|Erich Awalt – Steve Kmak|
Disturbed is an American heavy metal band from Chicago, formed in 1994. The band includes vocalist David Draiman, guitarist/keyboardist Dan Donegan, bassist John Moyer and drummer Mike Wengren. Draiman, Donegan and Wengren have been involved in the band since its inception, with Moyer replacing former bassist Steve Kmak, first as session performer in 2003, and then officially in 2005.
The band has released seven studio albums, five of which have consecutively debuted at number one on the Billboard 200. Disturbed went into hiatus in October 2011, during which the band’s members focused on various side projects, and returned in June 2015, releasing their first album in four years, Immortalized in August 2015. They also released two live albums, Music as a Weapon II in February 2004 and Disturbed: Live at Red Rocks in November 2016.
Early years (1994–1996)
Before David Draiman joined Disturbed, guitarist Dan Donegan, drummer Mike Wengren and bassist Steve “Fuzz” Kmak were in a band called Brawl with vocalist Erich Awalt. Before changing their name to “Brawl“, however, Donegan mentioned in the band’s DVD, Decade of Disturbed, that the name was originally going to be “Crawl”; they switched it to “Brawl”, due to the name already being used by another band. Awalt left the band shortly after the recording of a demo tape; the other three members advertised for a singer. They posted an advertisement in the local music publication in Chicago, Illinois, called the “Illinois Entertainer”. Draiman answered the advertisement after going to twenty other auditions that month. Guitarist Dan Donegan commented on Draiman: “You know, out of all the singers that we had talked to or auditioned, he [Draiman] was the only singer who was ready to go with originals. And that impressed me, just to attempt that”.
With regard to Draiman being the singer for the band, Donegan said, “After a minute or two, he just starts banging out these melodies that were huge…I’m playing my guitar and I’m grinning from ear to ear, trying not to give it away that I like this guy, you know, because I don’t want to, you know…[say] ‘Yeah, we’ll give you a call back. We’ll, you know, discuss it.’ But I was so psyched. Chill up my spine. I’m like, ‘There is something here.'” As drummer Mike Wengren commented, “We clicked right off the bat.” Draiman then joined the band in 1996 and the band was renamed Disturbed. When asked in an interview why he suggested to name the band “Disturbed”, Draiman said, “It had been a name I have been contemplating for a band for years. It just seems to symbolize everything we were feeling at the time. The level of conformity that people are forced into was disturbing to us and we were just trying to push the envelope and the name just sorta made sense.”
The Sickness (1997–2000)
After renaming the band, Disturbed went on to record two 3-track demo tapes, the first containing demos for “The Game”, “Down with the Sickness“, and “Meaning of Life”, while the second had demos for “Want”, “Stupify“, and “Droppin’ Plates.” The artwork was composed of the band’s recently created mascot, The Guy. The band eventually signed with Giant Records. In 2000, the band released its debut album, titled The Sickness, which launched the band into stardom. The album peaked at number twenty on Billboard 200, and it has sold over four million copies in the United States since its release. Before joining Marilyn Manson‘s 2001 European tour, bassist Steve Kmak was unable to play with the band due to a shattered ankle, caused by falling out of a fire escape outside Disturbed’s rehearsal hall in Chicago. He took the fire escape to exit the building while the elevator was being used to move their equipment downstairs. Kmak skipped the European trek of the tour, but he did perform with the band on January 11 and 12, 2001 at Disturbed’s show in Chicago. During the European tour, Marty O’Brien replaced Kmak until he was able to tour again.
David Draiman on stage in front of the Believe logo
Disturbed covered the song “Midlife Crisis” for a Faith No More tribute album that was eventually released in 2002. However, Disturbed’s cover was not used, and a rerecorded version would later make an appearance on the compilation album, The Lost Children. In September 2001, production of their second studio album began. On June 4, 2002, Disturbed released a documentary DVD about the band, titled M.O.L., which showed some of the band’s more personal moments in the studio and during tours, as well as featuring several music videos and live performances. On September 17, 2002, Disturbed released their second studio album, titled Believe, which debuted at number one on the Billboard 200. The music video for the first single from the album, titled “Prayer“, was pulled from most television stations, due to perceived similarities with the September 11, 2001 attacks. David Draiman recorded vocals for a song titled “Forsaken”, a song written and produced by Jonathan Davis of the band Korn, released on Queen of the Damned.
