David Draiman of Device and Disturbed Meets Aaron Nordstrom of Gemini Syndrome
Wed, 27 Mar 2013 11:19:27
Device—the new industrial hard rock project from Disturbed frontman David Draiman—is gearing up not only to release its self-titled debut album April 9, but also for the group's very first show.
It's a monumental moment not only for the song but for rock music in general. In order to bring the band's music to life on stage for this inaugural run, Device has chosen the perfect tour lineup. They'll be accompanied by Florida mainstays Nonpoint and intriguing Los Angeles heavy alternative quintet Gemini Syndrome.
Gemini Syndrome is readying its major label debut, and they've unleashed one of the most infectious and incendiary singles of 2013, "Pleasure & Pain". They've got all the makings of the next massive rock band. Singer Aaron Nordstrom is also a longtime fan of Mr. Draiman's catalog…
So, ARTISTdirect.com editor in chief Rick Florino sat down with David Draiman of Device and Disturbed and Aaron Nordstrom of Gemini Syndrome for an exclusive interview about the tour, how they discovered music, and so much more.
Have you two gentlemen met before?
Aaron Nordstrom: One time very briefly a few years back…
David Draiman: He remembers better than me [Laughs].
Aaron Nordstrom: When I say "briefly", I mean very briefly. We met at the Pearl Room for a Hellyeah show.
David Draiman: Wow, that was a long time ago.
What are your feelings going into this tour?
David Draiman: I think the whole package is a strong one. I'm happy to go out with all of these guys. I think we complement one another. It's going to make for an action-packed evening for the kids [Laughs].
Aaron Nordstrom: Absolutely, I think every band is unique but similar at the same time. That's always a good thing. You don't want to see the same band four times in a row on the same evening.
David Draiman: Straight up! There's some good variety, and everybody has got their own identity.
This music is coming back to the forefront, and the movement will be led by bands who veer off into their own sound.
David Draiman: As per normal modus operandi for any entity of ours, I think we're going to be focused on us. We keep our eyes on the prize and not pay too much attention to what anybody else is doing. Simply, we're going to do what feels right for us. This package is strong, complementary, and people are going to dig this from beginning to end.
How did you both discover music?
Aaron Nordstrom: I started as a kid. My mom was a singer. She sings jazz, big band, and gospel. She got me singing really young. I started playing classical and jazz piano when I was a little kid. Around junior high, I got into the alternative scene like The Smashing Pumpkins, Soundgarden, and those kinds of bands. That led into other Chicago bands like Disturbed and Stabbing Westward. Then, I got into Pantera. I began playing rock and metal at that point. That was when I started playing live. Here we are.
David Draiman: I snuck out of the house on a Friday night, which was the Sabbath in my Orthodox Jewish household, to jump on an "L" train to head downtown to the Belmont and Clark area. I had a little cup of coffee and met my boys at the Dunkin' Donuts. Then, I walked down Clark to the Cabaret Metro. Some punk rock cover band was playing that I didn't know. It was the first concert I ever went to. We went in there. It was dark, smelly, sweaty, and hot. There was energy everywhere. They weren't the best band in the world, but they were full of energy and electric. It was that night when I fell in love with the live experience. After that night, I was like, "I'm done! There's nothing else I want more than to be that guy up there making that crowd go off the way they do".
Are you both from Chicago?
Aaron Nordstrom: Yes!
David Draiman: Where in Chicago are you from?
Aaron Nordstrom: I spent most of my time in Aurora, but I lived on the North Side for a couple of years in the Mayfair area.
David Draiman: Mikey [Wengren] used to have a house in Aurora. I was a Bucktown Wicker Park boy for most of my adult life. I grew up in West Rogers Park—way North Side. I had no idea we came from the same area. It's cool.
Aaron Nordstrom: I'll tell you this. Somewhere in my possession, I still have the original Down with the Sickness cassette before you were even signed.
David Draiman: The demo?
Aaron Nordstrom: Yeah, man! I remember when you guys signed, Q101 was blasting about it, "Hometown boys Disturbed made it!" I was a kid.
David Draiman: Hold on to that demo dude because I don't even have any left.
Aaron Nordstrom: I've got it somewhere!
David Draiman: That'll be a good one to hold on to [Laughs].
Do you remember the first time you heard each other's bands?
David Draiman: We must've heard "Pleasure & Pain" probably a hundred times, while I was making the Trivium record. Every time we'd go out to eat or leave the studio, we'd turn on Octane, and they were playing your song! That's how you ended up coming up in discussion when we talked about tour possibilities. I dug the single. I listened to a couple more of your tunes, and I was like, "Hell yeah! Let's make this happen".
Aaron Nordstrom: I remember Disturbed being played on Q101. Before you were even signed, they were plugging you guys. There was the signing announcement, and then you blew up. As far as Device goes, I remember hearing through the winds you had a new project. However, I didn't get exposed to it until this last tour when the option was brought up to go out supporting you. You had just dropped the "Vilify" video, and we checked that out.
