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:: Spotlight :: Interview with Disturbed

By: Justin Donnelly

When Chicago based heavy rock/nu-metal act Disturbed released their debut full-length effort ‘The Sickness’ in 2000, nobody could have anticipated that the band would connect with audiences worldwide so quickly, and help the album go onto to sell some three million copies within a short two years.

Proving that the overwhelming success of their debut was no fluke, the four-piece act went on to release their sophomore effort ‘Believe’ in 2002, which went straight to number one in the Billboard chart, and eventually went on to sell platinum. Since then, the band have released a third successful album (2005’s ‘Ten Thousand Fists’, which has since sold double platinum), toured the world countless times, and maintained a devoted following that many groups could only wish for.

It’s been a long three years between releases, but Disturbed (who comprise of vocalist David Draiman, guitarist Dan Donegan, bassist John Moyer and drummer Mike Wengren) have finally returned with their fourth album ‘Indestructible’, which is sure to keep the group’s diehard fans satisfied.

While packing for yet another overseas jaunt, I caught up with bassist John Moyer at home in Austin, Texas to discuss the reasons behind the re-recording of two of the band’s older tracks, Disturbed’s touring plans, the dual meaning behind their new album’s title and the group’s return to a heavier sound.

“More than anything, I think it was a conscious decision within the band. We wanted to be more aggressive this time around, and revisit that attitude that was on the first album. We also wanted to make sure that ‘Indestructible’ featured a lot of that staccato/rhythmic vocal pattern that Draiman does so well. We really wanted to bring back a lot of those elements. And I think we’ve achieved that. But at the same time, I think there’s still a lot of the musicianship that you heard on ‘Ten Thousand Fists’, especially when it comes to Donegan’s guitar work. He’s really done some amazing work on this album. We didn’t want to let go of any of the things that we’ve learned along the way. I also think there are a lot of fresh things being offered on the album. I mean we wouldn’t have put this album out there if we thought that it didn’t have something fresh and new to offer. Personally, I think we feel that this is the best album that we’ve made to date. And the people close to me that have heard it truly love it. I think that they feel that it’s indicative of the title.”

While many will assume that the title ‘Indestructible’ refers to the band’s continued success and status in a declining recording scene, Donegan reveals that there’s actually a different meaning behind the moniker.

“I think that when you really listen to the album ‘Indestructible’, I think that’s the feeling you will get. I think people feel powerful when they listen to this music. I think they feel like they can climb any mountain, or break through a brick wall. That was the point we were trying to make. Over the years, we keep hearing from people that meet us backstage or on the street about how they would listen to our music before they engage in any kind of athletic sport. Or sometimes they hear our music before they go into battle, or combat. And those are powerful statements. People are using our music to make themselves the best that they can be. So that was the point of both the album title and the album itself. We really wanted to focus in on that, and give people that kind of music, and help make them feel indestructible. In addition to that, it could also mean a couple of other things. I mean here we are with our fourth album, and we’ve had a lot of success with the other three. There are a lot of brethren that have come and gone. And you know, I think it’s also a little bit of a description about us. I mean we’ve all gone through all sorts of trials and tribulations, and all the ups and downs that go with that. Not just personally either. A lot of that has to do with the music industry and the business side of things as well. It’s changed quite a lot since we first started. I think also that it’s a bit of a description of ourselves in the sense that we’ve been around for a while, and we hope to be around for a while longer as well.”

Boosted by their past success, Disturbed have this time decided to take matters into their own hands, with ‘Indestructible’ the first album the band have self produced.

