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The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world
Dan Donegan Disturbed - Interview
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DAN DONEGAN

DISTURBED


Disturbed

It may have been a surprise for some people to see Disturbed announced as headliner of next year's Soundwave Festival but given the track record of the band who has had an astounding 5 straight number 1 records and has moved up from club shows to arenas, the band is not exactly slacking off in the popularity department. After a 4 year hiatus, Disturbed return with a brand new album titled "Immortalized" so we caught up with guitarist Dan Donegan to discuss the new songs, coming back from a long break and what fans can expect at Soundwave.

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Andrew: Thanks for your time today! We got a lot to chat about but the first thing we should touch on is obviously your upcoming appearance at Soundwave Festival which was just announced just recently so congratulations!

Dan: Thank you! We're excited, we finally have some more news to talk about. We've been sitting on this for a while of just trying to make this happen and obviously Australia is a great territory, great people. Somewhere where we always hit every album cycle so it's kind of exciting for us to be starting our album cycle in Australia while we're nice and...batteries are recharged and we're nice and fresh and just ready to come out there and hit it hard.

Andrew: The fans are pretty excited about you guys headlining the festival. It's been a number of years since you've been in Australia, do you remember the last time you were here?

Dan: Oh yeah it was great! I've talked about it many times, with us just the growth over the years through out our career of starting out in small clubs through out Australia and kind of moving up to arenas and always had a great experience there. The shows last time I remember we brought some pyro so we had big fire bursts going and video wall so it was exciting because it was our biggest production that we've brought to Australia, was our last time there. We're working on some ideas now and we'll have new production out for Soundwave so just excited to be back there and have something new to bring them.

Andrew: Yeah and it will be good to hear some of the new songs as well. Do you know how many songs you will be playing off the new album?

Dan: I'm not 100 percent sure, I wasn't told how long our set time is. I'm sure we will do a good mixture of the catalogue of songs. Hopefully it's plenty of time for us to get a good blend of everything. Now that we got, since 2000 when "The Sickness" came out up until now, there's a lot of songs to pick through so I'm just fired up just to get back up on stage. So we'll kind of go through our setlist and just feel it out of what we want to hit it with.

Andrew: Is that getting more difficult as the years go on with each album, picking out a setlist with which ones you want to bring in and which ones you want to take out?

Dan: Yeah it's a good problem to have though right? We look at our choices and I'm like, 'Wow!', there's just so many songs and so many songs that were hits for us that sometimes we got to leave some of them out because we just won't have time to do them all. But one thing we did want to make a conscious effort this time around too is...of course we're going to play some of the hits that the fans are going to be coming to see anyway, "Down With The Sickness" and "Stupify" and some of those big early hits...but I think we want to make the effort of having some stuff that's unpredictable and maybe off the beaten path a bit. Songs that we haven't played in years or maybe a few songs that we've never really played since we've written them so we kinda want to start maybe pushing it. Calling in audibles like that and bringing in songs to change it up every now and then, just give them something different that they wouldn't expect from us.




Andrew: Yeah obviously there are some fans that have probably seen you a number of times and I'm sure out of your catalogue, there are a bunch of songs that you've never played live before right?

Dan: Yeah there's a ton and it's unfortunate because there's songs that we get excited about because we're obviously writing them and we love them when we record them and then it's like we have to play a 5 hour set in order to play every single one [laughs]. So I think this time around, like I said besides playing some of those obvious hits that the fans will want, I think it might be a nice change of pace to throw in an occasional song or 2 here and there that they maybe never heard us do before.

Andrew: Just getting into the new album that came out a couple of months ago, "Immortalized", this is the first album in 5 years now so how is the feeling with you guys on these new songs and what kind of reception have you been getting from the fans and the critics?

