David Draiman: 8 songs that changed my life

David Draiman
(Image credit: Travis Shinn)

Disturbed may be nu-metal legends with five Billboard 200 chart-toppers – from 2002's Believe through to 2015's Immortalized – but they aren't afraid to mix it up a bit, as their covers of the likes of Genesis, Tears For Fears and U2 have proven. They scored a huge hit with their dramatic reading of Simon and Garfunkel's The Sound Of Silence in 2015 – "A very welcome surprise," their frontman David Draiman tells us – and it gave them the push to mix things up on their last album, 2018's Evolution. “We had the courage to create unreservedly and without limitations,” David insists, “as my favourite artists always have…”

From ghoulish punk rock to heavyweight stoner jams, a seductive dancefloor hymn and the ultimate wedding song, here are the songs that changed David Draiman's life. 

Metal Hammer line break

Sex Pistols – Holidays In The Sun (1977)

When I was first introduced to punk, the very first record that I listened to was Never Mind The Bollocks… This is the first track on the record, a bull-buster, so amazingly in-your-face and rebellious and all the things you want from punk. The Sex Pistols defined punk, and this song is like a rallying cry to me. I was into a lot of punk at the time – Buzzcocks, Ramones, Misfits, Operation Ivy – but the Pistols were such an important band in my life. I know a lot of what they were singing about was specific to Britain, but rebellion is universal, and this made total sense to me back then.

The Cure – Disintegration (1989)

The Cure paint such a beautiful musical landscape in this song. This might sound strange, but it’s so beautifully depressing. I love the whole vibe of it, and it kinda puts you in a place where you’re able to come to terms with your emotions. That’s what it did for me at the time when I first heard it as a teenager. My friends at the time were very into punk and new wave and I discovered The Cure through them. People don’t give Robert Smith enough credit, he’s absolutely brilliant and through him The Cure created a world of their own. If I was going to do a Disturbed version of a Cure song I might do Never Enough.

Journey – Open Arms (1981) 

This is a special song between my wife and I. I’m sure it’s a special song between a lot of guys and their wives, but I actually sang this to my wife at our wedding. As sloppy and drunk as I was at the time, she was touched. Journey were huge for me back in the day. I couldn’t get enough of Steve Perry’s voice and the anthemic nature of all their songs, I was absolutely enamoured by them. Sadly I never got to see them when Steve Perry was fronting the band, but the songs from his new record Traces show that he’s still got it.

Misfits – Last Caress (1980) 

I loved the Misfits. Them and the Ramones are the two most melodic punk bands to me. Glenn Danzig really is the Dark Elvis of the genre, his voice is so powerful and unique, and I loved how he could make punk sound so harmonious. This song is the perfect example, but there’s so many great ones – Die, Die My Darling, Mommy Can I Go Out And Kill Tonight?, the list goes on. Who hasn’t worn a Misfits shirt at some point in their life?

Depeche Mode – Personal Jesus (1990)

There used to be a really strong industrial music scene in Chicago when I was growing up and although Depeche Mode aren’t an industrial band, this got a lot of airplay in the industrial clubs, because of the feel of it. I love Depeche Mode in general, just about their entire catalogue, right back to songs like Just Can’t Get Enough, but back in the day when I went to clubs like The Limelight and The Crowbar in Chicago, I’d always get a little more amped and a little more crazy when this tune would come on and that groove started.

The Doors – Break On Through To The Other Side (1967)

I loved what The Doors embodied, and the vibe of what they created. This song just typifies what The Doors were, they were all about breaking through to the other side. Jim Morrison was an amazing frontman, you can’t help but have tremendous respect and admiration for what he did and the artist that he was. For some reason, The Doors don’t seem to be held in the same high regard as a lot of the classic rock bands and I don’t know why that is. It seems unjustified.

Black Sabbath – Sweet Leaf (1971)

Speaking about my drug of choice! My first exposure to Sabbath was the We Sold Our Soul For Rock’n’Roll compilation and this song in particular – with the groove, and that amazing riff and progression plus the incredible hook that Ozzy wielded – I just loved. Did I have my own little stoner rock crew then? I have my own little stoner rock crew now, ha ha! Whenever I hear this I can’t help but break into a smile. Ozzy is one of the men I respect most in the world: he’s an amazing man, with an amazing family, and what they’ve done for the genre in general is incredible.

The Smiths – Please, Please, Please, Let Me Get What I Want (1984) 

[Sings] 'Haven’t had a dream in a long time…' I love that song, I love The Smiths, and I love Morrisey’s voice and incredible wit and lyricism. The Smiths were so different and unique, they didn’t follow any playbook,  and the directions their songwriting took was incredible. In my little clique, The Smiths kinda fell into the new wave category, and they were a comfortable fit for us. Can’t say I ever stuck any gladioli in my jeans pockets, but The Smiths were heroes to me. 

Paul Brannigan
Contributing Editor, Louder

A music writer since 1993, formerly Editor of Kerrang! and Planet Rock magazine (RIP), Paul Brannigan is a Contributing Editor to Louder. Having previously written books on Lemmy, Dave Grohl (the Sunday Times best-seller This Is A Call) and Metallica (Birth School Metallica Death, co-authored with Ian Winwood), his Eddie Van Halen biography (Eruption in the UK, Unchained in the US) emerged in 2021. He has written for Rolling Stone, Mojo and Q, hung out with Fugazi at Dischord House, flown on Ozzy Osbourne's private jet, played Angus Young's Gibson SG, and interviewed everyone from Aerosmith and Beastie Boys to Young Gods and ZZ Top. Born in the North of Ireland, Brannigan lives in North London and supports The Arsenal.