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Vocalist David Draiman Discusses New Disturbed Album "Asylum"
"Asylum," the latest album from Chicago hard rockers Disturbed, is set to hit stores at the end of the month. In anticipation of the new release, the band has already launched a new music video for the song "Another Way to Die," and also just kicked off a North American tour. Prior to the start of the tour, Disturbed vocalist David Draiman checked in with Metalunderground to discuss the new album.
Commenting on the direction of the album, Draiman stated "There’s heightened levels of complexity and precision and it kind of showcases the abilities that we’ve learned over 10 years of songwriting and touring. It’s definitely everything that fans would expect from the band and a few things that they wouldn’t with a new level of maturation that I think is very evident over the course of the entire record." David also discusses the lyrical themes of "Asylum," extra songs from the recording session that will show up later, working with Todd McFarlane on previous ventures, and the infamous Richard Cheese rendition of the "Down With The Sickness" track.
xFiruath: Let’s jump right into the new album “Asylum.” What’s going on with this new album and what can we expect to hear this time around?
David: We definitely go a few new directions with it. It’s on the more instrumental tip of things. The whole intro to the record is an instrumental piece that goes part and parcel with the title track “Asylum.” There are more laid back setup parts that are accented by the aggression that comes in as in the new single “Another Way to Die.” There’s heightened levels of complexity and precision and it kind of showcases the abilities that we’ve learned over 10 years of songwriting and touring. It’s definitely everything that fans would expect from the band and a few things that they wouldn’t with a new level of maturation that I think is very evident over the course of the entire record.
xFiruath: With this new album is there a specific theme behind the lyrics or do they tie into any particular idea?
David: The lyrics are very story telling in nature and far less cryptic than previous records have been. As far as thematically, it ties in with the dual meaning of the world “Asylum.” The title track deals with the memory of a lost loved one driving you to the brink of madness and insanity and yet that memory is also a haven for you, a safe place to be. The record itself speaks of the madness and chaos of the world in which we live, and yet the world must be made to be a safe place for us to feel.
xFiruath: Where did the recording take place and did you guys produce this one on your own again?
David: Yes. It was recorded at Johnny K’s new Groovemaster location. There’s a new building he has in Chicago, but it’s the same people.
xFiruath: I read that you guys had something like 15 or 18 songs. Are there any extra songs not on the album that will show up in the future?
David: Very definitely some extra ones. Who knows where they’ll end up? They always end up rearing somewhere, but I don’t know where yet. There’s a song that was written about the West Memphis Three called “Three,” which is not on the record and it will probably show up somewhere, sometime. We were talking about donating it to the cause. There’s a couple of other tracks that are “B-Sides.” There’s a Judas Priest cover that was done in conjunction with Metal Hammer on the anniversary of the “British Steel” record. There’s some extra stuff out there that will definitely see the light of day.
xFiruath: Who did the art on “Asylum?”
David: The artist’s name is Raymond Swanland. It’s our favorite rendition of the guy that we’ve seen thus far. It’s more frightening and much more visceral, much more demonic looking. We love it. It’s very striking.
xFiruath: How did you originally get hooked up with Todd McFarlane for the previous artwork?
David: We sought him out. It was kind of a request of mine. I was a fan of his work from the Spawn series and I loved the way he had very intricate detail in his work. We did get a chance to work directly with him when we made the video for “Land of Confusion.” We went over story boards and viewed preliminary artwork and gave our input. It was interesting because we went to his headquarters where Todd McFarlane’s Toys is based out of. We go to see all of the empire he’s built for himself, which was pretty impressive.
xFiruath: Tell me a bit about the new DVD coming out “Decade of Disturbed.”
David: That’s being offered free with the purchase of the new record. That’s our gift to the fans. For those who buy the limited edition they will get a hard copy DVD with that. It’s a documentary showcasing the life of the band for the last decade, how things have grown over the last ten years, ups and downs. It kind of gives you a little bit more insight into the characters behind the members of the bands. It’s actually really funny. I think it’s going to catch a lot of people off guard to see how like a little traveling circus life on the road can be for us.
xFiruath: A couple of months back you guys reissued your flagship album “The Sickness.” What prompted you to do that and what changed on the reissue?
David: Well it was completely remixed and remastered. We tried to bring it up to today’s level of sound. It was the 10 year anniversary of the record and we were trying to honor that as well. We wanted to give the fans something fresh and a heightened audio quality level. Neal Avron, who mixed our last two records, remixed it and did an amazing job at it. If you compare the old version to the new one sonically, this one is hands down far and away. We also give a couple of additional b-sides that were not on the original record that were recorded during that session.
xFiruath: When is Disturbed hitting the road next?
David: We start on the 12th and then after that we are playing Sturgis with the Scorpions, which should be great. We start the Uproar tour shortly thereafter with us, Avenged Sevenfold, Stone Sour, Hellyeah, Airbourne, and a number of other bands. It’s going to be one big traveling spectacle and it should be a good time. We’re looking forward to seeing a bunch of old friends and unleashing the power of the combined bill on the fans.
xFiruath: Will there be any music videos for the new album?
David: We’ve already filmed a few. We did one for “Another Way to Die.” We did a video piece for the title track “Asylum” for a viral release online. It was actually a challenging day to try and get a couple of videos done in a day’s time was not easy for me. Things have been coming together really well. There was a lyric video already put out for “Another Way to Die” but the actual main video should be ready very soon and then I have yet to see the first edit for the “Asylum” piece.
xFiruath: Fill us in on which bands you’ve been listening to lately.
David: I’ve been listening to a band that we have coming out on our label that Danny and I have been working with for quite awhile. They are called Art of Dying. They just finished making a record not too long ago and it’s a really amazing record. Kind of like a fusion of Alice in Chains and the Eagles. Real big harmonies and great vocals and great rhythmic music behind it. I’m looking forward to having that see the light of day. I’ve been listening to the most recent Alice in Chains record quite a bit, I love that. Volbeat, I’m really digging those guys.
xFiruath: I absolutely love that Richard Cheese version of “Down With the Sickness.” I’ve always wondered how that came about. Did he contact you or was it a collaboration?
David: No he just did it, and I loved it. I loved it even before we were approached by the Dawn of the Dead guys to use it in the movie. I thought it was great. He does a whole bunch of lounge versions of rock and metal songs. I was flattered that he decided to do “Down With the Sickness” and his version is awesome. It’s perfect and I really enjoy it.
xFiruath: For any of your fans who aren’t familiar with your story, when did you get into music and what made you want to be in a band?
David: I snuck out of my parent’s house when I was about 12 years old and traveled down town and saw a show at what was then called the Cabaret Metro downtown in Chicago. It was just some local punk band playing and doing some Ramones covers and Misfits covers and some original material. I remember having my breath taken away by the whole live experience. That was the first concert I had been too and I was instantly hooked on the whole live experience and energy exchange. I really grew to love it. It was a catalyst and the first record I bought was “Destroyer” by Kiss.
xFiruath: Would you like to say anything else about the new record?
David: We’re really looking forward to seeing people’s reactions to it and seeing what they think of it. We’re very proud of it and we think it’s our strongest body of work to date and we hope everyone else feels the same.
Ty Arthur is a freelance writer who writes for both entertainment and technical instruction sites. An avid fan of many different forms of metal, he has been involved in reviewing music for several years and is currently a contributing editor for Metalunderground.com