Mon, 14 Jul 2008 15:21:36
Mayhem is Disturbed's business, and business is good. While talking about co-headlining the inaugural run of the Rockstar Mayhem tour alongside Slipknot, Disturbed vocalist David Draiman exclaims, "That's basically a monster movie bill. It's just huge. We're going to blow the fucker up. This summer tour's going to be one of the best outings we've been on since the first OZZfest. It's going to make a good mark. It's got that vibe and spirit that made OZZfest great before." Disturbed has channeled that spirit of cathartic, calculated aggression into a career defining release, Indestructible. Their fourth album happens to be their angriest, but vocalist David Draiman has never had more clarity. Indestructible is easily one of the year's best hard rock releases, and it sees Disturbed at their finest.
Relaxing at home in Chicago, Draiman took some time to reflect before the tour. He's just made his most personal offering to date, and people have responded. Given Indestructible's very impressive debut (their third consecutive number one), Draiman has a lot to be happy about. But remaining ever-philosophical, he's ruminating hard on the band's path up to this point. He took some time to talk to ARTISTdirect in depth about this and much more.
Indestructible shows an evolution for Disturbed, but at the same time, the album preserves your identity.
I couldn't agree with you more [Laughs]. Hopefully, with each record, a band evolves and continues to learn. We continue to learn as musicians, not only from one another, but through continuous playing and songwriting. You hopefully get better at what you do, the more you do it. We certainly have a better grasp of it than we did when we started out. So it's hopefully getting stronger, and the results should speak for themselves.
Following the band's trajectory, you keep getting more intense with each record. Would you say that's the case?
This one was really tough in that way—in terms of intensity. From a lyrical perspective, Indestructible was especially hard. There are several elements throughout the record that hit home extra hard for me. It wasn't something that I think I was ready to do until now. I think maybe it took Danny's bed of music to bring out my melody and the lyrics in this way. Like they say, everything happens for a reason. There's definitely a strange feeling within all of us on this record. We feel that this is very unique. I know on each record, every band says, "Oh, this is the best record." However, this album has a vibe to it that we haven't felt since The Sickness. We're very excited to start playing these songs live and see how the crowd reacts.
There's a pronounced element of danger on these songs. Musically, "Inside the Fire" feels like it's going to come off the rails.
We've always been able to complement one another. No two elements in Disturbed are ever separate from each other. We always try to be in unison. There are no two rhythms fighting, and we've gotten better at that as time's moved along. We're trying to make it seamless. I've got to say, I couldn't be happier than I am with this record. Mikey's a good example. The drum sound that we've been able to achieve is so distinct, crisp and separate. I never heard Mike's intricate playing like this before, and I've never been this impressed. Maybe it's because I couldn't truly hear everything that was going on before, and now I can [Laughs]. It's blowing me away. All my guys are amazing. Danny has come out of his cocoon. It's time. The guy's showing that he's a guitar player to be reckoned with, not only in terms of speed and precision, but in terms of taste. I think Danny comes up with some of the tastiest solos anywhere. He's the guy that I play air guitar to. I love it. It's always nice to be able to look stage left and know that the guy you'd be most happy to have playing guitar for you is there.
“No two elements in Disturbed are ever separate from each other”
His solos are so memorable.
They're little songs in and of themselves, and they've got their own hooks. I'm a tremendous fan of them. I'm very thankful that he's been confident and willing to unleash it.
What was your lyrical process like? It seems like you've gone deep and are exploring some darker themes than ever.
