For modern hard rock and metal, there are not many bands out there that have been as successful, powerful and beloved as Disturbed. Their music is monstrous and everlasting; belonging comfortably both in your headphones and in the biggest arenas spanning the globe. If you have ever had the privilege of attending one of their awesome live shows then you undoubtedly felt the charged energy that the band members share with the audience, and visa versa. And you probably felt said energy from the moment frontman David Draiman says his inspired “My brothers, my sisters, my blood…SPEAK TO ME!!!”
Hailing from Chicago, Illinois, Disturbed started in 1994 with Erich Awalt on vocals and went by the name Brawl. The band also contained Dan Donegan (guitar), Mike Wengren (drums) and Steve “Fuzz” Kmak (bass). Shortly after they recorded their first demo tape in 1996, Awalt quit the band for personal reasons. The band posted ads looking for a new singer and, after twenty auditions in the same month, the ad was answered by Draiman. During the audition the band members where highly impressed by Draiman’s insistence and readiness not to audition with covers, instead wanting to try to write to the band’s original material. When Draiman began to sing, the band members were even more impressed. According to Donegan, “After a minute or two, he just starts banging out these melodies that were huge…I’m playing my guitar and I’m grinning from ear to ear, trying not to give it away that I like this guy, you know, because I don’t want to, you know…[say] ‘Yeah, we’ll give you a call back. We’ll, you know, discuss it.’ But I was so psyched. Chill up my spine. I’m like, ‘There is something here’.” As drummer Mike Wengren commented, “We clicked right off the bat.”
With Draiman in the fold he suggested they change their name to Disturbed. When asked in an interview why he suggested naming the band Disturbed, Draiman said, “It had been a name I have been contemplating for a band for years. It just seems to symbolize everything we were feeling at the time. The level of conformity that people are forced into was disturbing to us and we were just trying to push the envelope and the name just sorta made sense.”
The band recorded a couple demo tapes that contained songs that would be featured on their major-label debut The Sickness (2000). The album featured the lead single “Stupify”, which garnered the band national attention. It also featured singles “Down with the Sickness”, “Voices” and “The Game”, as well as a cover for the Tears for Fears song “Shout” entitled “Shout 2000”. The Sickness peaked at number 29 on the Billboard 200 charts and has been certified quadruple Platinum by the RIAA; not bad for the band’s debut, but greater things awaited them. The sound on The Sickness placed the band in the nu metal genre, due to the use of electronic sampling and what many perceived as nearly rapped lyrics by Draiman. The album would be reissued in 2010, featuring remastered and remixed tracks, as well of the addition of two tracks, “God of the Mind” and “A Welcome Burden”. One tidbit that many fans are not aware is the fact that the track “Stupify” actually lasts 4:07, but skipping to the track or ripping it produces a song that’s 4:33. There’s a 0:26 backwards-played instrumental parts hidden in the pre-gap between tracks 3 and 4 that can only be heard by rewinding / playing straight through. It is a sampling of some of the guitar work heard on the next track, “Down with the Sickness”.
In September 2001, the band released their sophomore effort, Believe. The album debuted in the Billboard 200 at number one, starting a string of four consecutive number one debuts. Believe was a major success, reaching Platinum certification by Janurary 2003. The release included such hit singles as “Prayer” and “Remember”. The album was a departure from The Sickness’ nu metal feel, being molded after a more classic metal sound. The songs on Believe are not the bands heaviest, but they are full of emotion and power that the listener can truly be enraptured by. During the Believe album cycle, Disturbed participated on their second Ozzfest tour, as well as starting their own tour series which they called Music as a Weapon II, borrowed from the tour that supported their previous album. After the Music as a Weapon II, the band fired Fuzz due to personal differences. As documented in their Decade of Disturbed DVD, the rift between the band, especially Draiman, and Fuzz was so poisonous that it got to the point of reconciliation and the band decided to move in without him. They hired John Moyer, formerly of Union Underground.
On September 20, 2005 the band released their third album, Ten Thousand Fists. The album was their second consecutive effort to reach Platinum status in less than four months. Ten Thousand Fists featured hit singles such as the title track, “Stricken” and the Genesis cover “Land of Confusion”. This was Disturbed’s first release to feature guitar solo, something the band members felt was missing in music during that time. In 2006, a European tour was scheduled but had been moved twice due to Draiman having troubles with severe acid reflux, which affected his voice. Draiman commented, “I had been taking Prevacid for about four years and my body built up a resistance to it, to the point where it wasn’t doing anything anymore…I had a night of drinking in London followed by a full day and night of drinking on a day off in Dublin, because what else is there to do in Ireland but drink? That, coupled with a show where I had monitor problems, and I pretty much trashed my voice.” Later that year, Draiman underwent surgery for a deviated septum which affected his voice. It was successful, and ever since then, Draiman has limited his drinking on the road.
Disturbed followed Ten Thousand Fists with their fourth studio release, Indestructible. Released on June 3, 2008, the album took a much darker and heavier theme than their previous efforts. It featured the singles “Indestructible”, “The Night”, “Perfect Insanity” and “Inside the Fire”. The title track is an anthem for American troops over seas; while “Inside the Fire” is a very personal and emotionally charged song. Says Draiman of the song “Inside the Fire”, is about “standing over the body of my girlfriend, who just killed herself, and the Devil is standing over me, whispering in my ear to kill myself,” says Draiman.
In August 2010 the band released their fifth album Asylum. The album took an even darker lyrical stance than Indestructible, as it focused mainly on some of the deepest and darkest emotions and experiences held by Draiman, which is very much evident on the lead single and title track. Another single, “Another Way to Die” speaks on the issue of environmentalism and global warming. The track “My Child” has the subject matter of Draiman’s miscarried child. The album is so personal that the listener may almost feel as if he or she were there to experience these things first hand with Draiman and the band.
Currently, Disturbed is taking a hiatus after a decade of cranking out metal hits and constant touring. They are either enjoying some much deserved time with family and/or pursuing solo projects, most notably Draiman’s side project called Device. But Disturbed and metal fans world wide need not to worry, these metal behemoths have promised that this hiatus is not permanent. Sooner than later, we should all be blessed with the metal renderings that only Disturbed can craft and deliver!