us it served its purpose. Everybody’s gonna have their own favorite album—some people are gonna love one and hate another one. You’re always gonna have your favorite one because it’s gonna put you back to a place in your life and a place in time and whatever made you connect with it in the first place. For us to go in there, we wrote 13 songs and “Dehumanized” was the only song that ended up being a b-side off that. It was just a different vibe and something that we only played live a couple times. We did it on the CD release of the Music As A Weapon DVD that we put out so it was only the live version that was ever released so this is the first time we’re releasing the studio version of it.
Believe debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 chart. This must have told you that fans were responding to this new direction.
Yeah, it was great. We knew that because of the hard touring we did over those years and the great opportunities we had because at that point we’d already done Ozzfest twice and it was a huge steppingstone in our career. We were teamed up with many great bands and after that we supported Stone Temple Pilots and Marilyn Manson and these were big opportunities for us to put us in front of crowds. We delivered and we do what we do and we connected with fans and built that fanbase. It was shocking to us that it came in at number one—we never even thought a band like us would even be on the radio and accepted there to begin with let alone have a number one album. So when that album came out we just knew from all the groundwork that we did and just connecting with the fans and delivering live, that we were building something and the fans are dedicated.
“Hell” from the Ten Thousand Fists album has that cool synth line and the driving guitars. Bassist Steve Kmak has now been replaced by John Moyer and did he bring a different element to this third album?
"I’ve always been into some of the electronics like Nine Inch Nails and some of the more industrial sounds."
That’s why were took our time because there was definitely a bit of a gap there between those two albums [Believe came out in 2002 and Ten Thousand Fists was released in 2005]. We were replacing our original bass player and we weren’t in a rush to do it. We wanted to make sure when we made the change and we found the guy that we were certain that we got the right. We don’t want a revolving door of musicians, of bass players coming in and out of the band. So we wanted to make sure when we made an announcement or when we wrote this material that we were definitely ready for it. It’s the most songs we wrote at one time—we ended up tracking 19 songs and we probably had about 21 or 22 ideas but 19 of ‘em were ready to go.
Do you remember those first sessions with John Moyer?
He came in from Texas and came to stay with me at my house for a bit and we just started jamming. I was showin’ him some of the new riffs so we had a bunch of the new ideas already written musically at least with me and Mike Wengren so a lot of the material was already in the works. We got him in the mix to kind of jam out and just vibe and see how things gelled. It was a little different because I didn’t know how I would feel him being a pick player because Fuzz [Kmak] was a finger player, which I was so used to and I liked. But John kind of brought in a different element. I just think the attack and some of the syncopation and the tightness was a plus for us.
“Monster” has a very cool solo that combines kind of blues and melodic licks. You hadn’t done a lot of solos on the first two albums so were you nervous or excited about laying down this solo?
The guys were always pushing me. The funny this is back when we were playing in the ‘90s even before David, everything had solos in it. We were driven by a lot of the classic metal bands and so I definitely had all these solos in there. As we got David in the band and we were trying to really just get an identity and find ourselves, it wasn’t really anybody’s decision moreso than mine of “Now I have a singer who actually has a voice and an identity to his voice” and I kinda just let that go away for a bit. I was so intrigued by what he brought to the table, I was bringing more like bridges into the songs that were more like riffs that gave him the opportunity to vibe out and do different things musically or vocally.
You wanted to concentrate more on arrangements and highlighting the vocals as opposed to your solos?
Yeah, or “The Game” where there’s this whole gibberish thing and he’s just going over the music with it. I didn’t want to get in the way of that stuff so I wanted to leave that open either musically or vocally to do stuff. I know it’s been misinterpreted that some of the haters have posted that I’m thinking I’m trying to claim bringing back guitar solos [laughs]. Just to make it clear on that, I never claimed to be the one bringing back guitar solos. I said, “I’m bringing back guitar solos in this band. This is something we did in the ‘90s that I got away from because I was taking a different musical path. And I start bringing it back within this band.” Not within the whole genre of metal; there’s always been great lead guitar players out there. Mike and David over the years have always been pushing me to try to bring this back more into our songs and our material.
So “Monster” was calling out for a solo?
