Disturbed – One On One With Dan Donegan

By: Tracy Forsyth-Lundy

Live in Calgary ~ Photo by: Tracy Forsyth-Lundy

Live in Calgary – John Moyer ~ Photo by: Tracy Forsyth-Lundy

As you all are very well aware of by now, I am a huge Rock & Metal music fan ~ always have been…always will be. In the past issues of Backstage Live Magazine I have interviewed many famous as well as some not so famous artists, however they are all in the magazine for a reason – THEY RAWK!

Disturbed is our FEATURE BAND for the January issue and I am so proud to have them join our family of pure rockers here at Backstage Live Magazine. I was thrilled to be able to receive an advanced copy of their latest album ‘Indestructible’ earlier in 2008 and had no problem writing a CD review for such a masterpiece. In December I received an email asking if I was interested in an interview with the band and I damn near fell out of my chair with excitement. I already had tickets to their concert for December 3rd so to be able to have a talk with the band for a feature was an early Christmas present to me.

Disturbed gives 100% in the studio as well as on stage and each album they produce seems to tower over the last. This Grammy nominated band seems to be just like a fine Scotch or Wine – with time they are just getting better, finer & smoother. Disturbed is arguably the best ‘new metal’ band that has been produced in many years and rank right up there with Judas Priest, Iron Maiden and even Metallica. The band is comprised of David Draiman (vocals), Mike Wengren (drums), John Moyer (bass) and Dan Donegan (guitar). This kick ass quartet gets on stage, plays like no other and leaves you wanting more!

Disturbed

Disturbed

Dan took the time to speak with me last month a week before their show here in Calgary & here is what we had to talk about!

TFL: I received an advanced copy of your CD a few months ago and I was completely blown away. Thank you so very much for producing an album full of such passion and substance. I think you guys hit the nail on the head when you stated “I think we are releasing the kind of music that the industry needs right now’ – without a doubt you have done that.

DD: Cool! Well thank you very much. We are obviously very very proud of this one and it’s challenging each time to try and out do ourselves & it’s a new challenge each time we are trying to do stuff that’s not rehashed and trying to be creative & trying to just push it in slightly different directions every now and then.

TFL: ‘Inside the Fire’ is getting HUGE radio airplay here. I know the radio station that is presenting your show on December 3rd CJAY 92 plays that song all day long (Dan chuckles in the background) Is it surprising to you that this song IS getting the airplay it is getting?

DD: Um…yeah I guess kind of…I mean the way it’s been reacting in certain territories and certain markets throughout the US and in Canada I guess probably because you know the subject matter of that song as well too I guess is a little surprising that the people are embracing it a little bit more because it is a little more controversial on the meaning behind it. It’s great that they are playing it and getting the message out there.

Dan Donegan

Dan Donegan

TFL: I tell you – you rocked that song man. The guitar is mind blowing in this song – you guys are as tight as you have ever been. I’ve called this the most mature album of Disturbed that I have ever heard.

DD: Well thank you very much.

TFL: It seems like you guys grew up & it’s not that you were immature before don’t get me wrong. (Dan’s chuckling) There is such a difference from album to album it was almost like night and day & your new album just drew me in & as I went through and listened to each song they just kept getting better and better. It’s hard to find a CD that can do that, not just as a music fan but a writer in the industry. This is one of the few metal CDs that I own shy of my Maiden and Priest collection that I can throw the CD on and rock…period.

DD: Thanks you very much that is very flattering. We feel like we are accomplishing something when we have fans come up and they tell us what their favorite track is and it’s usually something different it’s not always the obvious single or ‘Inside the Fire’ or ‘Indestructible’. Everybody has got a different favorite and to us that feels like we are doing our job, we are delivering the best album that we can do at that point & I like people giving us their opinions on different tracks and I have always been a fan of that growing up – of albums! I don’t want the fans, in this day and age of downloading, to just go and download the single that they heard. I want them to appreciate the whole body of work just like it was back in the day of putting in Guns N Roses ‘Appetite for Destruction” or AC/DC ‘Back in Black’ you know. We just want them to appreciate the same way WE appreciated the whole body of work. We don’t over look any songs, any idea we try to put everything under the microscope and deliver each track the best we can do with it.

Dan Donegan

Dan Donegan

TFL: ‘The Night’ is my favorite track on this album.

DD: Thank you!

TFL: There is just something about that song that just mesmerized me the fist time I heard it. John has a wicked rhythm, you’ve got this brilliant guitar performance, Mike just has that snap on his snare & everybody as a whole…your band is just so tight! I’m almost 40 years old I can’t express how much I appreciate having such a brilliant album because the music industry is a sad state of affairs sometimes when you hear some of the albums that are being released. Dan when you guys are writing – is there a primary writer or is it all out collaborative effort by all of you?

DD: It goes in kind of stages for us I think. Everything always starts with me and with guitar riffs – I kind of just piece together a rough idea of feels good to me musically. From there Mike our drummer will come down to my house & I got a drum kit at my house and we will just play with beats & once we get a good feel of what sort of feels right to us we kind of get it to David at that point. We’ll just make a basement recording of it and we’ll just kind of mess around with it and once we strike something with it out of David. It’s a back and fourth process from there until everything is coming together & everyone has put in their ideas or their two cents you know – it’s just always kind of been that way. We kind of anticipate each guys move & what we are capable of doing and we still push each other. If anything we are always NOT concerned about our own part we are always concerned about the other guys’ – its part of pushing each other to get better performances and fresh new ideas out of each other.

