For the last month or so, Disturbed have been holed up in a Chicago recording studio, working on material for their upcoming fourth album, tentatively titled Indestructible and slated for a spring 2008 release. According to frontman David Draiman, the follow-up to 2005's Ten Thousand Fists — which has sold close to 1.5 million copies in the U.S. alone — is "dark, very dark," lyrically as well as musically. In fact, Draiman believes it's much more complex and foreboding than anything they have done during their 10 years together.
When someone like Draiman tells you his lyrics are even darker than normal, you've got to ask the man what inspired his bleak prose.
"Dude, I've had a f---ed-up couple of years," he admits with a snicker. "All kinds of horrible stuff went on. Bad breakups; I've had my garage burn down with all of my vehicles in it; I had a bad motorcycle accident that took off a whole bunch of skin from my forearm — just bad luck. It's been a fierce past couple of years, and all kinds of sh-- has gone down. This is therapy, man — I need to get this sh-- out of me."
Just how dark are Draiman's lyrics? "There are a couple of [songs] that people will probably take issue with," he said. "One in particular I can see becoming a problem, but I hope not. I have a funny feeling that some of the Bible Belt people might not be too happy with this."
Life handed Draiman some lemons, but he's not the lemonade type. Instead, he took those experiences and embraced them, using the pain and frustration to churn out some of the most intimidating lyrics he's ever put to paper. And the band followed suit, feeding off of Draiman's mood.
"This record, it's kind of all over the place, stylistically," he explained. "There's a good amount of material on this record that's very reminiscent of [2000's] The Sickness. There's also probably an equal part, or maybe a little less than equal part, of material on the record that has those elements that [2002's] Believe and Ten Thousand brought into the picture — the more intensely melodic stuff, the guitar solos. [Guitarist Dan Donegan is] just shredding, and [drummer Mike Wengren] is doing stuff on this record, and I can't even figure out how he does it. It's really a complex, dark and very fast and furiously paced record.
"These songs, to me, are a lot more interesting than anything we've done in a while," he added. "Just very, very cool, very different, very aggressive, with a lot of that very syncopated vocal style that I kind of took a turn from for a while — that's really come back very prominently on this record."
Disturbed should be finished tracking Indestructible by the end of the year. While Draiman isn't positive just how many cuts it will feature, he does anticipate the disc will include the tracks "The Night," "Run," "Deceiver," "Enough," "Inside the Fire" and "Torn."
Rather than include longtime producer Johnny K (Finger Eleven, Kill Hannah) in the process, the band decided to produce the LP themselves.
"After three records, and doing this for 10 years, if we don't know what we're doing by now, we shouldn't be doing it," Draiman said. "That's the God's honest truth. There was a reason we went with the same producer for three records in a row — we enjoyed our relationship with him and still do. But we think we've learned everything that we need to learn, and we can do it. No offense meant to Johnny, because he's very good at what he does. We just wanted to take a shot at it ourselves.
"We've always been hypercritical ... probably worse than anyone else that could enter the equation," he continued. "We've always hyperanalyzed everything, to the point of being obsessive-compulsive. We drive ourselves nuts, and it comes with good results, but it's difficult, because we all have very strong opinions. If somebody feels one way about one thing and another feels another way about another thing, that could take a couple days to sort out. So it's nice being able to have all these strong opinions, because it shows you a completely different perspective some of the time, and some of the time you need it. A producer's supposed to show you the things that you couldn't already see for yourself, but when I need something, I have Danny and Mikey, which is all I need."
Like Ten Thousand Fists, which featured a cover of Genesis' "Land of Confusion," Indestructible might include Disturbed's version of Faith No More's "Midlife Crisis." Draiman said the band hasn't decided whether the cover will make the disc's final cut, but he'd love it to.
"It's pretty wicked, and it makes it a little bit darker, more rhythmic," he said. "We changed up a bunch of sh-- in it, but it's just as layered and just as complex. I wouldn't want to rewrite anything, melodically, because [FNM frontman Mike] Patton is such a genius. I can't outdo the guy, and I don't even want to try. I don't want to start doing [covers] on a regular basis, because if we have original material that we feel is just as strong or stronger, that's going to get priority."