In 2003, the band once again participated in the Ozzfest tour and started another one of their own tours, titled Music as a Weapon II. The bands Chevelle, Taproot, and Ünloco toured with them. During the tour, Disturbed debuted an unreleased song, titled “Dehumanized”. After Disturbed finished the Music as a Weapon II tour, Steve Kmak was fired by the band because of “personality differences”. He was replaced by John Moyer; Moyer’s last band, the Union Underground, had recently become inactive. On the night Moyer became the band’s new bass player, Disturbed played live at the House of Blues and performed two new songs, “Hell” and “Monster”, both of which are B-side tracks on the band’s third studio album, Ten Thousand Fists.
Ten Thousand Fists (2004–2006)
Disturbed’s third studio album, Ten Thousand Fists, was released on September 20, 2005. The album debuted at number one on the Billboard 200, while also selling around 238,000 copies in the week following its release. The album was certified platinum, shipping 1,000,000 units, in the United States on January 5, 2006. The band toured with 10 Years and Ill Niño in support of the album. Disturbed headlined Ozzfest 2006 along with System of a Down, Lacuna Coil, DragonForce, Avenged Sevenfold, and Hatebreed.Disturbed performing in 2005
In an interview with Launch Radio Networks, Disturbed vocalist David Draiman stated that twenty songs were recorded for the album, but only fourteen made it to the final track listing. The remaining songs included “Hell”, which was included in one of the two “Stricken” singles; “Monster”, which was included as an iTunes pre-order bonus for Ten Thousand Fists, then later included on the Ten Thousand Fists Tour Edition; “Two Worlds”, which was also included on the Tour Edition of Ten Thousand Fists; and “Sickened”, which was included in the “Land of Confusion” single. Ten Thousand Fists is the first album released by Disturbed to feature guitar solos. The band stated that they felt that guitar solos are a part of music that is absent in a lot of modern music, and they wanted to bring some of that back. Songs like “Stricken“, “Overburdened”, and “Land of Confusion” all feature guitar solos, as well as many others.
In 2006, a European tour was scheduled but had been moved twice due to Draiman having troubles with severe acid reflux, which affected his voice, as related by Draiman himself. Later that year, Draiman underwent surgery for a deviated septum which affected his voice. It was successful, and ever since then, Draiman has limited his drinking on the road. In late 2006, Disturbed headlined another one of their own tours named Music as a Weapon III; the bands Flyleaf, Stone Sour, and Nonpoint toured with them. Disturbed completed the first leg of their Music as a Weapon III tour in late 2006. Soon after, Draiman stated that there was not going to be a second leg to the tour and that instead the band was going off the road to start working on their fourth studio album.
In July 2007, a new track titled “This Moment” was released on the soundtrack to the film Transformers. Disturbed mixed their fourth studio album, titled Indestructible, in Los Angeles in late 2007. In an earlier interview, David Draiman said that they were going to record fifteen songs, but only twelve would be on the album.
Indestructible’s first single, “Inside the Fire” was made available on digital distribution services for purchase on March 25, 2008. The band also toured in the United States in April and May 2008 with the bands Five Finger Death Punch and Art of Dying. The music video for “Inside the Fire” was released on May 2, 2008 on the band’s official website. Disturbed released their previously free song “Perfect Insanity” on iTunes Store as a second single on May 6, 2008, and the album Indestructible become available for pre-order for the release date on June 3, 2008. Indestructible was released in the United States on June 3, 2008 and in Australia on June 7, 2008 and became the band’s third consecutive number one debut on the Billboard 200. A special “Internet Only” limited edition of the album that includes the B-side track “Run”, a making-of DVD with instructional videos, wrap-around poster, VIP laminate, access to special Disturbed events, and a special website with an exclusive video, rare audio and more was also released. Disturbed played their first live online concert on May 29, 2008. The concert was sponsored by Pepsi and Deep Rock Drive. They performed in Las Vegas. The band toured in support of the “Mayhem Festival“ alongside Slipknot, DragonForce and Mastodon during summer of 2008. Disturbed also completed a tour of Australia and New Zealand through August and September 2008.
