AUBURN, Washington — David Draiman seems sort of bummed.
Backstage, the afternoon before Ozzfest's June 29 launch, the singer is sitting with the rest of his band in Disturbed's dressing room, and it hits him like a roundhouse kick to the head.
"I just met the Avenged Sevenfold guys, and they're so young," he sighed. "And I was like, 'Oh my God — we're the old ones now. How did that happen?' With the new talent that's here, I feel good that Ozzy Osbourne is still here, because we're not as old as Ozzy. It's surreal to be the veterans all of a sudden when we were in the position of being the baby band — just kicking, fighting, scratching and clawing our way into trying to accomplish something — only six, seven years ago."
Of course, Disturbed are not strangers to Ozzfest, having played it three times before. But by the same token, the band has never closed out the festival, a job usually reserved for Ozzy himself. This summer, Osbourne will play just 13 Ozzfests, with seven appearances slated for the tour's second stage. So when Ozzy's not steering the good ship Ozzfest, it'll be up to Disturbed and System of a Down to helm the evening's festivities.
Draiman says Disturbed are more than up for that intimidating challenge. They've created different versions of their songs to incorporate more audience participation, and they've added different lighting effects and stage-design elements.
"We're trying to make it a big rock show," he said. "We always bring our A-level game, whether Ozzy's on the bill or not. When he's not, he'll be missed, by us and certainly by everyone else. There is no one on the planet who is going to make up for the fact that Ozzy's not there. All we can do is rock the same set, with the same level of intensity, as we would any other day of the week."
One of the tunes that's been getting a strong response from this year's Ozzfest crowd is "Land of Confusion," Disturbed's take on the Genesis classic and the latest single from 2005's 10,000 Fists. Draiman thinks the reaction to the band's animated video for the track, directed by Todd McFarlane (Pearl Jam, Korn), will be just as intense (see "Todd McFarlane To Make Genesis' 'Confusion' Clip Even More Disturbed").
"I think it definitely brings home a lot of the elements that the first video did, but in a far less tongue-in-cheek way," he explained. "This video is very biting, very real. It's all about the depiction of our mascot — 'The Guy,' as we call him — fighting the forces of greed and sort of insinuating that greed fuels all the conflicts that have occurred throughout time. Politics are fueled by greed as well. There are some very striking moments that occur over the course of the video, and I think that each time you run through it, you're going to find something else that you hadn't detected before."
Perhaps the most disturbing moment portrays a young girl, a bomb strapped to her chest, walking into a crowded marketplace, ignition switch in hand.
"We unfortunately live in a society where people are actually brought up to think that doing something like that is not only OK but commendable," he said. "It's abhorrent. And how much better of an illustration can you make of the awkwardness of that and the horror than by that image you see in the video? An innocent little girl, and the fact that it is animated, makes it much more biting."
Disturbed fans who might not be able to make it to Ozzfest this summer needn't worry. Draiman says the band plans to tour this fall after heading over to Europe for a spate of gigs.
"We'll be doing our Music as a Weapon run this fall, with added elements that you won't see on this summer run," he said. Draiman wouldn't comment on which bands Disturbed are considering for the support slots. "That's where we'll take everything out of the bag, playing extended sets, bringing a whole bunch of different surprises with us, production- and song-wise. That's our full-blown stadium show."