Interview: Disturbed — "This record is our Gladiator"
Fri, 07 May 2010 10:45:21
Anything goes in Disturbed's Asylum.
The band's fifth offering precisely pummels with a dark, direct and deadly delivery. On the title track, acoustic guitars build orchestrally through electronic textures before derailing into psychotic epic thrash. Guitar leads volley through the musical insanity, and that's all only on the album's title track. Disturbed unleash an unbridled ferocity that's simply infectious over the course of the record. David Draiman's never sounded this demonic, especially when flanked by Dan Donegan's calculated riff assault and the combination of Mike Wengren and John Moyer's drum and bass salvo. Asylum might just hold metal fans captive forever. With how progressive at is at points, this is Disturbed's …And Justice for All.
While listening to playbacks of the forthcoming album in a West Hollywood Hotel, David Draiman and Mike Wengren sat down with ARTISTdirect.com editor and Dolor author Rick Florino for an exclusive preview interview about Asylum and so much more…
Did you approach this album with a musically boundless mentality?
David Draiman: I think that we've always had that mindset really. We never set any boundaries for ourselves or limitations, but it's always been about feel. It's always been organic. Danny's always been fantastic at doing what we like to call, "The Danny Donegan Orchestra." He comes up with parts that aren't what you would expect. In one video clip we have, he's playing "For Elis." I tease him. In his other life, Danny's actually Vangelis [Laughs]. He's great at that kind of stuff. As far as the nature of the songs—the ferocity and the rhythmic style—that will never ever dissipate. We're always going to be Disturbed. That will never go away. I'm flattered that you agree with our assessment of the work thus far. To us, this shows a good amount of maturation and expansion of the existing sound without leaving the identifiable nature.
It completely preserves the identity that you established a decade ago while allowing for growth. That's a testament to the identity itself. It's adaptable enough to grow.
David Draiman: We're very fortunate in that respect. A lot of bands struggle for years and years to find a song that is unique and identifiable to themselves. We've really been very blessed since day one that whenever you do hear something from us, you know it's us.
This album feels like a complete cohesive vision already.
David Draiman: I'll tell you right now that I think that our intention at this point is to have "Asylum," the title track, as the opener because of how that intro sets the stage for things. As far as the rest of the order, we're still not sure yet. It could really go in a number of different ways. These songs all have their own respective power and their own respective high points and characteristics to them. It's going to be interesting sequencing it. We're going to need to find a good ebb and flow.
Mike Wengren: It's great to hear your excitement for it after only hearing four songs. We've been married to it for quite awhile. We've been sequestered in the studio, deep involved in the music. So to hear the outside opinion, we know that there's plenty more left. I can't wait for you to hear the rest.
You're telling stories on every song more than ever.
David Draiman: Absolutely! There is always a story to be told. "Asylum," in particular, deals with the memory of a lost loved one driving you to the brink of insanity, yet that memory is a haven for you. It's also a safe place that you go to hide in. So while you're trapped within the memory on a certain level, you don't want to be set free of it.
Well, you've always lyrically examined those unsafe places that are in fact safe in a sense…
David Draiman: Right, we've never been shy about that kind of stuff.
Were you reading a lot while you were writing this record?
David Draiman: No, but I will say that the lyrical writing process this time drove me to the point of insanity at moments. The further along in your career you get—thank God, we've got almost 80 songs in our catalog at this point—you get to a point where you think, "Shit, what the hell other words do I use at this point?" I really had to be extra creative to come up with stuff that didn't sound similar. I left behind a little bit of the cryptic nature of things on this record. Some of these songs are far more direct than the other record's songs have been—much more storytelling. It just felt natural that way. I think it was a direction we needed to go in with this body of work. These songs compelled that type of storytelling.
There were vestiges of that in a song like "Façade" from Indestructible. It's just more fluid here.
David Draiman: Thank you, I appreciate that.
If this record were a movie what would it be?
David Draiman: Gladiator [Laughs]. That's what this record would be. It has all of those aspects in it. It has the moments of loss, the moments of triumph, the struggle, the mysticism—it really has all of those aspects. This record is our Gladiator.
Mike Wengren: We're chomping at the bit to play this stuff alive.
David Draiman: I'm mildly worried about how we're going to pull off certain aspects of these songs, but that's always been a challenge that we've been more than willing to face on every occasion [Laughs]. This is the first record where Mike, Dan and Jon all have lent their voices to songs. There are numerous spots in these songs, whether it's "Asylum" or others, where gang vocals come into perspective that offset what I'm doing. I'm going to need them for it, so it's going to be interesting. There's going to be a lot more interplay between the members of the band, so we are looking forward to it.
The whispering in "Serpentine" is especially haunting, what encouraged that?
David Draiman: It's meant to paint that demonic picture. You're talking about a succubus in the song—a manipulative, unscrupulous demonic woman who utilizes her sexuality to prey on the weaknesses of men. You've got to make it seem like there's something ethereal and frightening there.
You transpose that classic myth there. You give more in terms of themes and lyrical content. There's a lore behind everything you do.
David Draiman: There really needs to be. There has to be a personal connection on a certain level. There has to be passionate emotion tied to personal belief. It has to resonate within, otherwise it won't be conveyed in as powerful of a way as we would like it to be conveyed and you can't pull it off with same level of conviction. That's always been something integral for us.
What are you guys listening to right now?
David Draiman: I'm still listening to the last Alice In Chains record, the new Mudvayne…
Mike Wengren: Volbeat.
David Draiman: Great record…I really like the Halestorm record. I thought they made a solid, front-to-back potential hit after potential hit record. I can see they have a very bright future.
What's the live show going to be like?
David Draiman: We have been having meetings to discuss production elements. We've got to figure out what these ideas are going to cost and what we can and can't do and we can do that'll be consistent. We want have something that grows with us throughout the touring cycle.
Well, you've got an album to finish up too!
Mike Wengren: It's always great to see a song start out as a guitar riff, a drum beat or a melody get bigger step-by-step until it finally reaches a complete song. Something about this record along the way has been a bit of a different journey. Everything's been elevated. This record is different.
David Draiman: Each day is exciting as we're doing these mixes. I'm anticipating today with "Another Way to Die." The song we're doing today is about global warming. It's also potentially one of the contenders. Then there's another contender the next day. When we start having the "first single" discussion, it's not two or three we have in mind, it's five or six.