Anytime I come up with a lyric, it's completely dependent on the vibe of the song. The music has to speak to me. For instance, I keep pulling it out, but "Inside the Fire" is a perfect example. That one, from the get-go, had this dark, brooding feeling to it. It put me somewhere that I hadn't dared to go in many years. The story of that song is actually based on a true-life story, unfortunately. I was unfortunate enough to have a girlfriend of mine commit suicide, and it was because we could no longer be together. It was a complicated situation. She was a user, and she was dependent. She became co-dependent on me, and she got me to use. It was a vicious and horrible time. I had to pull myself away from it. It was destroying me. She ended up destroying herself. It was so dramatic that I started having these thoughts. Don't get me wrong. I don't believe in the devil, Satan or anything like that. I love the mythology of it. I love movies like The Prophecy, The Exorcist and so on. I love the whole mythological creature factor, but I don't really subscribe to those notions. That being said, you sometimes have very strange thoughts flow through your head when you go through depression. One stood out. I remember thinking the personification of the devil was speaking to me over my shoulder as I was standing over the corpse of my dead girlfriend. He was trying to convince me to take my own life, so I could still be with her in Hell. That's the song. The spoken words in the song are the words of the Devil over my shoulder into my ear. The video we just shot for it with Nathan Cox took a hell of a lot out of me. It was really difficult to do. At one point in the video, each individual band member is covered in blood. We really pushed the envelope with this video. We figured this was something very dark, and we should respect that. We shouldn't worry about censorship and the rules. Thank God for the Internet, YouTube and all of the other numerous ways that videos are seen. It's probably going to be seen even more than the "Stupefy" video was—which was probably our most popular. It still won't get any MTV play though [Laughs].
That's so intense. Knowing Nathan's work, it's got to be incredible.
He loves this kind of shit. [Laughs]. Give him darkness, doom and gloom, and he's all about it. When we told him, "No-holds barred," he was like a kid in a candy store.
The record speaks on various levels both politically and more introspectively. The final track, "The Façade," also really has a poignant feel.
Yeah, I've seen that happen so many times. If you caught the meaning behind the song— how many times have you seen girls in abusive relationships that pretend nothing is wrong? I've seen it so many times. I don't really know that anybody spends enough time talking about it. Or, has anybody written a song for them? I don't know. I'm sure there's some sort of girl power anthem that would probably be appropriate for it. However, it sounds so musically dark. Actually, it was on Danny's suggestion that I wrote it. He was like, "I've never seen anyone write about this. Why don't you write about something like that?" I'm like, "Let me see if I can craft something." The music just lent itself to it. We're definitely trying to go into subject matter that is unconventional to say the least.
"Haunted" and "Criminal" really hit as well.
"Haunted" depicts my view of the L.A. landscape [Laughs]. It's my opinion of my experiences there. It's how I view that world as a world that's full of demons and people that feed off the pain and misery of others. I'm so glad I was able to break free of that. It's talking to the one person that still connected me to that world. I'm speaking to her in the song.
You really are telling stories on this album, were you coming from anywhere different in terms of literature or movies?
Not consciously, although I'm sure that every artist is influenced by everything that they take in. It's been a difficult past three years for me. I'm finally beginning to see a little bit of light at the end of the tunnel. The lyrical content of this record is directly affected by the previous three-year period and where it put me. They're not all about the experiences in those three years. Some of them go back even further like "Inside the Fire," as I was 16 when that happened. Some of them refer to modern day times. However, it's about a lot of very chaotic relationships, deceit and betrayal. It's difficult as a musician. It's a big strain on any normalcy of life whether it's maintaining friendships and especially relationships. There are trust issues all the time, shit talking and doubts. It's just constant problems. I've struggled for a long time trying to find someone that could accept what I do and accept the fact that I don't want to be some womanizing maniac anymore. I've had my day. The time is done. I'm looking to have a family, and I'm looking to move on with my life. I turned 35 in March. It's like, "Goddamnit, why won't the world let me change? Why won't they let me be a decent guy?" Everyone is so obsessed with the stereotype and perpetuating that, they refuse to accept the contrary. They're so obsessed with it, and they can't see it any other way. That haunted me for a very long time. Thank God I'm in a situation where things are good with a girl that I've been seeing for a year, and we're living together. For a long time it was not like that. It was very lonely and heartbreaking.
There's so much strain being alone on the road.
Very much so. You come home to an empty house, and there's no warmth or normalcy. There's nothing real about it. It's all just pastimes, as opposed to investments in life. I want to start investing in life.