“Monster” was one of those songs that was just kind of fun for me to kind of rip and riff through it and jam out a bit. They’ve always encouraged it and it was fun to do. I’m glad we’ve kind of brought it back within our music.
“Two Worlds” was another song with a cool solo with pull-offs and stuff. Where did that song come from?
There was so much material there. Like I said, we had 20-something ideas and 19 that we tracked and that was just one with a little bit different vibe. I remember kind of changing up the verse riff in the studio. I had a slightly different version of it in the studio as we were tracking that and once we had the drums laid down and tracked properly, I kind of changed up that verse riff, which I love. I love playing that part and it’s just something really cool to it. And the solo there’s nothin’ really complicated; it was just kind of melodic. I try to do things in my opinion that’s tasteful to me and I’ve always liked those types of players like Jerry Cantrell from Alice in Chains. It’s not about trying to play as many notes as you can and as fast as you can but it’s just being tasteful with it and doing stuff that’s melodic and is gonna have a hook to it as well. I see a lot of great players out there and there’s a lot of players out there that can shred and kill it. Part of me wishes [laughs] I could play as fast or as good as some of them but I work with what I’m able to do and I like the fact that I’d rather have a solo that people are gonna remember the melody of it. I want the hook in the solo to be as big as the hook of the vocals in the chorus. I always try to go down that path and that way of thinking.
Talking aboaut guitar players, you dedicated Ten Thousands Fists to Dimebag. Was he a friend of yours?
The first time we did Ozzfest in 2000, Pantera was on the bill. We were huge Pantera fans just like anybody in the metal world is. We were so hesitant because this was so new to us and this was our first big tour and we didn’t know where we were allowed to go or who we can look at and all that stuff. You’re a little paranoid because you’re on this big tour and you don’t want to screw up the opportunity you have. Bit I tell you, man, Vinnie and Dime were two of the coolest guys. They had after parties at every show and you come walkin’ down the hall and they’re pullin’ you into their room. You know, “Get in there.” They treated you like you’ve been friends since childhood and that’s how welcoming these guys were. It was great and we had so many great times with them. I mean there are probably so many lost memories because they got us so trashed and crawling back to our tour bus and being late for bus call because we’re just crawling back there from the amount of shots that you do with those guys.
You must have felt horrible when you heard about Dime.
I’ll never forget when we got the news about the shooting. It was actually the first day we had our bassist, John Moyer, at my house and Johnny K our producer came down for our first real day of pre-production with the whole band. We were all at my house and sittin’ in my basement and just about to listen back to some of these ideas for Ten Thousand Fist and then our phone started ringing every minute and the news just was comin’ through. It was a very memorable moment because we were all in shock over it.
“Sickened” was another heavy song with a great wah solo. Why didn’t songs like this, “Monster” and “Two Worlds” make it on the Ten Thousand Fists album?
It’s not that we liked the other songs more—obviously every song is so important to us. That’s why we’ve always referred to them as our children and that’s why we’re calling the CD The Lost Children ‘cause these were the lost ones that never would see the light of day until now. I’m sure every band feels that way about their own material so I don’t want to come off arrogant like every song is great. But to us they are [laughs] and to us we feel strong about them. It’s a tough decision to leave anything off for us but it is a combination of the flow of the album. Do the songs fit in the flow of what we want on this album? And there’s some songs on this Lost Children that we felt strongly about being single contenders. There were guys at the record label that were pushing for certain songs they wanted to be a leadoff single but we said, “No, it’s gonna be a b-side—it’s not even gonna be on the album.” So we kind of had those discussions and it was funny because we’ve always won those battles but it wasn’t for the point of throwing those songs away. It was the point of saying, “Some day these songs will see the light of day.” And that was our whole point behind it. We just figured whether it ends up on a soundtrack somewhere or a sporting event or whatever the case may be, we knew we wanted to hold onto these hoping that we can release them and the fans will get them at some point and hopefully they can like them as much as we do.
Indestructible has songs like “Run” and “Parasite” and this is the first album you produced. What was that like?
