Back home after a year-long worldwide tour promoting their latest studio work, “Indestructible,” American metalheads DISTURBED are taking a break before concentrating on writing songs for their new album. We got together with Dan Donegan and John Moyer on their last show of the tour to have a look back at the year and sum it up.
Today is the last day of the European leg of your tour and it is basically the end of whole Indestructible Tour, which has lasted for nearly a year. What were the highlights of that year for you?
Dan: The year was very busy – just touring hard. We actually started touring in March 2008, in Kuwait, where we performed for the troops. And then we did a lot of tour to follow up. After that we did a short warm-up run and did a lot of festivals. Then… American tours, New Zealand, Canada. Just a very busy touring schedule. We love performing, we love being on stage, and there were many territories we needed to hit. So it took us a year to complete them all.
John: Since we are here, in Finland, one of the highlights was when we played the Hartwall Arena in Helsinki. It was just great – big show, big room. We haven’t ended up here that many times to have such a successful following. It’s very cool.
Dan: Yeah it was a nice surprise to debut so high there. In Finland we were either number one or number two, though we haven’t been there since perhaps 2002 or 2001, when we came with Marilyn Manson. It was nice to see, that all of a sudden we have another territory to come back to. Here we have our fans who are familiar with the material, calling out, wanting us back.
You are finishing your tour at the oldest Finnish festival, Ruisrock, headlining it together with SLIPKNOT and FAITH NO MORE. You did your FNM “Midlife Crisis” cover on your “Covered, A Revolution in Sound” album. Are those guys a major influence on you? And what was the reason to choose “Midlife Crisis” for the cover version?
Dan: At the time, probably back in 2000, there was a rumor of there being a FAITH NO MORE tribute album, which was supposed to come out. Before anything was confirmed, we got a small opportunity to get to the studio, ‘cause then we were on the road touring. We took this short break just going and recording it, so that if it happens, we have it. But that didn’t happen and we just left it for a while. We just like this song and the lyrics are great and we could pay tribute to the band that we really, really respect. As we were making ready the material for “Indestructible,” we just looked backed in time and wished we would have put it somewhere, because it turned out to be great. So we decided to re-track it this time with John playing on it as well. Just kind of changed the ending of the song a bit and once again sat on a it for a while ’cause we didn’t know where to put it and then Warner Bros end up putting cover album and finally we were able to let it get out and be heard.
John: I think FAITH NO MORE is a band that influences us individually and we have always liked it. I think I have always liked Mike Patton. He is such a great vocalist and they just write good songs, especially that song. And you know it’s great getting them reunited. We got to see them a couple of months ago. We’ve got to see them twice now by coming over here and it was great.
Speaking of “Indestructible,” David once commented that it implies the fact that you were able to survive through all the good and bad. So what were your hardest-to-survive circles of show-business hell?
Dan: I cannot really complain about it. You got to make sacrifices in this business, and there are certain struggles along the way. I think the biggest sacrifice for me personally, probably, is just being away from the family and friends. But that comes with the territory. We love being on the road. The trade-out is when we are done with touring, we got to go home for a long time, putting out the roles we need to do. Along the way we are used to having obstacles. We have always been a black sheep. We’ve never been a band that’s easy to label because we came in when new metal bands emerged. Some critics say we are not heavy enough to be heavy metal. Nobody knows how to label us, apart from me. I don’t care, I don’t have to fit in. I don’t need to have a label on us. We are just four guys who are getting inspired by classic metal bands. And that’s what we develop our sound on. I can’t really complain about anything in the business. I’m kind of glad we can stand on our own. The more obstacles we have, the more we push harder and we’ve proven people were wrong.
Another song title from the last album, “The Night” – could it be related to your creative process? Do you belong to that group of people who are especially creative and productive working at nights?
John: I think for most of us it is whenever inspiration hits you. Like Dan here, he works all day long on songs and commits a certain amount a day, minimum. He is just sitting there and working on different ideas and on top of that you have these moments when you got inspired when you got up in the morning and you have something in your head. Or maybe at nights you cannot go to sleep because there is something in your head, so you get up and you record it. So that’s great. But beyond that, you’ve got to put time and effort and that doesn’t matter if you stay up at nights. You should do it all the time, like with all work.
Dan: Yeah, it’s just got to come naturally. There are lots of times when I keep my guitar next to my bed, and then wake up at night and pick it up, not even thinking about it, just playing. Sometimes it happens like that sometimes it don’t. I know that for David… his ideas come when he is stoned in the shower. He used to smoke weed and get stoned while not touring. Those have been a lot of times when he came up with his best ideas.
After touring Europe so extensively, can you make any comparisons between European and American audiences? How different are they?
John: You know, I’m not really sure. There are definitely differences but you miss them at times. European metal has those definite time signatures and the way they flow. American metal is very strict. And you know, ever since I have been trying to listen, music is music. A lot of stuff that we write comes from what people call British metal: IRON MAIDEN, JUDAS PRIEST, BLACK SABBATH. To me it’s all just metal. Sometimes it’s just a different metal language, like “Du Hast” for example – the obvious difference you can hear. Metal is just a style of music, it just transcends this European and American thing. There are certain sounds that come from different areas, like grungier maybe in Seattle. But you never know. There is a band called VOLBEAT – I think they sound like an American metal band. But they are from here. I think the lines are getting blurred and there is much more of a universal deal when it comes to good heavy music.
Disturbed had announced a fan tattoo contest on your website. Would you tattoo any band logo or yourselves?
Dan: Naah, I don’t think I would. I don’t know, I mean, we are fans of lots of those bands, but to me any tattoo has to have definite personal connection or significance to me. I don’t see myself doing the band logo; it’s just not my thing. I don’t discourage fans from doing DISTURBED tattoos! Just go ahead!
John: We would like to have those images which are really powerful and have become a trademark of a band and extend beyond what we do musically. I can understand why many bands do get tattoos of their records, which are seen on their arms or bodies. It’s cool. If I did that, I would be completely covered. There are so many bands in music, it would never end! So I had to draw the line somewhere – I’m not going to do any bands for me.
If DISTURBED was a movie, which movie would it be?
John: Sometimes we are Spinal Tap.
I think all the bands have a bit of Spinal Tap in them.
Dan: That‘s true.
John: Too often we are Spinal Tap, unfortunately.
So which Spinal Tap moment did you have?
Dan: I think it is that when it was the most recent. We were performing at the Metal Gods award show. We got to the venue, the driver drives into the arena in London, and it was around the corner. He drives us in the middle and says, “All right, we are here!” And we get out, and there was nobody here. And we are trying to explain the driver that’s impossible, there should be our driver and the crew and the audience. But we found the right way at the end.
In some of his very recent interviews David mentioned that you have some songs for a new album already…
Dan: He does? Can we hear that? [laughs] We don’t have anything yet now.
John: We’ve got some ideas here and there.
Dan: I mean, there are little bits and pieces we all have, but nothing we have presented to each other. While we are on the road, while we are in touring mode, it’s really hard to gather ideas together and say, “Well, tomorrow afternoon let’s get together and try to write a song.” That’s not natural to me, like forcing it out. I know we have our little ideas here and there, which we have done on our own, and we are waiting for the right time to present it. At home we will be able to collect those ideas and thoughts and wait for when we are in song writing mode.
Interview by Cornelia Wickel