Dan: It's been amazing! I really don't get wrapped up and get too concerned to the critics on it as much as I want to know the fans response to it, is it something that they are really connecting with. We've always been honest with ourselves, we've always written songs that mean something to us. Life experiences and either opinions or experiences, we put it out there. We wear it on our sleeve and when you write that way then you have an audience that can relate to that and connect with it. Early on when the album came out at the end of August, yeah I was checking out some of the responses. I wanted to see what the fans were thinking because it has been 5 years between recordings and I wanted to see and hope that they are still there. As loyal as they have been to us, I mean that's a long time to wait! You're always taking that chance of, do the fans move on? Have they gotten past it? They've waited too long and it's good to be reassured that our fans are that loyal that they've stuck behind us, even the traffic on our social media sites on our facebook page and twitter, our followers have gone into the millions when we weren't doing nothing when we were home! So it was great that it continued to grow even when we weren't touring and we weren't recording. We follow social media and we follow stuff like that to still be engaged with the fans and we would try to put up posts and talk to them and like I said, still be involved. They gave us this career and we're not going to walk away from them or turn our backs on them but yeah it was nice to put out new music and see that they were excited about it, ready for it and now we just can't wait to get out there and play it.




Andrew: How was the process for this album? Had much changed since the last studio effort you had done?

Dan: Yeah quite a few things changed. We all live in different states, everybody is married with kids where there's the separation of being...John (Moyer, bass) and Dave (Drainman, vocals) both live in Austin, Texas and I'm still here in Chicago and Mike (Wengren, drums) is up in Wisconsin so there's that distance between us but the thing we wanted to make the effort in doing when I first started talking to David about writing again and getting together was we wanted to make the effort of being in the room together, let's not rely on technology so much. It's a nice tool to have to get things going but we knew that the chemistry always has something magical that happens when we are in the room together in that moment, back like it was when we first formed the band when we were all here in Chicago. So I spent a couple of times going to Texas to go to his house and write and he came to my house a few times to write and it really got us connected with each other again in that sense that we could feed off the energy while we're in the room instead of just sending files back and forth through email. It's just a lot more sterile that way, you can get it done but it was just nice to kind of have that bond again. To be in that room and feel that connection again and being in the moment. You can tell when something is going somewhere, when there's that energy and you're vibing in the room and you get a reaction out of somebody. You don't get that reaction through an email so it's nice to...if I'm playing a riff and Mike is laying a beat to it and David and I see him creating in the moment and coming up with a melody, you get that energy and you feel that and you know that it's developing and going somewhere. That was definitely something we wanted to get back to and I think from this point on in our career, that was just a reminder that this is the way things need to be with us when we're writing.

Andrew: Yeah obviously it's worked for you guys very well. One of the interesting things from this whole process is the secrecy of the recording, how did you keep a lid on this whole thing? Because it wasn't really announced that you guys were in the middle of writing and recording for this album. You kept it a secret for quite a long time so was that difficult to do?

Dan: It was very difficult because once we decided we wanted to work with Kevin Churko as our producer, we wanted to try and bring somebody else in to kinda maybe make suggestions or push us in other areas and we haven't done that before since the first album. When we got in the studio, we didn't want to announce anything too soon. We didn't want the fans to get excited too soon because we didn't know how much time it was going to take, we didn't know. Being away from it for 4 or 5 years, we didn't know if it was going to be like riding a bike again if we just get back on it again and everything is great or if we were really going to struggle with it. Being away that much time, we didn't really know so we didn't put a time frame on it, we didn't want to announce anything. We just wanted to go in there with no pressure at all, with no deadline, no expectations. Let's just go in there and we just stay in there for however long it takes until we feel like we are gelling and it's developing and we're writing the best stuff we can come up with. Luckily the second we started getting the idea's out, it was like back to normal for us. It was just automatic but like I said, there was no pressure. We weren't thinking about when the next tour is or when the album is going to come out, all we were thinking about was making music and just writing music together and let's capture that moment and let's record it. So it was nice to not have any other thing in the plan other than just making the best album we can.

Andrew: And what has come out is a great set of songs and I'm glad you are happy with it and hopefully the fans love it. Hopefully we get to hear some of these new songs at Soundwave next year and it's good to see you back here again. Thanks for your time today and we will see you at Soundwave next year!

Dan: Sounds good, thanks Andrew!


soundwave festival 2016


SOUNDWAVE FESTIVAL 2016 dates

January 23rd - Brisbane
January 24th - Sydney
January 26th - Melbourne

More info on the festival can be found at Soundwavefestival.com


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Interview by Andrew "Schizodeluxe" Massie on November 5th 2015