In May 2008, Harmonix, the developers of the video game Rock Band announced they had reached a deal with Disturbed and Best Buy to offer two tracks from Indestructible for play in Rock Band to those who pre-ordered the album from Best Buy’s website. On June 3, 2008, Harmonix released three tracks from Indestructible; “Indestructible“, “Inside the Fire“, and “Perfect Insanity“. On May 12, 2009, Harmonix released Stricken and Stupify to the Rock Band music store.Dan Donegan (left) and John Moyer in 2009
On September 30, 2008, the band released an iTunes-exclusive live album entitled Live & Indestructible, made up of songs from Deep Rock Drive, as well as the music video for “Indestructible”. The band started a tour of Europe, starting in London during October 2008 and finishing during November 2008 in Helsinki. In November and December 2008, Disturbed toured in the United States. The song “Inside the Fire” was nominated for a 2009 Grammy Award in the “Best Hard Rock Performance” category. In March 2009, Disturbed released a music video for the single “The Night”. The band began their Music as a Weapon IV tour in March 2009 and it ended in late May. The tour, also dubbed a “festival”, featured the bands Killswitch Engage, Lacuna Coil, and Chimaira on the main stage. The band released a second cover version of Faith No More‘s song “Midlife Crisis” on the album Covered, A Revolution in Sound, which also included bands such as Mastodon, The Used, and Avenged Sevenfold. This cover of “Midlife Crisis” was originally recorded for Indestructible, but the band decided not to include it on the album.
Asylum and The Lost Children (2010–2011)
In an interview in July 2009, with FaceCulture, Draiman stated that the DVD would be “chronicling the past decade of Disturbed’s existence. It’s meant to show our growth over the course of the decade.” He also talked more about the fifth album: “A couple of [song riffs] that Danny has come up with are really amazing. But they’re just little pieces…it’s not even in two-three part progression [yet].” A few months later on March 23, 2010, the band released a reissue of their debut album, The Sickness, with the B-side tracks “God of the Mind” and “A Welcome Burden”, updated artwork, as well as remastering and remixing the track list. It was also available for the first time in vinyl format. On February 26, 2010, Harmonix announced a second Disturbed pack for download on the Rock Band music store, containing the 2010 remastered versions of “Voices“, “The Game“, and “Meaning of Life”.
The band entered the studio in Chicago in early 2010 to begin recording their fifth album, planning on a release that summer. Guitarist Dan Donegan stated that the band had written around 15–18 songs. It was later confirmed that the title of the album would be Asylum. The band released a cover of heavy metal band Judas Priest‘s song “Living After Midnight” for the Metal Hammer Presents… Tribute to British Steel album. On April 20, 2010, roughly two months after they entered the studio, Disturbed announced that they had finished recording the album, and were ready to begin mixing it in Los Angeles, California. As they did with their last album Indestructible, Disturbed stated that they self-produced Asylum. The band announced that Asylum would be released on August 31, 2010. On July 9, 2010, the track listing was revealed on the band’s official website. Asylum debuted at number one on the Billboard 200. Asylum was Disturbed’s fourth consecutive studio album to debut on top of the charts, an achievement only earned by two other bands: Metallica and Dave Matthews Band.Disturbed performing “Down with the Sickness” in 2010
Disturbed headlined the first annual “Rockstar Energy Drink Uproar” tour with Avenged Sevenfold, as well as Stone Sour, Hellyeah and Halestorm, among others in late summer 2010. Then, in October 2010, it was reported that David Draiman was diagnosed with a “serious throat condition”, and the band’s U.S. tour had been canceled, as Draiman’s healing process could have taken up to four weeks. Around the end of that year, Disturbed announced that they would be commencing the Music as a Weapon V tour in 2011, co-headlining with Korn and guests Sevendust, In This Moment and Stillwell. In January 2011, the Mayhem Festival announced that Disturbed would be headlining the festival along with Godsmack and Megadeth that summer. In February 2011, Disturbed was added to that summer’s Download Festival. Disturbed announced that in May 2011, they would be co-headlining the Rock on the Range Festival in Columbus, Ohio.
