From their humble South Chicago beginnings to the mega spotlight, Disturbed achieved that ultimate goal many, if not all, career-minded musicians work toward. Well, the guys of Disturbed haven’t slowed down a bit since their wildly-popular debut album The Sickness dropped in 2000. Four more albums later, and guitarist Dan Donegan says he’s still not tired of playing the old favorites like “Stupify” and “Down with the Sickness” mixed in with fresh and volatile new anthems. On August 31st, Disturbed releases Asylum, their fifth official studio album, and it sounds as good as one would expect. They are a very passionate bunch and the songs show it.
Donegan took a moment from touring duties to chat with COED about everything from their sinister logo to what makes them tick :
COED: Disturbed lyrics often lean towards a darker side of things. How would you characterize the new album’s vibe?
Dan: It’s always hard to compare. It has it’s moments. Every song has a different vibe or feel, that certain emotion when it’s written. It’s a bit of a roller coaster ride, ups and downs. But the songs do come from a darker place, but we try to have a positive message from those feelings. David wrote about breakups and depression on a song called “Crucified” and being able to deal with those feeling and coming out strong. The song “Innocence” is about corrupt attorneys, these lawyers job to defend killers or child molesters , how do they sleep at night? Certain things in life are frustrating.
COED: You sound very passionate about the content.
Dan: David’s lyrics are usually more cryptic, but with “Another Way to Die” it raises more awareness. The BP spill, well that is ironic timing. Global warming though has been an issue for a long time. For us, all of our songs are very personal. The subject matter is very important to us. We’re not trying to shove our thoughts down anyone’s throats, but the music is our outlet to speak our minds and opinions. The lyrics are genuine and real and we connect with . We are fortunate that fans connect too. They aren’t words just to fill up space.
COED: Speaking of “Another Way to Die”, one of the two videos you’ve released for this album, what is the band’s creative input level on videos?
Dan: Mainly picking a director whom we’ve seen stuff before. Roboshobo did stuff for Metallica and Mastodon. He’s newer but we liked his work. Videos are not what we got into the business for, writing music is what we’re all about. That end of it is always weird for us to trust people outside the four of us, creatively. With “Another Way to Die” being about global warming, it was direct and to the point, nothing cryptic about it. It was a little easier for him to come up with content and images. As far as “Asylum” went, it was more of a viral internet thing we were doing. We were shooting a live piece that I wrote a treatment for, and that same day we figured it was more cost effective for him to shoot more stuff. This was probably one of my favorite videos to date, and we didn’t have to be in it, just leave the acting up to the actors.
COED: What are the origins of the band mascot, “The Guy”?
Dan: Early on when we were a local band playing the south side of Chicago band in bars, it kind of became a trademark for us. David was friends with a graphic arts guy. He tried to emulate this little sinister smile David made and distort it. We started the local fan base getting this tattoo of this face. Especially before we got signed, it was overwhelming that people were marking their bodies with our logo and we didn’t even have a demo! With each album, we evolve that character. We had Todd Mcfarlane do the 10000 Fists album and the video for “Land of Confusion”. To change things up, we had this guy David Finch do the Indestructible artwork, and that turned out great too. Now with Asylum, we had a new artist come in and do his rendition.
COED: Supporting a new album usually requires long touring schedules. Do you still like to tour and play the old classics live?
Dan: To us, the touring part is the superbowl. The rest is the preseason, necessary stuff to get us there. For me, I do like the studio, but our biggest passion is the performance end of it. Surprisingly, I still love playing the older stuff. It’s exciting to see a reaction to the new material, but I’m really not tired of playing “Down with the Sickness” or “Stupify”. It’s still as exciting as the day we wrote the songs. When the crowd roars, it’s the highlight of the night.
Check out the two official Disturbed videos from the new album Asylum: