Heavy Metal Interview:
Exclusive Interview with Dan Donegan of Disturbed
JB Martell & Heavy Metal Momma
June 2, 2009
We Love Metal Dot Com
Interview: Dan Donegan Lead Guitarist of Disturbed.
Halifax, Nova Scotia
Disturbed Wardrobe & Hospitality Suite
May 30th & 3:45 pm
We Love Metal: This is JB Martell and Heavy Metal Momma of We Love Metal Dot Com sitting down with Dan Donegan Lead Guitarist of Disturbed and founding member.
Basically how our website works is we are fans for fans and we don't get into technical questions and we hate categorizing bands, we just love Metal. We do anything from Disturbed to Motley Crue, anything people would consider Metal.
With that being said a lot of people in our internet circle call Disturbed NU Metal, do you consider yourself NU Metal?
Dan: Well I think we got lumped in that category because we came out at the same time that category was added and a lot of these bands started to come out in the late 90s is the same time that we go signed. We were fortunate to have outlasted that by riding that wave and showed that we have always been influenced by the classic Metal bands, so their was nothing NU Metal in our minds about what we were doing. NU Metal to me at the time was bands that were incorporating turntables and little bits of Hip Hop with Metal guitars and drumming and I respect some of those bands that did it… I was fans of some of those bands that did it, but the bands that inspired us to pick up an instrument were the first bands, Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Pantera, Metallica, Queensryche, those were always guitar based riff driven, double bass, hard, slamming, powerful melodic vocals. Those are the ingredients that we have.
I guess we have always just viewed ourselves as a Metal band trying to expand and follow in the footsteps of the greats.
We Love Metal: I guess that's why we asked it because a lot of people will group you in with Korn and Slipknot… and respect for those bands but?
Dan: And there is respect, we have toured with those bands and are fans of them. Korn at the time was revolutionary in bringing the 7 string D-tuned guitars in. You know that's their thing and that was something new that they were bringing to the table and a lot of the newer bands were starting to follow that lead. Slipknot obviously with nine members in the band is more of a chaotic show there and percussive. I mean that's their thing, they had their own little niche, their own thing.
With us we were relying basically on what we were brought up on and that fact that David is one of the only singers in my mind, one of the few singers that is very melodic and rhythmic in his vocal styles as well. I think a lot of NU Metal bands didn't offer much melody, there was a lot of monotone vocals and a lot of screamers. Some are very good at it, but our preference was to bring something your going to be able to hum the melody to when you leave a show or listen to an album.
We Love Metal: Do you think those classifications are hurting Metal sales? Like if you get classed as Metal do you think that is hurting you on a mass scale?
Dan: I really don't put that much thought into it. I don't care, you know we just write music that is right for us. Whatever category someone feels comfortable putting us in, you know they can go ahead, but I never really bothered looking at it that way of where do we fit in because people are confused of where does Disturbed fit. Now a day Heavy Metal, it seems the term is changing quite a bit. Like I said when we were growing up Heavy Metal were those classic Metal bands, today's Heavy Metal at times seems to be who can play the fastest or scream the loudest or have the most monotone vocals. That's not what I remember Heavy Metal being to me. There were always different divisions of Heavy Metal be it Hardcore or Death Metal or Black Metal, so you know I never really worried about what category we fit in or where we fit in. As long as we wrote music that moved the four of us in the room and we got a chill up our spine when we created it then that's all I was ever concerned about.
We Love Metal: This week we have done a whole Disturbed week on the page of different stories we have looked up and talked about. Something that you and Dave are quite vocal about is the record industry and no offence to present company (a rep of Warner Music was in the room at the time) their seeming inability to adapt to people. With that being said Disturbed is multi-platinum with all albums. Do you think its your fan bases hardcore loyalty that causes them to continue to buy the material?
Dan: Sure I mean definitely the fan base, definitely you know not to pat ourselves on the back to much but when we create out songs when we put out and album we give them nothing but the best we have to offer from start to finish. I think some of the other bands don't put forth that effort. I think there is a lot of filler on other albums and bands that are only concerned about their two or three singles or whatever it might be. You know I like the whole body of work. I'm an old school thinker of hoping that fans don't only download a single. I hope they appreciate the first song to the last song and find some sort of connection within there. My biggest flattering thing for me personally is when someone comes up and names a song that is not a single that they connected with that has become a favorite of theirs. I mean they are all important to us. We work hard and we put just as much attention into the last song of the album or a song that stays off the album that is always a tough decision for us to make, but it gets an equal amount of attention as whatever our first single might be. That's just always been our attitude of trying to create the best stuff at that point in our lives.
We Love Metal: Can you tell us a little bit about the bootleg series?
Dan: It was just kind of an idea that we thought would, now with today's technology of cameras and cell phones that people are always going to have a way to videotape your show and your performance and its going to be on YouTube the next day. You know there is no way to stop that so we thought we might as well spend a few bucks and record and give them a better audio of the show so they can have something to remember the show by other then an overly distorted cell phone recording that is not too flattering to begin with. We figure at least this way we will record some of the shows and we'll try to offer it to the fans for the ones that are there and take away what they experienced that night. Fans that might not have been able to attend because they were a little to far way or whatever it will give them something of a taste of it.