Disturbed - The Band

Disturbed - The Band

TFL: Dan what or who drew you into music as a career?

DD: Um, it was just growing up to going to concerts and seeing some of my favorite bands & just seeing how powerful it was to have 4 or 5 guys on stage that were you know attracting such a big crowd & girls in the crowd that were going to the show (laughing). That is appealing to a young teenage kid that is going to come out and say ‘WOW’ – it was just very appealing to me – I’ve always wanted to be a musician & be in a band and do that. It seemed like a good form of expression, I’m typically kind of a quite guy & I’ve been a shy, quite guy growing up except within my group of friends. It’s just a good way to have that alter ego and that different side of you to just flip that switch when you go on stage you know & everybody always sees that more mean or intense guy on stage – it’s a good way to get that release.

TFL: If you could go back in time – knowing then what you know now – would you change anything about your career or are you happy with where the cards fell?

DD: You know, I can’t complain at all. I mean it’s been a great life it’s been everything that I hoped for – even the down side of things the sacrifices you make to get there that’s just part of it. No, I’m not going to give a sob story of how rough it is but that’s part of being in this business you know. The thing you don’t think about growing up when you want to be a rock star is you’re going to miss your family and friends, you’re going to miss weddings, you’re going to miss funerals – you going to have to time your own weddings and funerals because you are out on the road touring and things are a little different in that sense. BUT – the upside is I get to play music that I created for tens and hundreds of thousands of fans all of the time. I can’t believe that we have been going strong for this long; I think everything happens for a reason I’m glad that we kind of have our own sound and we were always hard to fit into a certain group or certain label and I don’t need that…it doesn’t matter to me I don’t want to be a part of a trend. I like that it has been a slow steady climb for us and we still feel like we are getting bigger. We still feel like we are getting new fans each time we go out. I wouldn’t change that because I know that it’s real, it’s organic and we built this from the ground up and it wasn’t something that we just got the success off of this mass exposure or from the media or anything else. We got it from hard touring being on the road. Of course you know the high profile tours and radio and some of that it definitely to some of the success of the band in a big way but I think just from us touring hard and delivering it live has built our fan base over the years & I wouldn’t change that.

John Moyer - Live in Calgary ~ Photo by: Tracy Forsyth-Lundy

Live in Calgary – Photo by: Tracy Forsyth-Lundy

TFL: I saw an interview online where you were talking about ‘Art of Dying’ (a Canadian band opening for them over the summer) and I have to tell you that as a writer I have been writing about Jonny and ‘Art of Dying’ for going on 2 years now. I have been a huge fan of them since I stumbled upon them on MySpace. In this interview you mentioned you like hard working bands – that is what you admire most about them is you like hard working bands.

DD: Right.

TFL: Have you ever had to let an opener go because of lack of that work ethic?

DD: We would never let them go but I prefer… I like the fact with ‘Art of Dying’ I’ve become a big fan of those guys and I’ve seen what they’ve done on a small local level as much as they can; more than any band that I’ve seen without having a label behind them you know helping them push it. They realty just put it all out there because they’re passionate about what they do. I’ve just come across a majority of bands that are lazy, they don’t want to work for it they want it handed to them & they’re second to somebody from another band like myself or a record label or somebody shows a bit of interest because the band may be good the bands seem to get even lazier. They that Ok well now we’re just going to ride the coat tails of this guy or that guy – it’s going to be a breeze. I just like to see bands that just live it; I’m going to work hard. We could have taken a band out earlier this spring that had a record deal and had an album out and had more to offer; but instead we took ‘Art of Dying’ who nobody knew about in the US tour & we brought them out because we like their work ethic we like that these guys have re-financed their homes and they did everything they can to finance the band to kind of just spread their music on their own. You know they come home, instead of them kicking back and being lazy about it thinking that we are going to do more for them they continue writing songs, they’re collaborating more & their doing a lot more. They are keeping the ball rolling for themselves & I just like to see bands that are going to do that you know probably because we can relate to that. We never had anything handed to us and I never expected it to be handed to us & I think that’s why we’ve had continued success over the years because we’re used to doing things, we’re used to breaking down walls and jumping over hurdles to get to the things that we have.

disturbed21

TFL: What is your favorite song off the new album?

DD: You know it’s so hard to pick because I’ve said it over and over is everything is so personal. With you mentioning ‘The Night’ as your favorite track, that’s definitely one of my stronger ones it’s definitely one of those tracks that anybody any of our friends that we played it for or just ourselves the first listen to it was like WOW, I actually thought it was a masterpiece it was everything that Disturbed is. It’s got this heavy riff, David’s vocal delivery is incredible, it’s melodic but still in your face. It’s definitely one of my favorites and I hardly ever pick a favorite track because it’s so personal to me but there isn’t anything that I would change about it.

I have to agree with Dan, there isn’t a thing that needs to be changed; not with the band, not with the album – it’s all as it should be and it sounds so damn good! I thank you Dan for taking the time to rock with Backstage Live Magazine!

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