Disturbed: Guitar Heroes

Disturbed are back in Australia, this time supporting their 3rd successive number 1 album release, Indestructible. The album has enjoyed huge international success, not least in our sunburnt country, where it rode the Top 10 Charts for a hefty 9 weeks. Disturbed are more than happy with its reception in Australia, and have crafted a tour around the capitals of Oz to thank the fans. Dan Donegan (guitar) and Mike Wengren (drums) were kind enough to invite The Dwarf in for a chat.


Disturbed are fresh off the Rockstar Energy-drink-sponsored Mayhem festival in the United States, a gruelling 6-week tour that saw them playing alongside the likes of Slipknot, Dragonforce, Mastodon, and half a dozen others. And they loved it. "Everybody was cool to play with, it was one of the best vibes on a tour we've ever done" Dan asserted. "Each band was taking turns hosting barbeques…it was great!"


However, the band is happy enough to be back on tour in Australia. Disturbed were last in Australia in 2006, when they supported Korn on one of their extensive tours. This time, Disturbed is pulling the likes of Alterbridge and Behind Crimson Eyes along in their wake. They say the fan base here is just getting bigger and bigger. Dan puzzled over the reason with a smile. "The fans are speaking out…the rooms here have sold out, for almost every show…I think they want us to come back". As well as might be expected; since the release of their debut ‘The Sickness' in 2000, the band have sold well over 10 million albums. And Australia's rock and metal fans are ever hungry for more. "It seems that the crowds over here are maybe a lot more intense," stated Mike. Dan agreed. "Our American fans are great, but they can have us at any time…the fans over here seem a little bit more appreciative that we're coming halfway around the globe to perform. They're definitely bringing their A-game as well."


Disturbed have matured quite a way as a band, and their sound has developed from the tones revealed in ‘The Sickness'. While ‘Indestructible' certainly has elements of the same dark, twisted, heavy nature, there is much more depth of atmosphere in each track. Disturbed are more than happy with the way the music has evolved. "We wouldn't put it out if we didn't like it" explained Dan. "Writing it…it's a new challenge every time for ourselves, trying to outdo the last song we wrote. We just do it until the music sends a chill up our spines." They are also excited more than simply to get the album out; they love the extended repertoire for live sets. "It's been exciting to be able to swap out songs and change it up…to be able to pick and choose which ones we wanna do. We just feel like we're continuing to improve."


An interesting aspect of ‘Indestructible' was that the album was self produced. When I asked if the change was much of a challenge, I confess the answer caught me by surprise. "No," established Dan, "if anything it just made us aware of having to step up our game". As easy as that! I had thought that since there were so many electronic sounds and obvious ambience tinkering on so many tracks, the producer would have had a reasonable hand in the process, but apparently not! "We've always gone into a studio prepared with the material in pre-production. We've never had to rely on a producer to shape our songs and make them what they are…the way they come out is usually the way we brought them in." Don't get them wrong; not even Disturbed were born with this knowledge, as Dan quickly stressed. "We learned a great deal from our past producer… he's helped us learn how to get creative sonically. We went back and actually used his studio again just because of the comfort level there."


Disturbed showed a tender side when talking about the leading single on the album, ‘Inside The Fire'. The song is based around a female heroin addict who the singer, David, dated when he was a teenager. She eventually took her own life, and as such much of the lyrical content of the song talks about suicide. "The responses to it have been pretty good" said Mike. "We got a great deal of emails from people that were touched by it… we encouraged them to seek out help, and that there are people out there who will listen."


I couldn't pass up the opportunity to bring up Guitar Hero 3 while I was around the mighty band, in honour of all the people who've spent hours mastering ‘Stricken' on Expert Mode, and Disturbed grudgingly opened up about the phenomenon. "We're always looking for new ways to interact with our fans," Mike affirmed. "If there's something like the video game market, it'll give fans a new chance to connect with our music. David's done a couple of things online, playing Xbox with some of the fans… we played foosball with our friends back in the States, we used to bring a table out on tour with us." Dan was not quite so enthusiastic. "Hopefully it will encourage kids to wanna pick up the real instrument and get more players out there," he mused.


One final message for the people?


"We plan on keeping on coming back to Australia. The fans have spoken."


Keep on speaking Aussies.

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