We Love Metal: You can find that at disturbed1.com I believe it is.
Dan: Yeah, I believe there is a link to that.
We Love Metal: Now since we found out we were going to be interviewing you. I saw an amazing interview where you were talking about bringing your family on the road. Like I said earlier, all four of us (on the We Love Metal Team) are very family oriented. We own a small family business besides this. Is that still going on?
Dan: Yeah, yeah. Anytime I'm in the US or Canada I've been fortunate to bring them out with me. You know I got my wife and my five-year-old daughter and my son will be two in June. That's just where I'm at in my life.
I'm a family man now and a musician and I need to find a balance. If anything its been inspiring to the other guys. Mike our drummer, his wife is pregnant, she's due in November. John or bass player, his son will be two in late October and he has an adopted daughter as well that's a little bit older, but were just getting to that point in our lives where we want family and someone else outside of the band to share our experiences with. The guys are very supportive of it and like I said if anything it's a way or something for them to look up to by knowing there is a way in this crazy life that we live to have a little normalcy. We see that we can always do the best we can with it, it might not always be the ideal circumstances, but for me I have two choices: I either have my kids not know who I am because were out on the road touring so much or I have them in my life and I need them in my life. That's why I had them in the first place. So it's a challenge each time as they get older. My daughter will be going to school fulltime next fall and the next time we come around to touring on the next album cycle we will have to figure it out. It's a balancing act. A challenge.
We Love Metal: And for every parent. Obviously its quite a different situation. Do you find it hard to keep the energy up. I mean a five year old is a lot of work. She's getting to the age where…
Dan: She is a lot of work, but yeah, I definitely think the fans give me the energy. They are the energy. As much as we tour and as hard as we work out here on the road it beats your body up and tires you out sometimes. But the second the lights go down and you hear the roar of the crowd it definitely gets your adrenaline going. Specially when were in parts of the world that we haven't been before if more… like this being our first time here in Halifax is something we look forward to because it's a new audience and we have to go out there and earn it. They haven't been given the opportunity to see us so its like a lot of other territories, we have to make our mark. We know they are going to show up because they are fans and we want to keep them. We want to be able to come back so that energy level definitely steps up once the lights go down and we hear the crowd.
We Love Metal: We last year saw you at Heavy MTL in Montreal. I don't know if you remember the show. You were on just before Motley Crue. Do you find it… I guess the question is what's the difference between the 30,000 you had in front of you there and the 5 to 6000 that will be in the house tonight? Does it change things?
Dan: You know it doesn't really. A lot of times its great to mix it up and have some of those festival environments and have those large crowds, no doubt about it. The more people the better. But this goes back to being in a place that we haven't been to before, if its 3000, 4000, 5000, its still people that are excited about it, their hungry for it, it makes us hungry, makes us excited.
Its just another reminder if we do small clubs, I mean there's parts of the world that we'll go… Were doing a show in Croatia in June that's going to be a 1000 seater. Were not used to doing that small of a room because of the success we have achieved throughout Canada, the US, and other parts of the world, but those 1000 seats are a reminder and gets you hungry again. Your reminded you still have to work for it, you still have to earn it.
We Love Metal: The energy would be amazing in that room.
Dan: Yeah, it's great.
We Love Metal: You've been on the road with All That Remains, Skindred, and Art of Dying. You guys are obviously the most commercially successful of them, with no disrespect to the bands. Do you find you are taking on a mentoring role with them?
Dan: I think with every band were out touring with, when you spend time with a lot of talents and musicians you learn a lot from each other. You know its not that were just strictly the teacher, even as the headliners you pick up little things from other bands. Everyone is talented out here. When were out on tour and we do these festivals in Europe your on the same bill as Metallica, or Judas Priest and them you are sharing the stage with some of those bands you look at them and ask what do we need to do to get to that level to have that long of a career. I think we all definitely learn from each other.
I mean I notice other bands might have toured with us and they see us in that headlining spot and we bring a bigger production show, we've become and arena sized band. They definitely see that and ask themselves the same question: you know what do we do to get to that level to have that kind of audience. We have the most dedicated hardcore fan base. I'm amazed to see the wide age range of fans that we have brought out to the show. So its good to know that when we see younger faces we have been at this for a good solid ten years and were still tapping into a new generation of people.
We Love Metal: I'm going to ask just one final question. Its one from the up and coming band Worshyp. If you could go back in time and see any band with the wave of a wand, what band would it be?
Dan: God, lets see!
We Love Metal: Seeing as you have been on stage with most of the classics now.
Dan: Yeah, its great that everyone had reunited and gone back out on the road. So we've gotten to share the stage with almost everyone we have ever dreamt of. One band I think I would have loved to seen the whole original line-up would be probably Led Zeppelin. I mean with John Bonham it would have been great to witness them in their hay day. There a great, one of the best rock bands out there. Like I said we have been fortunate for all of my favorite Metal bands to be able to still share the stage with them, but probably Zeppelin because it will never happen.
We Love Metal: Thank you so much, it's been an honor.
We would like to thank Disturbed, specially Dan and John Poirier of Warner Music for a great interview and a drag out kick ass show that night.
Audio to follow soon.
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