1 Kerrang Nu-Metal special - Disturbed on Sat 13 Nov 2010, 18:23
Their singer, David Draiman, has for many years been known as "mad" Davey- much to his annoyance- in certain sections of the media. Big, bald and broad, he has been called egotistical,stupid and arrogant by journalists. He has been called self-centred,thoughtless and ridiculous. In one album review he was once most damningly of all,compared to that other hero of the anti-hirsute: Genesis drummer Phil Collins.
His bands music,meanwhile has hardly fared better. Critics say it's overblown,obvious and obnoxious, awful appalling and affected, cynical, simple and soulless. these are some of the kinder words that have been attached to the sounds disturbed make.
To say they are a band who divide opinion is much the same as stating the pope's religion or commenting on the toilet habits of bears : their audience love them ; journalists hate them. Occasionally, perhaps as they pause at a red light in their fast cars, or gaze down from the window of their large houses, they might care about this. Four about a second. Because Disturbed have made it very clear they don't really worry an awful amount about the opinions of critics. which is just as well, really.
David Draiman was not an easy child. Then again, as he tells it, he didn't have an easy child hood either. He was born in New York to a jewish family who moved to Chicago when the singer was three. At school, he took religion seriously though his parents were less devout> He says he tried to draw his mother and father more in line with his was of thinking.
Aged 10, his father was sent to jail. David has claimed it was for a crime he didn't commit. The US authorities were less convinced, and Draiman Snr was put away for two and a half years after a case involving mail fraud.The singer described the period as "one of the two most tumultuous times of my life....ultimately, when the United States authorities decides they want to fuck you, they will, and they took my father away from me." When the singers father was released, it seemed he was a different man. The Singer says his dad had " a sort of religious awakening in prison". He added " my father thought he was being punished by god for not being observant or religious enough." It was clearly a difficult moment.
David was sent away to boarding school- a decision to which he objected. So he set about causing as much trouble as he could. He was expelled five times. "They sent me away to boarding school against my will, hoping that in some weird way- since all the other children were without parents as well- id feel somewhat equal", he said. "I became very,very resentful and did everything i could to get myself thrown out. I would immerse myself in things that were completely against the grain and they took their toll over time".
At 16, his then girlfriend committed suicide, an event that he would come to write about in the future. I would take him, he said, 10 years to come to terms with it.
Meanwhile, he had been beginning to get into music. He had already sung in church choirs- in fact he had studied to be a cantor, the lead singer. But then he started to listen to punk bands and everything changed. " The rebellion and purity of punk appealed to me," he said. " The fact that it was forbidden,against the grain,immoral and deliciously taboo." After High school, he travelled to Europe, bumming around London and Amsterdam, before returning to college to take a degree in political science, philosophy and business management which would land him a job working for a hospital. While there, he answered an advert in the Illinois entertainer posted by three metallers from the south side of town looking for a singer. When he met guitarist Dan Donegan, drummer Mike Wengren and bassist Stev "fuzz" Kmak, it didn't go well initially, "he was wearing sandals and shorts", said Dan. " he looked like a typical northsider." But they were impressed he wanted to sing his own material,not covers, and that was enough.
When Disturbed's debut, The Sickness, was released in 2000, it coincided with nu-metal hitting mid-season form. Korn had paved the way, Slipknot upped the ante, and Linkin Park were about to raise the commercial bar. Into this world slipped Disturbed's remarkable slick debut. With it,came David's image as a crazy lunatic. There was those who claimed that, perhaps, he was hamming it up a little bit too much for it to be convincing.Live, he would be rolled onto the stage in a Hannibal lecter outfit- either orange prison grab or straightjacket- and then either prented to be fried on mock electric chair,or break his way out of a cage. He Seemed offended when this act wasn't taken seriously. "We're not shock rock," he told Kerrang!, frustrated. "we're not an Alice Cooper band and it's not about blood,gore and guts. It's our way of telling people that when you're unlike everyone else, people look at you like you're different : you're sick, you're disturbed."
So then people started taken him seriously: they called him mad. And that really annoyed him. "Im sorry that those journalists and your magazine[kerrang! in particular drew his ire] may not respect where i'm coming from, or that they feel that it make them better writers to print those things" he fumed. But he didn't really help himself. His interviews were peppered with nonsensical comments and onstage he would act "crazy", while his vocals were riddled with barking and grunting. Sometimes, it seemed, he was trying just a little bit hard. "When you act or think differently, people view you as being sick or disturbed and try to wipe you out" he countered. "They try to keep you locked away so you can't affect or infect anyone else." His point about being locked up for the good of others would have carried more weight,perhaps had he not been in a band playing to thousands of people a night.