It was a pretty easy transition to be honest with ya. The only difference is we didn’t have that buffer of a referee in the middle for us. Johnny K was a great producer and a great friend and we learned a great deal from him. He was the teacher and I was the student. We’ve always worked great under pressure and I’ve always liked the responsibilities of having that weight on our shoulders and knowing it’s up to us to deliver. We felt that we were ready for it. I over-analyze things to begin with and the guys make fun of me because I’ll be like, “Yeah, it’s good but not good enough.” And I’ll sit there when I’m tracking whether it’s guitar overdubs or electronics or whatever, I’ll sit there for hours on the same part over and over just changing something very subtle about it. About the tone or whatever it may be—just little nuances. I geek out like that and probably go overboard but to me I try to be a perfectionist and I know in my head what I want and it’s just me trying to achieve that and search for that. The guys joke around and give me a hard time about that because I’m like that but they respect that too
So you really enjoy producing Disturbed.
It was great to go in there and know that everybody came in there prepared and was nailin’ their parts. It was a great experience. We had Tadpole who was this engineer who had worked on a couple of the albums with us before so we had him come in and engineer Indestructible with us. He was a great person to have in there to kind of push as well.
David Draiman had said he wanted to try and create darker sounds for the Indestructible album. Did you take those comments to heart and try and dial in more ominous sounding guitar tones or anything like that?
No, it’s always hard to say because each time we put out an album we don’t want to say, “Well, this one is darker than the last one” or “It’s heavier than the last one.” Every song is gonna have different vibes and different moments. It really just depends during the creative process of what comes out of us. So, yeah, there are songs that are darker and there are songs that are more melodic. We just try to balance those things out when we’re shaping the album—those staccato vocal styles against some of those big melodic singing moments. We try to make sure there’s a good blend of all those elements that have shaped this band. It just really depends during those creative processes of what we’re doing. We know what we like but we’re not gonna say “This whole album is gonna be dark and it’s gonna be heavier and harder.” It just really depends on that moment when I’m writing a riff and I present it to the guys and what it gets out of him.
You talk about geeking out about sounds and stuff on the records. Do you sit there and continually tweak a riff before you show it to the band? Does it get changed after the band has heard it?
Not much; not really. I’d say 98 percent of the time if not 99 percent of the time, whatever I present to them usually ends up being it. I’m lucky because there’s a good chemistry there. Whatever I’ve thrown at David, he’s been able to write great stuff on top of it. The only thing that changes is maybe the length of something. We might say, “Ah, let’s stretch out this verse a bit” but the riff and the music is pretty much dead on. I have demo versions, basement-tape stuff of first coming up with these ideas and they’re pretty identical to what it ended up being. Just better tones and better performances. There’s that great trust and that great respect within the songwriting that we know once everybody puts their stamp on it it’s gonna be us.
“Old Friend” was a song written for the most recent Asylum album that didn’t make it on the album.
"We never even thought a band like us would even be on the radio and accepted there to begin with let alone have a number one album."
We wrote that really inspired by Dexter; we’re big Dexter fans. A lot of times lyrically it’s usually something personal or some relationship issue that anybody can relate with because we’ve all experienced many ups and downs in relationships. Or whether it’s political issues or world issues or whatever. It’s always been something really personal on that end. “Old Friend” was one of those songs that was inspired by something outside of the band and just the whole concept of how cool this vigilante serial killer is. Are you familiar with him?
I am totally hooked on Dexter.
Oh, I love that show. We’re diehard fans and David was a fan before I was aware of it. He kept on saying, “You’ve got to watch this show Dexter. You gotta see this.” We were hooked and like the first episode I couldn’t get enough. So it was inspired by that and we left it off hoping that maybe we can present it to them and see if they could use it in the show. Like I said we always leave a certain song off with another thought in mind of thinking maybe it could be used in other areas somewhere.
You play another great solo on “Leave It Alone.” It’s really unexpected and takes these twists and turns that have always made your playing really unique.
