Disturbed

  • Alternative Heavy Metal band formed in 1994 from Chicago Illinois. The early members were David Draiman (frontman, lead vocals), Dan Donegan (guitars, keyboards, backing vocals), Steve Kmak (bass guitar) and Mike Wengren (drums, backing vocals). John Moyer replaced Kmak on bass (and backing vocals) in 2003. All members contributed to songwriting.
  • Donegan, Kmak and Wengren formed a band called Brawl in 1994, along with vocalist Erick Awalt. All of the members grew up listening to metal bands like Kiss, Metallica and Iron Maiden. In 1996, they recorded a demo tape – soon after, Awalt chose to leave the group. The remaining members put an ad in a Chicago music magazine, seeking a vocalist. Draiman answered the ad and auditioned after trying out for 20 other bands earlier in the month. He was immediately invited to join after his audition, and he left his job as an administrator at a health care facility. Draiman suggested that they rename the group Disturbed, since it symbolized everything they were feeling at the time.
  • The band developed a following in South Chicago over the next couple of years. In 1999, they recorded two demo tapes of three songs each, which eventually led to their signing with a record label. They released their debut album in 2000 – The Sickness. The album slowly grew in popularity as the band toured to support the album. Singles from the album included Stupify, which reached #12 on the Mainstream Rock chart, and Down With the Sickness, which reached #5 on the same chart. As later albums increased their success, more people bought the debut album, and eventually it was certified 5x platinum, their best selling album.
  • Their next five albums from 2002 to 2015 each would be a #1 album on the Billboard 200 album chart. 2002’s Believe and 2005’s Ten Thousand Fists each were certified 2x platinum, with eight singles that were in the top 10 of the Mainstream Rock chart, including their first #1 song, Land of Confusion (a cover of the 1986 Genesis hit). Between 2008 and 2011, they would have two more #1 hits with Inside the Fire and Another Way to Die, and three #2 hits with Indestructible, The Night and The Animal. 
  • After finishing their U.S. tour in 2011, the band took a break and went on hiatus. In 2014, Draiman, Donegan and Wengren met secretly and they decided to write together again. This led to an official restart of Disturbed (without Moyer, who had commitments with other projects). The following year, they released their album Immortalized (with Donegan handling both guitar and bass). It was a return to a classic heavy metal sound. All four singles from the album topped the Mainstream Rock chart, including their cover of Simon & Garfunkel’s 1965 classic, The Sound of Silence. The version by Disturbed was a crossover hit, charting at #42 on the Hot 100, and it became a signature song for the group. Paul Simon himself praised their version (see my September 3, 2017 “Awesome” post for more information and to watch the video).
  • While not participating in the Immortalized album, Moyer rejoined the group soon after its release. In 2018, they released their Evolution album. Three more songs topped the Mainstream Rock chart – Open Your Eyes, Are You Ready and A Reason to Fight. 
  • As metal bands go, I find Disturbed to be more “listenable” than most. They rock with the best of them, yet their headbanging is just enough. And speaking of headbanging…here’s their first big hit, Down With the Sickness.

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