Last week, Australia's Beat magazine ran an article on New Jersey's Dillinger Escape Plan, in which guitarist Ben Weinman said he'd once witnessed one of Disturbed's soundchecks and spotted something rather curious. "[They were] practicing where they were going to walk and when they were going to put their leg up on the monitor and pose," Weinman said. "That was weird for us. There are times [during live gigs] where I don't even know where I am."
Weinman's remarks were an obvious dig at Disturbed, who release their fourth studio effort, Indestructible, on June 3. It's not the first time Dillinger have started beef with a band, and it probably won't be the last. But when asked about the claims about their "onstage posing," Disturbed guitarist Dan Donegan seemed stupefied.
"I never even remember meeting these guys, and I think we know anybody that's even in the room during our soundchecks, so that's shocking to me, because I would think that we would have met them if they were standing there during our soundcheck," Donegan said. "That's funny. When we do a bigger production, there may be certain lighting cues for certain highlights of the show, but I wouldn't call it 'posing,' just a cue for our lighting guy, so he can add more drama to the set. If [Dillinger] sold some records, and were at the level we're at, maybe they'd see that, for bands like Kiss and Metallica, there are certain highlight points during a set that you want to focus on. If I'm going to go over to one spot and do a guitar solo, my lighting guy may need to know that, so he can focus in on that.
"If that's posing, then so be it," the guitarist continued. "To me, I don't think we talk about when we're going to put our foot up on a monitor. That's just silly. It's a natural thing we do. Those guys can say whatever they want. If that's supposed to be a jab at us, am I offended? I don't give a sh--. If they're saying it because they're haters, why? Because we sell millions of records and lots of tickets? It sounds more like jealousy to me."
Plus, Donegan points out, Disturbed's stage shows often feature pyrotechnics displays — as they will this summer, when the band co-headlines the inaugural Rockstar Energy Mayhem Fest with Slipknot. "We have millions of fans, and we find ways to connect with them," he added. "We utilize theatrics and pyro, so we have to rehearse where the pyro is going to go off, because we don't want to have a James Hetfield moment and get caught in the flame. But that's something Dillinger Escape Plan would know nothing about, because they don't play arenas —: they play clubs."
Now that that's all sorted out, there's new material to be discussed: Indestructible, an album Donegan feels is Disturbed's finest achievement to date.
"To us, its even heavier than [2005's] Ten Thousand Fists, and there's more attitude to it," he said. "I know 'heavy' is a relative term, but to me, heavy isn't just Cookie Monster vocals and playing as fast as you can. Heavy metal, to me, was the classic metal bands like Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath and Judas Priest — guitar- driven bands with powerful, melodic vocals. [Frontman] David [Draiman] is a melodic singer, like Bruce Dickinson. For these hardcore fans who hear melody in a song and think a band's soft or that we're not metal enough for them, oh well. The metal I grew up on were those classic bands that are still playing today and are respected by everybody. That's the path we've always tried to go down, and we seem to be going down that path."
For Disturbed, the biggest challenge making Indestructible was the production of it. The band decided they wanted to handle it themselves, which their label and management weren't so sure about at first.
"We had to make sure they were OK with us doing it without another set of ears in there — someone who could referee those times where we might be battling it out," he said. "We're just so comfortable with each other, and just so respectful of what each guy's role is in the song writing and recording process, that once we got the first couple of songs tracked, it was enough to keep the label and management out of the way. Removing that producer role had people more on the edge of their seats, just making sure we could handle it that way, without somebody else, and we proved to them — and ourselves — that we can. And it gave us the best record we've made yet."
Thematically, the record's also one of the darkest records the band's churned out. The LP's first single, "Inside the Fire," may be the most personal of all the record's tracks, and the video is a reflection of that, Donegan said. Directed by Nathan Cox, it deals with the same theme the song tackles: suicide.
"It's the darkest song David's written, and it has a personal connection to him; it's about an ex-girlfriend of his, when he was a lot younger, who committed suicide — she overdosed," the guitarist explained. "The video has to do with that same subject, but it's his girlfriend hanging herself. At the front of the video, we wanted to get a suicide prevention hotline number up there, so there's no misinterpretation of what we're saying. We're not condoning suicide, but raising awareness to the issue, so anyone who feels suicidal or is depressed or going through a hard time, hopefully it will hit those people enough to make them know that there's somebody out there willing to listen to them, so maybe they should talk to someone else if they have those feelings."
After this summer's Mayhem Fest, Disturbed plan to head overseas for a few months of live gigs, and will be back in the states before Christmas for a little rest and relaxation. Then, they'll hit the road again with their "Music as a Weapon" tour, which Donegan said is now in the planning stages.
"We continue to evolve as players and songwriters," he said, when asked what fans can expect from Indestructible. "I don't know the magic formula to being able to do it, except that we go into it with the mindset that we're doing it for ourselves and meeting our own expectations. You can't guess what the rest of the world wants.
But our fans have proven they're with us, and they're here to stay and we're certainly not going anywhere — whether you like it or not."
The rest of the week's metal news:
Within Chaos and the Destro have been added to this year's Ozzfest, which has been reduced to a one-day destination festival, set for August 9 at Pizza Hut Park in Dallas. The bill also features Metallica, In This Moment, the Sword, Goatwhore, Witchcraft and Soilent Green, among others. Oh, yeah, and they'll be dusting Ozzy off again so he can headline. ...
Norma Jean are in the middle of recording their fourth album, The Anti Mother, with producer Ross Robinson (Glassjaw, At the Drive-In) behind the boards. Slated for release later this summer, the band apparently collaborated on material separately with Helmet's Page Hamilton and Chino Moreno of Deftones. According to a statement from the band, the album's title's derived from "a character we created, which represents anything that is deceptive, and yet possesses an outwardly beautiful nature." ...
Six Feet Under have begun recording new material for their forthcoming Metal Blade Records set. According to the band, "It's great to be back in the studio, and we feel really psyched to lay these new songs down. They are some of the best stuff we have come up with, and [we] can't wait for all of our fans to hear the new stuff." ... The JonBenét have been touring the U.S., road-testing some new material, which they plan to record later this year. The band will be rolling through Anthony, Texas, Friday night (May 16), and dates are booked through June 14 in Austin, Texas. ...
It Dies Today have set Lividity as the title of their next album, which they'll be self-producing for a fall release. ... On August 19, the Acacia Strain will release their forthcoming album, Continent. The disc is being produced by Zeuss, who has worked with the likes of Hatebreed and Shadows Fall.