A lot of it was winging it but we don’t go into the studio until we feel that we’re ready to track these songs. If something magical happens at the time and something creative comes up and changes that then great. We over-analyze things so much and put it under the microscope: every song, every part, every drumbeat, and every kickdrum, snare and guitar note as much as we can beforehand. We don’t go in there to waste time or spend money fuckin’ around in the studio. We’re there to work, to make these songs come from a simple idea to watch them grow into maturity of that full song with everybody’s stamp on it and I love that process. I love having that first initial riff, an idea of feeling, “OK, now I got it to a point where I feel confident of presenting it to the guys.” And then hearing them put their stamp on it and watching it go from that simple one-take demo stage to this finished product of a song, it’s always a great feeling to us. There’s always that nice surprise on the album too and there’s always that song that jumps up a couple levels for us. We go into it like, “This is a really good song” but then it ends up to us being a really great song. And occasionally it always ends up being that track or two that was that nice surprise to us like, “Wow, this ended up turning out better than we thought going in.”
“Mine” had some political overtones?
Yeah, fer sure. It was a nice experimental thing. Sometimes if the well is running dry and I’m not having a creative enough day on the guitar, I can’t force those things out. It just doesn’t happen. Either you’re having a good creative day or you’re not. That was one day I was messin’ around with electronics and it was starting to give me a little bit of this Nine Inch Nails vibe to this whole beginning and I’m a big fan of Trent Reznor. It was just kind of building something up and that inspired the music to follow that. So I’m laying down these electronic parts and David gave me an idea subject matter-wise and I was looking for these kind of political news clips and I start splicing these clips in there over the electronics in the intro. It was just a nice challenge to take a different approach and try something that’s not predictable.
“3” was another political song written for the West Memphis Three?
That came late in the process of Asylum. I had the music written and I really liked what we were doing; it was real ballsy and a driving riff. Actually at the time we weren’t sure if we were even gonna track it because David didn’t have anything melodically or lyrically when we already started tracking the rest of the album. I was really pushing for it. I’m like, “Dude, I really like what we’re doing here musically.” It is a little bit different vibe as well to but it kind of starts off with this pummeling riff and the drums are really driving the part.
So the song wasn’t written specifically for the West Memphis Three?
We just kinda talked a little bit about it as we were in the studio and I mentioned to him, “How familiar are you with the West Memphis Three story?” I know that’s obviously been going on since the early ‘90s and he was aware of the documentary and stuff and obviously you’ve had people like Eddie Vedder and Johnny Depp that were big supporters back in the 90s as well. My wife was a big Pearl Jam fan and she brought the documentary up to me years back and I had watched it in early 2001 or whatever it was. So I was always just trying to be aware of the case and what was going on and it just kind of came back up that these guys might have a shot at a retrial. So it was just coincidence in the timing of it. David went home and started working on the lyrics and the melody for it and just the timing of doing this song we’re like, “You know what? Let’s leave this song off the album and let’s see if we can get the OK from the record label to put it out there and give it away for their defense case.” All the proceeds went to their defense team so we wanted to kind of contribute in that way and just to raise awareness. We’re not sitting there going to the rallies or going to the court cases and that but we wanted to raise awareness of the issues.
They all ended up in prison?
There were three guys and two of ‘em got life in prison and one of ‘em on death row for what? There was no evidence and no proof that they had anything to do with the murders and it just seemed wrong because they were the black sheep of their neighborhood. They lived in the Bible Belt of America and they wore long black trench coats and listened to heavy metal music. So their town was satisfied that there’s not a killer on the loose and it must be these three young boys that did it. It kind of infuriated us as it did most people who were familiar with the case and we felt we wanted to contribute in a way of maybe helping raise a few bucks for them to hopefully give them the opportunity to get a retrial and a fair trial. It was good timing and luckily enough they were able to overturn the case and free ‘em.
“Midlife Crisis” was a Faith No More cover that originally appeared on Covered, A Revolution in Sound album.