“I don’t think we would have even attempted to produce this album ourselves had we not had a pretty clear vision of how we make our albums. We’ve done it the same way every time, and we always go to the same studio (Groovemaster Studios in Chicago, Illinois). The process is pretty much the same, and we actually used the same engineer (Tadpole) that helped us out on the ‘Ten Thousand Fists’ album. The only difference this time around is that we were the ones calling all the shots. Every time we’ve gone into the studio, we usually go in with between fourteen to sixteen songs that are ninety to ninety-five percent finished. So we never go in with just a collection of ideas and try and pull it together. We do a lot of pre-production, so most of our time when it comes to writing an album is spent demoing the material before we even go into the studios. We had a very clear idea of what the music was going to sound like this time around, and what the album was going to sound like before we even stepped in and started tracking on day one. So a lot of it is preparation. I think that we felt that it was time for us to go ahead and do that. More than anything, what I think that we learned from going into the studio and self-producing this time around was how to pull the best performances and ideas out of ourselves, as opposed to having somebody else do it. We only had each other to rely on. So I think it’s made the band tighter and stronger. I’m not going to say that there weren’t some tense moments, but I think that we learned to rely on each other. And in doing that, we’ve become a better band.”

But while self-producing has made Disturbed a tighter and stronger band, it has also given the band a sense of discipline as well, with everyone ensuring that one hundred percent was put into the performances on ‘Indestructible’.

“You know what? I think we’ve got to a point where we’re not going to say that we really could have done better on a particular take unless we really mean it. Usually those kinds of statements from the band come from the person who’s actually doing the tracking. If anyone’s going to say that it could have been better, particularly Draiman when he is doing a take, he’s usually the first to voice it. I don’t think we’ve needed anyone else to tell us what we didn’t already know ourselves! (laughs) We know when we can do something better or not! (laughs) So once again, it’s more of a pressure that we put on ourselves than anything else. The process behind this album is pretty much the same as all the rest of the times we’ve made albums, only that we’re the ones calling the shots.”

One of the more interesting aspects of ‘Indestructible’ is the inclusion of ‘Perfect Insanity’, which has appeared in re-recorded form after first appearing on the group’s 2002 DVD ‘M.O.L.’.

“I think that if you listen to both versions, you can definitely tell that we’ve made big improvements within the song. The original version was never officially released on any album. In fact, to my knowledge, the only recording that existed was on the ‘M.O.L.’ DVD, and that wasn’t a very good recording of it. It’s not the only track we’ve revisited. The song called ‘Divide’ was another song that was written before the release of ‘The Sickness’. I guess Donegan went back to the archives and listened to them, and thought that they would actually fit in well with the material that we were putting together for ‘Indestructible’. So we listened to the old versions, retooled them, and I think we made some big improvements over the original versions. They seem to fit in really well with the rest of the new album. I mean, we definitely made some changes to the original versions! (laughs) I think when we were tracking the songs we changed the whole attitude of the songs themselves. In my opinion, it’s like night and day between the old versions and the new ones.”

Armed with a new album in ‘Indestructible’, Moyer assures me that the band is rearing to get out in front of live audiences once again, with plans for the band to spend more time on foreign shores than ever before.

"The band soon leaves for Europe to do all the European festivals. After we’ve done the European festivals, we’ll come back to the US, and we’ll do the Rockstar Mayhem Energy Tour that we’re co-headlining with Slipknot through July/August. That’s going to be our summer US tour. And then after that tour is over, we’ll be coming to Australia. We hope to be down there in the first half of September. Now if those dates change, don’t blame me! (laughs) Right now, that’s what we’re trying to plan out. What we’re trying to do this time around is spend a significant amount of time there as well, playing shows all over the country. And then after that, I think that we’ll be going to Europe again for some follow-up dates. We’re going to try and take over our Music As A Weapon touring package over there. We’ve always done it in the US, and we’re hoping to take that to Europe and to other parts of the world as well. That will pretty much keep us busy right through to Christmas. After that, we’ll keep touring. I’m not sure yet what’s happening in the new year, because a lot of that will depend on how the album is doing. So we’ll just see what happens and go with it. But we feel pretty good about this album, and I think there will be a lot of longevity with ‘Indestructible’. We plan on being out for a while, and more than anything, we plan on doing a lot more international dates. We’ve always done international shows, but this time we’re planning to do more outside of the U.S. So that’s going to be a big focus on this album cycle.”

‘Indestructible’ is out through Warner Music

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