Disturbed: "Sometimes people cannot handle that a band they loved privately is shared with the world"

Disturbed press shot
(Image credit: Travis Shinn)

Chicago nu-metallers Disturbed achieved their first No.1 debut weekly chart placing on the Billboard album chart with 2002's Believe, and then, as if to prove it wasn't a fluke, repeated the feat with their next five albums. Small wonder, then, that they'll fill the special guest on Saturday night on the main stage at this year’s Download Festival, warming the crowd up for headliners Metallica.

Below, frontman David Draiman previews their performance.


Released back in November, wasn’t Divisive, Disturbed’s eighth studio album, a response to the covid crisis? 

The covid crisis exacerbated everything. Two years of being held hostage by a virus that was killing people and nobody knew when it would end. But even more damaging than the loss of life and general deprivation, with nothing to do and no one to do it with our only friend was the internet. Many people lost their goddamn mind. Things became so much more polarised. It was the perfect storm; crazy people became a hundred times crazier. 

Ann Wilson of Heart became involved on the ballad Don’t Tell Me because she was a fan of Disburbed’s cover of Simon & Garfunkel’s The Sound Of Silence

I imagine that’s what got her attention. One day I was blown away by being involved in a Twitter exchange with her and Bruce Dickinson, who was complimenting her as one of the greatest female rock voice of all time. I prefer to think of her as one of the greatest voices, regardless [of gender]. We just shot a video for that song with her and it was a crazy experience. Ann is unbelievably intimidating, and I don’t think she even knows it. 

Talking of ballads, Classic Rock’s review of Divisive proposed that since the reboot of The Sound Of Silence went “supernova”, fans now want something similar with each of your new albums. How do such expectations sit with you?

I’m totally cool with that. Going into the [mellower] zone with that song, or others like A Reason To Fight or Hold Onto Memories, has become a hallmark of our live performance. They take us to a different place, just like lulls in the storm.

The single Hey You is about the civil discourse that has become part of America’s daily diet. 

There’s nothing civil about it. Discourse used to involve listening to the other person in an argument, now there’s only shouting at each other. People only want to hear what they already think. 

Do you have any solutions? 

Only through the prevention of rewarding people for all of this tribal garbage. Let’s stop breeding fear. The same old bullshit keeps getting spun and people always swallow it. 

Bad Man was inspired by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and there are no prizes for guessing who its target is.

It’s about any number of bad actors that continue to spread discourse across the planet. But you can’t let a monster like Vladimir Putin take any country that he wants to. You know, it’s difficult, because while I support the defence of Ukraine I would rather efforts were taken to end the conflict. The business of war is very, very profitable.

The album is called Divisive presumably in response to the fact that to a particular type of heavy metal fan, consistent chart-topping sales is a very bad thing? 

Jealous girlfriend syndrome is very real [laughs]. When the person that you first got the hots for is all of a sudden appreciated by the mainstream, it can be enraging. Sometimes people cannot handle that a band they loved privately is shared with the world. It loses its lustre. That’s part of human nature, and I get it. I really have no problem with trading obscurity for success. I sleep just fine at night. 

If someone going to Download was considering watching Disturbed for the first time, what should they expect? 

They should be prepared to be involved. Ours isn’t a passive show, it’s a roller-coaster and we will pull you in. I always love watching a field full of heavy music fans being reduced to tears. 

Disturbed play the Download Festival on June 10.

Dave Ling

Dave Ling was a co-founder of Classic Rock magazine. His words have appeared in a variety of music publications, including RAW, Kerrang!, Metal Hammer, Prog, Rock Candy, Fireworks and Sounds. Dave’s life was shaped in 1974 through the purchase of a copy of Sweet’s album ‘Sweet Fanny Adams’, along with early gig experiences from Status Quo, Rush, Iron Maiden, AC/DC, Yes and Queen. As a lifelong season ticket holder of Crystal Palace FC, he is completely incapable of uttering the word ‘Br***ton’.