It’s funny; I forgot it was even put on that until you just mentioned it. Originally we tracked the song because I’d say in either 2000 or 2001 when we were tourin’ during The Sickness, it came to our attention that somebody was trying to put together a Faith No More tribute album. We were diehard fans and I know mostly me and David grew up being big Faith No More fans. We were so busy touring on The Sickness, we didn’t know if we’d have the opportunity. We had a day off and we said, “Let’s go into the studio and let’s just track the song. We love the song, we love the band and let’s track it. We’ll have it and if it happens hopefully we could be a part of it.” We tracked the song and nothin’ ever came out of it. Somebody put the kibosh on it and it didn’t happen. So we were sitting on the song for years. And then when we were doing Indestructible, when we were in there I listened back to our version of it and I’m like, “Man, David really just did a great job delivering this vocally.” At the time we had our old bass player track on it and stuff and I thought we could better the tones and I thought we could get John re-tracking the bass now that he’s our bassist. We said, “Let’s go in there. Let’s just re-track the music. We’ll keep David’s vocals because he nailed it.” The vibe of it was great so we went into the studio during Indestructible and re-tracks drums, guitars and bass we kind of altered the ending a little bit but we kept all of David’s original vocals. Once again we had to put it in our back pocket and say, OK, now we’ll just hang onto it and see if there’s anything we can do with it.” It was just basically out of respect to a band that we value and we were fans of. So now we have the opportunity to put it out on this album and just kind of give it out there as a tribute to them.
You also covered Judas Priest’s “Living After Midnight.”
We didn’t want to stray off the path as far as changing it anything drastically musically. We were approached on this when we were in the studio recording the Asylum album and it was great timing for us. We were approached saying, “Hey, they’re putting together A Tribute To Judas Priest, the 30-year anniversary of their British Steel album and we know you guys are big fans of Judas Priest and would you want to do a song?”
We thought “Living After Midnight” was maybe something unexpected or unpredictable from us. Once again, another band we respect and value and we didn’t want to change anything off it musically. There’s a couple subtle changes in the rhythm of it or maybe an overdub track but we wanted to stay true to the form out of respect to them. The only thing we changed was the ending of the song and instead of the normal fadeout was somethin’ we just kinda had a little with. I’m kinda rippin’ through a solo at the end and David goes for the big high note at the end, which is somethin’ that we normally don’t do. It was really fun to do something different and it was a little challenging to throw it out there and have fun to it.
Those are obviously two-guitar bands but did you know when you started Disturbed that you wanted to be the only guitar player?
No, actually I did want a second guitar player in the beginning. Just about every local band I was playing in, it was always a two-guitar band. I loved Iron Maiden and Judas Priest and I loved the dueling guitars and the harmonies and stuff they would do. Our intentions in the beginning was to be a five-piece. Before we got David, I had left my previous band that was a five-piece band and I got together with Mike my drummer and Fuzz my original bass player and Fuzz was a guitar player to begin with too. So our plan was for me and him to be guitar players and we’ll find a bass player. At the time we had a singer that we were gonna start jammin’ with. The funny thing is somebody had to play bass so our intention was either me or Fuzz would play bass in the meantime ‘cause we have this singer ready to go and then eventually we’ll find a bass player.
How did you figure out if you or Fuzz would play bass?
Our way of deciding that was in a basketball game—me against him in a one-on-one game and whoever wins gets to play guitar. I tell you, I thank God I ended up beatin’ him!
So you almost ended up as Dan Donegan, bass player?
It could have been. I don’t go down that easy. I would have made up some excuses or somethin’. You know he fouled me on the last shot. I like to think if it was the other way around then maybe we wouldn’t have been Disturbed. But it was kind of funny it happened that way ‘cause that’s what put Fuzz in as a bass player role and as we start jammin’ with the singer, things were just startin’ to sound good and things were coming together. And we’re like, “You know what? We’re kinda happy with the four-piece.” So it was never our intention but it just kind of ended up that way.
You actually worked with Erich Awalt on vocals before finding David Draiman, right?
"I don’t expect us to sit around and be bored and do nothing. I want to come home and I’m starting to do other things musically."
We went through the motions and jammed with another singer for about a year, we knew that we needed somebody that had more of an identity. The guy was good but he just wasn’t what we wanted. We wanted somebody that had his own voice and his own identity and not trying to sound like somebody else. We kind of went through that whole process again of auditioning singers and at this point we were established as just guitar, bass and drums and auditioned a few guys and David finally came out in August of ’96. We finally heard a guy who sounded like himself and he wasn’t trying to sound like Bruce Dickinson or Phil from Pantera or Halford. He had respect and he had all those things in him but it was his voice.
