Disturbed vocalist David Draiman has some pretty strong views about religion and art, but over the past year he's found himself scrutinizing and re-evaluating both. He still values his Jewish heritage, but has felt the sting of its methodology. He remains dedicated to his musical career, yet has been frustrated by his inability to have a life outside of show business. These experiences, along with the overall shroud of insecurity triggered by 9/11, inform Disturbed's upcoming record, Believe, which the band is currently working on in a Chicago studio.
"All the songs revolve around the theme of belief," Draiman said during a recording break. "They're about belief in humanity's potential, in the existence of the world and in your own potential. And it's also about questioning your belief. There are new realizations that you come to being in this line of work and being at the scope we've reached. All of a sudden you doubt everyone around you even more than you initially did. You doubt their intentions, you doubt the strengths of their convictions and their beliefs in you and what you're doing."
At present, the band has completed nine of 12 songs at Chicago's Groovemaster Studio with Johnny K, who produced Disturbed's 2000 debut disc, The Sickness. So far, the record is shaping up to be a slugfest of dynamics, balancing both heavy and soft music styles.
"It's intensely more melodic [than our first record], and there's a lot more contrast of vocal styling between a softer way of singing and the hard way I've typically been associated with," Draiman said. "I wanted to really show there are more sides to Disturbed and more that we have to offer. But the beauty of all the songs on the record is that they're just pure and unadulterated in every sense of the word 'metal.' "
Unlike The Sickness, which was mostly about being a black sheep in a bleak world, Believe addresses Draiman's realizations over the past two years. Some tracks, such as "Remember," are about the spit-'em-up, chew-'em-out nature of the music industry, while "Awaken" deals with America's never-ending obsession with vacuous "wallpaper music." Then there are songs such as "Dehumanize," "Bound" and "Intoxication" which confront Draiman's inability to have a meaningful romantic relationship.
"I've had various experiences with women over the past two-and-a-half years that have made me have several chips on my shoulder," he said. "Not in an angry way necessarily, but almost in a pleading way. I'm at a point in my life where I've had my heart torn apart so many times that there's just not much left to it."
Draiman also had his heart broken last year by his own family. As the oldest child, he spent many of his younger years being doted on by his beloved grandfather, an orthodox Jew. But when Draiman discovered his calling as a pierced, rebellious rocker, his grandfather cut off all contact up until the time he was on his deathbed last summer.
"As his health began to wane and as he felt his mortality creeping up on him, I was allowed in some sense to kind of come back into the picture on a less significant level," Draiman recalled. "And that very adversely affected me. I was actually on Ozzfest when I first got the phone call that he was on his deathbed and only had about 24 to 48 hours to live, and he was in Israel so I couldn't be with him. I was backstage at the time, and Marilyn Manson saw me coming out of the room, and he asked me if I was alright. I explained to him what happened, and it was the first time I had ever seen an actual look of remorse on his face. No one could look at the aura I projected over the course of that next week and not feel my pain and those feelings very definitely will present themselves on the record."
Many rock stars dealing with loss and pressure are able to bond with their bandmates and party their sorrows away, but during the past year on the road, Draiman discovered that he lacks the physical and emotional stamina to whoop it up all night, every night. Just the thought leaves him feeling intellectually empty, as he expresses on "Remember."
"There's a helplessness that I feel and I have felt throughout my experience on the road," he said. "I live in a world that is very chaotic and all around me there are people that are living a lifestyle that I cannot completely subscribe to. I can't let myself get out of control or out of hand or it will affect me physically and I won't be able to perform the way I need to. Yet everyone around me is drunk and knuckleheaded and exhibiting all forms of excessive behavior and I have to sort of retreat into myself."
As of yet, Disturbed haven't chosen a first single not because they feel nothing's good enough, but because they think everything is. "There are so many potential first singles," Draiman raved. "The way things are coming together, there are only one or two tracks that I could see not being singles."