David Draiman is the lead singer of Disturbed, an alternative metal band from Chicago that came together in 1996. After blazing onto the scene with their debut album, “The Sickness,” Disturbed hit No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart with their next two efforts, “Believe” and “Ten Thousand Fists.” The multi-platinum band will release its next album, “Indestructible,” on June 3. Six Questions spoke to Draiman over the phone recently to catch up on what’s going on in the world of Disturbed.
Doug Miller: Thename of your new album is“Indestructible,” which could apply to you alone given your breakups, your garage burning down with your cars in it, a motorcycle accident and your acid reflux problems and subsequent surgery. You’ve been through a lot. Are you ever going to get a break?
David Draiman: No. Never. (Laughs). You know, I lead a charmed life. What is it they say about artists and creativity? That they go through great pain and suffering to create art? I certainly have no lack of pain and suffering. The pressure mounts and situations develop that you can never see. But I happen to have a nice little reality. The powers that be just test me whenever they can. Luckily, I’m strong enough to withstand it. We do what we do to make people feel indestructible, to make them feel powerful.
Miller: How do you feel about the fact that American soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan like to play your music to get fired up for battle? Is that weird?
Draiman: I couldn’t be more proud. You have to take it out of the context that they’re about to go take lives. To me, it’s as simple as these are our fighting men and women over in a foreign part of the world they’re not familiar with, in a war not many people understand, and they’re doing what they’re told to do. If they can get some sort of power from the music and come home safely by utilizing our music, I couldn’t be more proud. Whether you’re a soldier or an athlete or in any sort of competitive thing, any sort of physical activity that requires mental strength, I mean, that’s what this music is meant for. And no matter what I think of the war, I support our fighting men and women with every fiber of my being.
Miller: You’ve had well-documented stomach problems. Does the stuff passing for rock on the radio these days make you sick?
Draiman: You know something? All I can do is what we do. To be honest with you, the days of me concerning myself with what’s happening out there and what’s being played on the radio are over. I’ve been known in the past to lash out at things and to be almost on the attack on certain kinds of music, and I don’t see the point anymore. The strength of our music and our conviction should be testimony enough. A good way to make a statement is to put out this record. It’s the only thing I can do. But, that said, there’s a lot of great music out there. I like Serj (Tankian), I like Avenged Sevenfold’s new record. I think there’s going to be a resurgence toward the heavier side of things.
Miller: Is Disturbed in danger of becoming a metal outcast because the music is “too melodic?”
Draiman: I guess. And I appreciate all of that music. It’s amazing and rhythmic and it does what it’s supposed to do. It gets out your frustration. And there are those who are amazing at it. But I never considered us in the same category as those bands. When I used to wave the banner for metal, it was more in the spirit of Judas Priest, Iron Maiden and Metallica. That kind of metal, where there is still melody. It is still melodic. I listened to Slayer when I was younger, but we’re not very much like them. We do share some of the same fans, but on the other hand, there are a lot of bands who we don’t share fans with.
I don’t know that you could lump us into the metal category anymore, and I don’t worry about it. At the end of the day, we are Disturbed, we have a very big and dedicated fan base, and we’ll make records and give our fans exactly what they expect from us.
Miller: Are you still one of the only big-name artists out there to actually support free music on the Internet?
Draiman: I have no problem with the Internet. I have an issue with the fact that we didn’t create a system from the get-go that didn’t take stock of what has occurred with the tremendous growth and freedom of file-sharing. If you’re a baby band, the Internet is your best friend. It’s quicker and easier than ever before.
Now, for catalog artists, your livelihood is being bled dry by downloading that nobody’s paying for, that’s an issue that can be tackled in a number of ways. The record industry should come up with the next version of mp3, with more memory and better sound quality, like the CD after the tape, and we can go ahead an push things to the forefront. I still think that deals should have been made with the ISPs and labels to negotiate a flat rate. For example, if you’re a subscriber, no matter who you get your internet service from, if you pay your five bucks a month to your ISP, you get your file-sharing. Then there’s no taboos, no RIAA suing fans, and no B.S. involved. Basically, I could go on and on talking about this, but in theory, I’m not against the Internet. I’m 100 percent for it, but I’m definitely for reform.
Miller: Some internet reports say you’ve stopped drinking. That can’t be true, can it?
Draiman: I limit my drinking on the road. I haven’t stopped it completely. On the road, my reflux is much more of an issue. But when I’m off tour? Well, that’s a different story entirely. I still dive into the world of alcohol from time to time. I have to at least fulfill my duties some of the time and play the role.