Two years later, in 2002, Disturbed were a big deal in America but less so in the Uk. Support slots with Danzig and two Ozzfests had earned them big crowds. David's sense of self had also been expanded. "It's now my job to go up onstage and perform the most fulfilling ritual in all of human existence," was how he saw his role. He was also very happy to indulge in the trappings that came along with such a fulfilling ritual. On tour in the UK, supporting Marilyn Manson, he complained that the headliner had stolen all the girls. "It's weird," he said. "There's this system where the headline band band usually have someone who goes out into the crowd specifically designated to "tag" Women.When i went out into the crowd to go "hunting", if you will, every respectable women had already been tagged".It was this- a combination of horrendous ego, idiotic comments and a desperate desire to be taken seriously - that led, perhaps, to the gales of criticism the band faced.
Their Fans cared very little about what the loudmouth singer said,preffering to listen to the band's music. Believe, Disturbed's second album, was a lyrical skim through the puddle of David's soul,yet went straight into the Americans album charts at number one. The Draiman ego went, of course into overdrive.Believe was g less than a religious experience,in his view.He, meanwhile, was more priest- or, to give him full credit,God-than singer."[Believe] is something that deals with the grandiose and grander things in it's themes," he proclaimed,erm,grandly. "The sheer musical vibe of the songs commands respect. Music of this grandeur and magnitude requires that i be that sort of frontman."
As Disturbed toured this grand opus of nu-metal riffs and portentous words, cracks began to appear in their facade. Drummer Mike admitted he was drinking to much, then their bassist Steve was asked to leave because of personal clashes. David had also waded into the peer-to-peer file sharing debate. As internet album sharing was just starting to become an issue that was scaring the world's record companies, the singer made a surprising stand in favour of the fans guilty of downloading music illegally. "I think that labels are foolish in not using the internet, instead of being afraid of it," hen told Metal Edge in 2003. "Labels, for the most, are the reason for their own demise. They're just stuck in this old way of thinking. Instead of spending all this money litigating against kids who are the people they are trying to sell things to in the first place, they have to learn how to effectivly use the internet."
For the first time in a long time while, he seemed to be nearing something resembling sense.By the time Disturbed went into the studio to make their third record,though,he was back to old davey again. This time, he turned his intellect towards the big issues of the day: war and politics, throwing his crafted opinions into the debate, George W.Bush would no doubt have withered under the lashing he received at David's hands, had he heard the album. In another leap of the imagination,big business was likened to the Nazis. The major record label to which Disturbed were-and still are -signed was perhaps the big business it was okay to like. Ten Thousand Fists,on it's release in 2005, was another Disturbed record that would go straight into the US charts at number one, eventually selling 2.5 million copies. It was again a commercial success,despite the frequent reviews that agreed with the 1-k rating in kerrang! that judged it to be "enervating,soul-crushing stuff" That the band chose to cover Genesis' Land Of Confusion lead to further spluttering: " The Penny drops. The bald head. The overwrought nasal vocals. The pomposity. The Slappable face.Yes, "Mad" Davey Draiman is slowly morphing into Phil Collins, and if that doesn't put you off then you deserve everything you get."
Disturbed's next two records would not deviate from their template. By 2010,they had a formula that had already proved successful: slick guitars, nailed down rhythm, huge melodies and big choruses. It was not rocket science but credit ought,perhaps, to be given to the band for maintaining their career for so long. Most of their nu-metal contemporaries had,by the time of Disturbed's 2010 record Asylum, either had given up, moved on or reformed, Limp Bizkit-style, as a nostalgia act. 2008's Indestructible allowed David to move into more personal territory,on one song detailing the suicide of his young girlfriend. Less traumatically he also writes about how his car and motorbike were damaged by fire. The Blaze would begin what the singer believes is a run of bad luck that has affected him ever since. He calls it "The Curse". Asylum would examine that,wading unflinchingly into an investigation of why his business partner had let him down,why his girlfriend left him and why his dog died, Ever unafraid of tackling the big stuff, there was even room for a song about why David's replacement dog also died.
But both Indestructible and Asylum went straight to the top of the US charts- just like every Disturbed record they have made bar their debut. The only other rock bands to have managed for consecutive number ones are The Dave Matthews Band and Metallica, which is halfway good company to be keeping.And Disturbed no longer really are that they were nu-metal's whipping boys. They no longer really mind that, critically,they are and always were a bit of a joke. Eleven million album sales have seen to that