On Thursday, April 28, Disturbed announced that their previously unreleased bonus track from Asylum, titled “3”, would be available for download on their website. They said that all proceeds made from the download of the song would go towards the Damien Echols Defense Fund, a benefit foundation supporting the release of the West Memphis Three.
In July 2011, the band confirmed it would go on hiatus after finishing their US tour that year, and in an interview that same month, Draiman dismissed concerns that the hiatus was a result of conflict between the band members. Disturbed went into hiatus in October 2011. Disturbed released a b-side compilation album, titled The Lost Children, on November 8, 2011. The song “Hell” was made available for digital download on October 11, 2011, but Draiman stated on his Twitter page that there would not be a music video for it. A previously unreleased track, titled “Mine”, also appears on the album. The track listing and release date were revealed on Draiman’s Twitter page on September 20. On April 21, 2012, to commemorate Record Store Day, Disturbed released “The Collection”. It is a box set featuring the band’s five full-length studio albums in 140 gram vinyl LPs.
The band at Rock am Ring, Germany, 2016
On June 20, 2015, on Disturbed’s Facebook page and website, there was material posted hinting at a possible return of the band. The website shows a new Disturbed logo, plus a video of the band’s mascot “The Guy” appearing to be on life support, still breathing. The new Disturbed logo was also posted to their official Facebook page, along with the video of their mascot, and their profile picture changed to solid black, indicating new activity within the band. On June 22, 2015, Disturbed posted another video on Facebook, this time showing The Guy awakening from life support, as well as an 18-hour countdown on their official website, giving speculation to a definite reunion.
On June 23, 2015, Disturbed officially announced the end of their hiatus and the coming of their new album entitled Immortalized. On the same day, the official music video for the new single “The Vengeful One” was released on their YouTube channel. Immortalized was released on August 21, 2015. John Moyer did not perform on the album due to working on other projects, with all bass tracks being performed by Dan Donegan. Moyer is not in the band’s video for “The Sound of Silence” released in December 2015. Moyer remains a band member, however, having appeared in promotional photography for the album as well as continuing to perform live with the band.
On the album’s release day, the band played their first show in four years at the House of Blues in Chicago. The show featured the live debuts of four new songs (“The Vengeful One”, “What Are You Waiting For”, “The Light” and the title track) and the song “Hell”, a B-side from Ten Thousand Fists, in its entirety for the first time.Disturbed during Hellfest 2016
Disturbed released a virtual reality experience for the band’s cover of “The Sound of Silence” via Littlstar. The band released a live album titled Live at Red Rocks on November 18, 2016. The band performed “The Sound of Silence” live on an episode of Australia’s The X Factor. Disturbed was announced as a direct support to Avenged Sevenfold on their UK & European tour throughout January and March 2017, alongside In Flames and Chevelle.
Disturbed headlined the 2018 Rock Fest, along with Godsmack and Incubus. The band announced via social media in early January 2018 that they had entered the studio to begin recording their next studio album. In June 2018, lead guitarist Dan Donegan and bassist John Moyer confirmed with sources that the new album had been completed, with 100% of the songs finished, leaving only mixing and mastering to be done. Band members also posted a picture via Instagram together at a dinner party in celebration of completion of the recording process, the band’s first album in over 3 years and the band’s first album in over 8 years to have bassist John Moyer being involved in.
The album, Evolution was released on October 19, 2018. On August 16, 2018, the lead single, titled “Are You Ready” was released. On September 21, 2018, the album’s second single, titled “A Reason to Fight” was released. In support of the album, the band announced the ‘Evolution World Tour’, which took place in early 2019. The initial dates announced included shows across North America with select Canadian dates, as well as a European leg of the tour. On March 25, 2019, Disturbed announced a massive summer tour with Pop Evil and In This Moment. Pop Evil opened the first half of dates and In This Moment opened the second.
On January 27, 2020, the band announced a 31-date tour with Staind and Bad Wolves celebrating the 20th anniversary of The Sickness. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the band had postponed the tour to 2021. On September 11, 2020, Disturbed released a cover of the song “If I Ever Lose My Faith in You” by Sting. On March 12, 2021, it was announced that the 20th anniversary tour was officially canceled.