Heavy metal group
Aggressive rhythms, guttural, razor-sharp vocals, and rebellious lyrics—these combine to create the heavy metal style of Disturbed, who arrived on the music scene with their platinum debut The Sickness in 2000. Alternating between abrasive and melodic, each member’s diverse musical influences meld into a new metal resurrection that introduces the roots of heavy metal past to the modern electronic sounds of the twenty-first century.
The group’s musical journey began in Chicago, Illinois, in 1997, with longtime friends Dan Donegan, Fuzz, and Mike Wengren. The trio worked their way through several singers before advertising for one in the local paper. David Draiman answered the ad, and the newly formed band wrote their first song, “Want,” at his audition. The track eventually ended up on Disturbed’s debut album.
As the band tried to get their start, they found that many Chicago clubs had no interest in hosting a heavy metal group. Disturbed refused to let that get in their way, however. They played in clubs on the city’s south side until they had a following large enough to ensure their commercial viability downtown, where their audience only continued to grow. “We’ve always had to work
Members include Dan Donegan (born in Oak Lawn, IL), guitar; David Draiman (born in Brooklyn, NY), vocals; Fuzz (born in Covington, KY), bass; Mike Wengren (born in Chicago, IL), drums.
Group formed in Chicago, IL, 1997; signed recording contract with Giant Records, 1999; released debut album, The Sickness, 2000; performed on the Ozzfest and MTV’s Return of the Rock tours, 2000; headlined Music as a Weapon tour and performed on Ozzfest tour, 2001; released second disc, Believe, on Warner Bros. Records, 2002.
Addresses: Record company—Warner Bros. Records, 3300 W. Riverside Dr., Burbank, CA 91505. Website—Disturbed Official Website: http://www.disturbedl.com.
hard for what we have,” Draiman later said in the band’s record company bio. “Nothing comes easy to Disturbed. Such is life. It certainly hardened us. When you’re put in the furnace for long enough, it hones you.”
In 1998 Disturbed recorded a three-song demo, sent copies to record labels, and tried to get it into the hands and stereos of as many of their local fans as possible. As their local reputation grew, they were invited to play in a local music festival, where they garnered attention from several record labels. In August of 1999 they signed a contract with Giant Records and happily quit their day jobs.
On March 7, 2000, Disturbed released their debut, The Sickness, produced by Johnny K, which included the songs “Stupify,” “Down with the Sickness,” “Voices,” and a cover of Tears for Fears’ “Shout.” “The whole album is about aspects of humanity that we view to be negative and exposes them for what they are and forces people to look at them,” Draiman told VOX Online. “It’s about individuality and finding your path—being who you are and being fine with that.”
The theme of individuality is lies behind most of Disturbed’s music. Draiman explained the group’s philosophy to Lesa Pence at UnEarthed.com: “That’s what this band is about… to completely send the entire infostructure [sic] of the media, of modern pop culture, and everything that has to do with it completely on its back…. I think it’s time that people start accepting other people for who they are instead of trying to make them into something they’re not.”
The same week The Sickness arrived in stores, Disturbed embarked on their first world tour. They opened for bands like Danzig, Godsmack, and Stone Temple Pilots in the United States, and toured with Marilyn Manson in Europe. They also performed on the second stage of the Ozzfest 2000 tour and played an opening slot on MTV’s Return of the Rock tour. The following year The Sickness continued to rise in sales, so Disturbed was able to headline their own “Music as a Weapon” tour across America. They also performed on the main stage for Ozzfest 2001. By the time they returned home for a break, they had spent 22 months touring in support of The Sickness.
After a month of vacation, the members of Disturbed headed back into the recording studio, again with producer Johnny K, to begin work on their sophomore effort. In September of 2002, they released their second album, Believe, which, while staying true to their rock roots, moved in a more diverse direction. “Certain songs on this record are much more aggressive,” Draiman told Andrew Dansby of Rolling Stone, “There’s also a lot more soft vocal on this record, so there’s a greater contrast.” The album, which includes the singles “Prayer” and “Remember,” debuted at number one on the Billboard chart. As Greg Kot wrote in five months later in Rolling Stone, “The band’s drill-press metal reveals more of its Eighties roots…. Believe represents a skillful, if calculated, variation on the melodrama-meets-mayhem formula that has been driving the most commercially successful new metal in recent years, from Korn to Staind.” Draiman further explained the lyrical direction of Believe to Jon Weiderhorn at MTV: “The whole album’s about questioning your beliefs to determine what you really can believe in.”
Draiman codirected the video for the first single “Prayer,” but few video outlets aired it. The video’s theme was intended to parallel the trials of Job from the Bible. However, some thought that the imagery was too reminiscent of the World Trade Center collapse on September 11, 2001. Disturbed’s second single, “Remember,” was the result of surgery Draiman underwent in 2001 to repair a herniated valve at the top of his stomach. Afterward, he tried to maintain a relatively healthy lifestyle on the road. “You can’t just annihilate yourself every night and expect to pull this off,” Draiman told Jon Weiderhorn at MTV.com. “That’s what the song ‘Remember’ is all about—not focusing on all the existential chaos that’s going on around me and not necessarily getting drawn back into old habits.”
Disturbed returned to the road in early 2003, beginning their tour in Japan, New Zealand, and Australia. In March of that year, they kicked off their American tour in Green Bay, Wisconsin, and was scheduled to play music festivals in Europe following their American dates.
With a name like Disturbed, one might wonder what sorts of things might disturb the members of the band. ’The media, society, government, and organized religion try to mold you into sheep following the flock,” Draiman explained to Omar Perez at the Altar Native website. “Very few people are left to really choose what they want or want to be. That’s what disturbs us. We’ve all been outcasts in one way or another.”
The Sickness, Giant/Reprise, 2000.
Believe, Warner Bros., 2002.
Billboard, March 4, 2000.
Daily Variety, September 26, 2002.
Hollywood Reporter, September 19, 2002.
Rolling Stone, April 3, 2002; September 16, 2002; September 25, 2002; January 27, 2003.
“Disturbed Bio,” VOX Online, http://www.voxonline.com (February 2, 2003).
“Disturbed Biography,” MTV.com, http://www.mtv.com (February 1, 2003).
“Disturbed Biography,” RollingStone.com,http://www.rollingstone.com (February 1, 2003).
“Disturbed: Naked on a Platter,” MTV.com, http://www.mtv.com (February 1, 2003).
Disturbed Official Website, http://www.disturbed1.com (February 1, 2003).
“Disturbed: Spreading Their Sickness,” Altar Native, http://www.altarnative.com (February 2, 2003).
“Interview with Disturbed,” UnEarthed.com, http://www.unearthed.com (February 2, 2003).
“Interviews: Disturbed,” VOX Online, http://www.voxonline.com (February 2, 2003).