Disturbed Exclusive ‘Asylum’ Studio Report With Dan Donegan
Rock radio sensations Disturbed, who’ve sold an impressive 11 million albums worldwide in the past decade, are working on their next album, ‘Asylum,’ due out this summer via Reprise. The band is self-producing the follow-up to the platinum-selling ‘Indestructible,’ which could be a term suitable to the band’s iron-willed tenacity and ability to write hits!
Perhaps ‘Asylum’ is a return to the band’s heavier, more ‘unstable’ roots, which were evidenced a decade ago when they arrived on the scene with ‘The Sickness.’ Do you remember when David Draiman would come on stage in a straitjacket?
Noisecreep chatted with guitarist Dan Donegan for this exclusive studio report while the band was mixing the already-tracked record in Los Angeles.
Do you enjoy self-producing?
Even from the first album, we knew our direction, our sound. We never used a producer in the role of shaping songs. That added pressure is good for us. It makes us step up to the plate and deliver, since we like that challenge. We know what we want. Everyone knows that their performance and delivery needs to be there. We just know how to work with each other. Producers are middle men and good in the case when we are butting heads or are having friction or differences of opinion. But we respect each other and there are moments where we have differences, but we’re passionate about we are doing! So far, so good! We’re getting the results we want out of it.
Have things been going smoothly in the studio?
There is always some sort of black cloud over our heads. We moved to another Chicago studio, since Johnny K bought a new place, so we’ve been working the bugs out of transferring everything over to a new space, so that’s about technology and the things that happen during a move. But overall, we’re happy. The tones are great, and I have no horror stories.
Can you clarify the writing process for us?
At the end of a tour cycle, we look forward to getting home and sleeping in our own beds. We’re burnt out from all the travelling and living out of a suitcase. But when we come home, for me personally, I am home a few weeks and I don’t know what to do with myself. I wanted to start on material right away, since [drummer] Mikey [Wengren] had a baby on the way! We started writing in August, so we had enough done up to when daughter was born, so he would be able to take a little break and be a daddy for the first time. It kept me busy through the winter.
Was the winter conducive to writing?
I love writing in the winter. It was so cold and miserable, and there is nothing you want to do outside.
Did the bitter cold influence what you wrote?
Maybe to some extent. I don’t want to be too comfortable. The type of music we write … it’s good to have those certain things that make it uncomfortable. All the guys has moved out a bit. I am the only one in Chicago. Mike moved to Milwaukee, and he made the drive every day … David moved to Texas, so he would fly in and rent a place. We had long drives to the studio, with the snow and cold. That made us totally focused.
Where is your brain at, 10 years and 11 million albums later?
It has been a great ride for us. We have more fire in us. We get excited when we write new songs, and when we have new albums coming out. I hope that we always have the fire to play and create music that moves us. We don’t second guess what we do or try to figure out what radio is looking for. We do what comes naturally
Apparently, radio likes what you do naturally, since you have had some many rock radio smashes. Can you discuss some specific songs on ‘Asylum’? It’s a very stark title.
The title track has attitude, and it’s our lengthiest song. It’s got a bit of an instrumental piece at the front, and I think the song is seven and a half minutes long, something we’ve never done before. I wanted to explore and experiment a bit and get more of that attitude to some of the music. There are a few things we’ve not touched on before, in terms of subject matter. And it’s something I am proud of.
‘Another Way to Die’ is about the acknowledgment of global warming. We took a different approach. We’ve done, what, 70-80 songs in our career? We don’t want to rehash old ideas. I was thinking of global warming issues. David already had the title and melody, and I made a suggestion to him about global warming. We’re not trying to be environmentalists, but maybe our choices in life and the ignorance of how we live is leading us to another way to die and effecting the food chain.