From the Archive: David Draiman and Don Donegan of Disturbed Discuss their 2002 Album, 'Believe'
Here's an interview with David Draiman and Don Donegan of Disturbed from the November 2002 issue of Guitar World. To see the complete cover, and all the GW covers from 2002, check out our 2002 GW covers gallery.
“You callous little bitches! Get the fuck up!”
Guitar World has just finished hearing a sneak preview of new Disturbed material at Soundtrack Studios in downtown Manhattan when singer David Draiman, he of the shaved head and stainless-steel goatee, spits out this command in a menacing voice that betrays his otherwise polite, soft-spoken demeanor.
Fortunately, Draiman isn’t addressing the magazine’s editors, or this writer, directly; rather, he’s recounting an Ozzfest war story from the previous summer. During one of the tour’s stops, a couple of concertgoers had the gall to remain seated during Disturbed’s main-stage set -- an offense the singer will absolutely not tolerate.
"I was like, 'Who the hell do you think you are? How dare you sit down right in front of me?'" recounts Draiman. "I said to them, 'Get the fuck out of my front row. Either stand up or get the fuck out!'"
On this day, however, it's readily apparent that there will be no need for one of Draiman's verbal reamings: as the opening strains of "Prayer" pulse through the studio, those present can't help but move their heads and feet to the pummeling barrage of sound. The song, slated to be the leadoff track and first single from Disturbed's new album, Believe (Reprise), explodes from the speakers with a lurching, bottom-heavy groove that's topped off by thick slabs of distorted power chords. It's good stuff, and Draiman and guitarist Dan Donegan, who has joined us in the studio, both know it. The group's main songwriters, they lean back in facing chairs, gleefully playing air guitar, air drums -- air anything -- as the album plays.
And with each new tune it becomes more obvious why the bandmates are so excited: Believe is a major progression over Disturbed's 2000 debut, The Sickness. Draiman uses his attention-grabbing yelps and punctuating screams more sparingly, focusing instead on lush, full- throated singing. And while the dense chording and syncopated rhythms that characterized The Sickness anchor the new songs, the group emphasizes dynamics this time around: jerky, unmelodic verses bloom into soaring, textured choruses, while midtempo, ballady numbers like "Darkness" and "Remember" share space with metal grinders like "Liberate" and "Rise."
“That's our full-on, old-school metal song," says Donegan, grinning like a proud papa as he cues up the latter track, its galloping guitar riff and double-bass drum pattern leading the charge underneath Draiman's raspy vocal. "It just moves. It's such a rush -- total adrenaline. We can't wait to play 'Rise' live. In fact, we can't wait to play any of these new songs live."
That Donegan has his mind on live performance is understandable: Disturbed cut their teeth onstage. Formed in 1996, the group, which also includes bassist Fuzz and drummer/programmer Mike Wengren, honed its chops playing in the seedy bars and clubs of Chicago's South Side. While the decidedly trendier pop-rock and alternative bands snagged all the prime slots at the choice inner-city venues, where they would showcase original material in short, 45-minute sets, the city's unfashionable metal contingent was relegated to the less-prestigious and more thinly populated south suburbs, where bands were often required to play up to three hours each night. Disturbed filled up much of that time playing covers of songs by Black Sabbath, Tool, White Zombie and Marilyn Manson, among others.
"There was absolutely no local metal scene in Chicago when we were coming up," says Donegan. "Heavy music was blacklisted at all of the main clubs. But that just made us hungrier. We felt like we had to force our way in and make people listen. Disturbed became the hardest working band in town."