1 Disturbed's 'Asylum' helped to heal their lead singer on Thu 27 Jan 2011, 05:14
The guys in Disturbed have never been masters of mirth when it comes to the music they make. And the group's latest CD, "Asylum," may be one of the darkest, most agitated albums the band has made.
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Disturbed hit paydirt with “The Sickness” in 2000. Four hits ensued, including last summer’s “Asylum.”
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DISTURBED, KORN AND SEVENDUST
WHEN: 7 p.m. Saturday
WHERE: Cumberland County Civic Center, 45 Spring St., Portland
HOW MUCH: $50.50
INFO: (800) 745-3000; theciviccenter.com
Yet the purpose of the music has never been to bring listeners down, according to drummer Mike Wengren.
"Some of the records are dark and some of them are darker, but I think ultimately the point of the darkness is to let everyone know you can experience the darkness, but you can use the music to heal yourself up and get out of that hole," Wengren said in a recent phone interview.
Wengren knows Disturbed's music can have a healing effect -- not only from stories he hears from fans that have found strength in the band's music, but by looking within his group itself. Perhaps more so on "Asylum" than on any of the previous four Disturbed albums, singer/lyricist David Draiman used writing and recording to recover from what had been a particularly difficult stretch in his life.
"David had a pretty rough touring experience during 'Indestructible,' " Wengren said, referring to the group's 2008 CD. "He had a lot of bad personal issues that happened to him.
"His fiancee left him. His dog that he had had for many, many years, she was sort of our tour mascot got sick, and we had to put her down at the beginning of the (tour) cycle, and it was a pretty devastating thing for all of us, because she was such a good, close part of the family. I think he loved that dog more than he loved any person out there, so that was tough. And one of his best friends sort of betrayed him on a personal situation. It seemed like every time he turned around, something horrible was happening to him, and he was just in a really bad place."
So when it came time to write the music for "Asylum," Wengren and guitarist Dan Donegan knew Draiman needed some darkly hued music to match the kind of lyrics the singer was sure to want to write.
"We knew already where his head space was at," Wrengen said. "He needed to be able to vent and heal through the music. We knew what to give him, and I think it definitely has worked well. He's back, stronger than ever. He sounds great on stage, and he's happy to be around, and he's doing great. At the same time, of course we're going to say this, we feel it's our best and most complete body of work to date."
If the members of Disturbed have had rocky moments personally, they don't have much to complain about when it comes to their career.
The Chicago-based band made an immediate impact with its 2000 debut, "The Sickness." The CD sold 4.2 million copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan. And while the band hasn't been able to match that total since -- no surprise, since downloading has increased in the subsequent years -- each of the three CDs that followed (2002's "Believe," 2005's "Ten Thousand Fists" and "Indestructible") have topped 1 million copies sold and debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 album chart.
Sure enough, "Asylum" followed suit upon its release in late August 2010.
Now Disturbed is on the road with the latest version of its "Music as a Weapon" festival tour, co-headlining the bill with Korn. The tour, which also includes Sevendust, comes to the Cumberland County Civic Center in Portland on Saturday.
Wengren said the band's continued success has created a problem -- trying to figure out a set list.
"It can definitely be a little bit challenging, but it's a good problem to have," he said. "I feel very fortunate to have had such a long career so far and have had some No. 1 singles and have the hits that we can choose from.
"It's a challenge to pick out the hits that we know our diehard fans want to hear, but at the same time, we want to get the new music out there too."