In 2007, Transformers: The Album was released and you had “This Moment” on there. Was it written specifically for the movie?
No, it wasn’t and actually that’s the one song that I was referring to earlier that one of the guys at the record label wanted that to be the lead single off of Ten Thousand Fists and we said, “Actually it’s not gonna be the lead single and it’s not even gonna be on the label. It’s gonna be a b-side for now.” We felt strong about the song and we loved the song but we said because of the vibe of the rest of the album and because we like the song, we want to keep it off the album and hopefully we’ll find that different outlet for it. And sure enough the Transformers thing came up and we were able to put it on there.
There has been a lot of discussion about the future of Disturbed. Where are the band right now?
Our whole career has always been mapping out stuff in front of us. “When do we want to write?” or “When do we want to start thinking about writing?” It’s not automatic like all of a sudden we could just starting being creative and writing. “When do we want to get together and present ideas? When do we want to be in the studio by? Do we want to be out on tour next summer? What do we want to do?” There’s always been a game plan. And this is just the first time because we’ve been at it so hard for so long, it’s the first time that we’re like, “You know what? Let’s step back for a minute. Let’s not live out of a suitcase for a little bit and go home and unwind a little bit and see when that day comes.” And hopefully it will come.
You want to see Disturbed carry on?
I don’t want to be done with this. I still feel that we’re creative and I think there’s a great chemistry when we get together. So we just kind of said, “Let’s just go home.” There were a couple things that were unclear in previous interviews—I know David has said a few things as well--and just speaking for myself, my take on it is, “I’m not stopping to pursue other things. I’m fulfilled with Disturbed.” So if I choose to pursue other things or any of us choose to do other things whether it’s produce other bands or jam with other bands, it’s only because we’re sitting at home and we have free time to do it. I don’t expect us to sit around and be bored and do nothing. I want to come home and I’m starting to do other things musically. I’m back taking piano lessons and I want to jam with some guitar player friends of mine just to riff out and maybe pick up a few things from them. Not necessarily with the intentions of forming a band, it’s just to jam with other guys is gonna push me as a player and hopefully it will develop in other areas that I can lend to Disturbed when that day comes—and if it comes.
You want to see what else is out there?
Personally I’ve been going to a lot of shows and I’ve been going in the crowd. I want to be out in the crowd and I look for that feeling again of being how I was when I was a kid. Being in a crowd and watching those bands pumping me up saying, “I want to be on that stage doing that.” We’ve had the luxury over the years of being that band onstage and we’ve had the luxury of being on the side of the stage watching other bands do it.
You want that feeling back of simply going to a concert before you were in Disturbed?
I’m going in the crowds now. I’ve been going back in the crowds and I’ve been doing it. I’ve been doing it over the years and I just like that feeling of being out there and feeling that and seeing that passion and energy from out front. I’m hoping when that day comes that we can all get on the same page again and get excited and miss this so much. I’m hoping that day comes where we’re all, “Man, I just fuckin’ miss being onstage. I miss performing.” Or “I feel creative and I’ve got some ideas that I want to present to you guys.” It’s really up in the air. We just gotta wait ‘til somebody’s ready to pick up the phone and see if the other guys are ready to respond to it.”
There is obviously a lot of music left in Disturbed and one gets the feeling we’ll be hearing from you again.
I hope so. We’ve built such a great, dedicated fanbase and I want it as much as our fans want it. I need it because this is a drug to us—this is our addiction [laughs]. If you’re away from it long enough, I think we’re gonna go through a relapse and withdrawals and “I need that again.” As much as I get inspired watching other bands at some point it’s gonna be like, “Alright, give me the goddamn guitar and let me get up there and play again!” We’ll see but I don’t know. I’m sure that everybody has got a lot on their plate with their own personal lives. Like I said it’s the first time that we’re not living out of a suitcase. We’re all married now—David just got married last month—and we have kinds and we’re enjoying some time home and doing family life and being a fulltime dad as much as we can now. Just enjoying that part of life and we’ll see. I don’t know if the phone’s gonna ring next year or if it’s gonna ring in five or 10 years. We’ll just see what the vibe is as it goes along.
Interview by Steven Rosen
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