Chicago heavy rock band Disturbed has been around for a decade, which makes them, actually, one of the older bands in their scene today. Their new album, Indestructible (not to be confused with the Rancid album of the same name), follows their last disc, Ten Thousand Fists, which was released in 2005. Singer David Draiman and guitarist Dan Donegan discuss the writing process for the record, where this album stands in their discography, and why loud, angry music is actually filled with sunshine.
When did you start writing the new record?
Dan: I think last year, early 2007. We finished touring in 2006 and then we came home and I wanted to get started right away. We got cracking right away and got a bunch of material to throw at David and get him started. It was coming together pretty quick, which was nice.
How long did you spend writing?
Dan: I think we started in February of 2007 and maybe a few months into it we knew we wanted to hit the studio. We knew we had a good body of work and anticipated hitting the studio sometime in the fall.
Did you have a set vision or goal for the record when you started writing?
David: I actually sat down with the guys at a lunch we had together, maybe in January [of 2007]. We had come off the road in December and taken a month off. I said to them ‘Guys it’s been a really rough couple years for me so give me the nastiest, darkest, most brutal, aggressive shit you can to write to.’ That’s kinda where it all started and we’ve gone from there. This record is truly ferocious.
Dan: We talked about some of the elements we liked off the first three CDs and where our heads were at, just trying to get on the same page with what we were trying to achieve out of this. There’s only so much talk you can do about it before you have to just let it get going naturally, but I think everyone was in the same headspace of wanting to go a lot darker with the material, more attitude, more aggression. Just kind of tipping the scale a little more and bringing out a little more of David’s angst.
Do you feel like you were able to achieve those goals?
Dan: For sure. We’re kind of perfectionists and we don’t like to enter the studio unless we feel like we’re going to have a great album. Being 95 percent prepared and just having a little bit of room to go in there and experiment is the way we do it. So we didn’t want to enter the studio unless we felt like what we had was going to top everything we’ve done so far.
Did you do anything drastically differently when making this album in comparison with the previous records?
David: We’ve approached it pretty much the same way as the last album. The difference, I would say, isn’t in approach, it’s in execution. These songs are more complex, more difficult, more challenging, and not as predictable. They are very unique in and of their own right, each of the songs on the record. I’m very pleased with it in its entirety and what it’s saying. Your songs are children to you, they’re close to you. They have their own characteristics and aspects of them that you love, so it’s hard for me to even pick a favorite.
We always try to evolve. That’s the same thing we do every time around. I guess just a little bit of experimenting and breaking out some of the toys and noodling around. And with us self-producing it this time around gave us that luxury of just winging it on the spot. It’s always going to sound like us because of David’s vocals and stylistically the way we play, but we always try to make sure that we’re not getting too redundant or duplicating something we’ve already done.
We’re our own worst critics in that we’re always putting it under a microscope and trying to do something we’ve never done. Different beats, different riffs, anything that will lend something new to it. We’re pretty surprised by this album. The whole body of work. I think it’s the best work we’ve done so far. The attitude of it. There’s more guitar solos on it. Vocally, it’s very interesting and syncopated. Those were the elements we wanted to focus more on. I anticipate the fans being pleased with the outcome.
Do you think writing songs and making records gets easier or harder as you get more experience?
David: It gets more difficult. You have to keep thinking outside box. You have to keep coming up with stuff that’s unlike what you’ve already done yet maintains the identity you’ve created. You have to come up with subject matter you haven’t spoken about before or beaten to death, word phrasings you haven’t used, note progressions you haven’t used, rhythms you haven’t used. Once you’re four records deep that gets pretty tough. It gets more and more and more difficult. But I think the harder it gets the better products we produce. We just want to always put out a good record and for each successive record to be better than the one we just made. In our minds, each one of them have, so all we can hope to do is just surpass what we’ve done thus far.
Are there any misconceptions about Disturbed you think should be cleared up?
David: People think we’re evil, decadent guys. We’re all just pretty normal people. None of us worship Satan, none of us sacrifice virgins. We’re all just normal guys with wives and families and girlfriends.
Do you think it’s a misconception that heavy, aggressive music can’t be positive?
David: The message doesn’t have to be in its literal sense positive. The question is, is what the song does for you positive? Is the music positive? Take the title track from the record. How can something like that not be positive? Something that makes you feel invincible. Something that takes away your fear.
There are plenty of times on the record – or on any of our records – where it deals with dark subject matter, but it’s dealing with it from a sense of catharsis. Getting that out, seeing it, feeling the lyrics, feeling the music and letting yourself be free of it is the positive this music brings. The whole idea and unifying theme is indestructibility. This is an album for people to feel strong. To take away your fear, to take away your inhibition, to make you feel like you can conquer. That runs through the entire record.
Disturbed will be playing at the Nassau Colliseum in Uniondale, NY, on Aug. 3, the Susquehanna Bank Amphitheatre in Camden, NJ, on Aug. 15 and the Darien Lake Performing Arts Center in Darien Center, NY, on Aug. 19. For more visit disturbed1.com or myspace.com/disturbed
Photo Credit: Joey Lawrence