Aaron, what appealed to you about David's music?
Aaron Nordstrom: It was just the power to it. You command audience not only sonically, but lyrically. I always admired that about singers. There's an aggression to it, but there's still a beauty to your voice. You're doing hard and heavy stuff, but it's still melodic and gorgeous. I think that's something a lot of people fail to bridge the gap between.
David Draiman: Thank you very much for those compliments. They're appreciated! Let me tell you. In many cases especially for guys like us and bands like ours, that fusion of melody and aggression is really what can separate a band that ends up selling 50-100 thousand records from a band who has capability of selling a half-million records. It's a question of, "Who do you want to appeal to and who do you identify with?" I'd like to be able to reach as many people as possible. There are still certain things in the aspect of my own personal taste though. I can't seem to wrestle myself away from music that has driving guitar in it as evident by this next project [Laughs]. There are certain aspects of rhythm that I'll never divorce myself from, as far as my vocal delivery is concerned because it's been a part of who I am since even before Disturbed. Disturbed enhanced it by being as groove heavy as they are and helping me get it out. It was always a part of what I did. Certainly, it's a part of Device. There's that embrace of melody, which you guys actually do really well. That single of yours has a huge chorus. That really is the key. It's what takes you to the next level.
Do you view music in visual terms?
Aaron Nordstrom: That's part of our job as the lyricists. Words conjure images. Definitely, it sonically pushes that and makes it relevant, when you're talking about things that matter to you and trying to have some sort of message. The word and the message conjure the visual end.
David Draiman: No doubt, you also try to give some sort of palette for the live setting. I love the way we have the ability to help people imagine many different manifestations of the lyrics written. They may be personal to us and very specific. They may be telling stories. However, they can be personal, individual, and unique to every person who ends up taking ownership of it. That's the amazing thing. There's no limit.
Aaron Nordstrom: It's so true. That's so cool.
Is the live experience the most thrilling aspect of this?
David Draiman: There is nothing that compares to it in all of human experience period. There's no drug. There's no level of sexual exploit [Laughs]. There is nothing that can compare to when you're on fire on stage in front of thousands people and they're feeding you their energy and you're reciprocating it by projecting it back out to them. It's like a symbiotic energy circle. There's nothing in all of creation like it. Of everything I've ever tasted, there's nothing that can compare to the rush of playing live.
Aaron Nordstrom: I have nothing to add to that [Laughs]. That was perfect.
Aaron, is there anything you want to ask David?
David Draiman: Let's put poor Aaron on the spot [Laughs].
Aaron Nordstrom: I'm a big people watcher, and I'm excited to be on the road and see your mannerisms and observe it. Knowing how successful and influential you've been—you're iconic really—to observe you at work is going to be interesting. I want to see how you operate. How does someone who has succeeded at a level like this work? What's your pattern?
David Draiman: I hope we have the opportunity to learn from each other. I'll tell you. Everyone I've ever gone out with has taught me something. There's no question. There's definitely stuff to pass on. Along the course of the tour, there are things will be able to teach one another. It's always good to assemble a bill like this where you have other strong bands who make you feel like you want to be consistently be tested and you have to always prove your metal. That's a good thing. I was never one of the guys who sought out bands I thought weren't a threat. I was always the guy who looked for the biggest threat around [Laughs]. I'd say, "I want you on that stage! I want you to make me feel like I have to bring my A-plus game every single night". It ends up being good for everybody. I appreciate that.
Aaron Nordstrom: I love it. It's not like it's competition. People are motivating you to do better for yourself.
David Draiman: Exactly! It's never competition. It's motivation.
Will you be seeing them on tour?
10 - Mobile, AL - Soul Kitchen *
12 - Ft. Lauderdale, FL - Culture Room *
13 - Orlando, FL - Tinker Field - WJRR Earth Day Birth Day
14 - Ft. Myers, FL - Fort Rock Festival
16 - Destin, FL - Club LA **
17 - Huntsville, AL -Sammy T's **
20 - Tyler, TX - Click's **
21 - Lubbock, TX - Lonestar Amphitheatre - KFMX Show
23 - Dallas, TX - Trees **
25 - Houston, TX - Scout Bar **
26 - Beaumont, TX - The Gig **
28 - Jacksonville, FL - Welcome to Rockville Festival
30 - New Orleans, LA - House of Blues **
1 - Little Rock, AR - Juanitas **
3 - Atlanta, GA -Centerstage *
4 - Rockingham, NC -Carolina Rebellion Festival
* with Gemini Syndrome
** with Gemini Syndrome and Nonpoint
Should these two gentlemen collaborate? You tell us!
See our interview with David Draiman about Device here!
See our latest interview Gemini Syndrome here!