MEET ME IN THE MIDDLE
If the hipsters in Silverlake and Brooklyn don't dig the group, so be it. At this point, it knows its base, Disturbed knows what its base likes, and it'll be damned if it's going to mess with the formula. "There are many ways the new record isn't really different from the previous ones," Draiman says. "It's more complex in terms of composition, and I think the storytelling aspect of the lyrics is better. But while we always want to grow, we never want to deviate from what we fundamentally do. We make rhythmic, aggressive rock. All killer, no filler."
Battaglia says many of the band's early fans have stuck with it, and as other metal acts from the scene have broken up or fallen by the wayside, some of their fans have joined Team Disturbed. But Gordon says there are still plenty of potential converts out there, and the band and Reprise will be going after them hard.
"We want to reach out to teens, because we feel like that's the demo we're not getting as much as we'd like," Gordon says. "The base is 18- to 35-year-olds."
Gordon says the band is planning on doing more with gaming for "Asylum."
"They are the Xbox artist of the month, and we have created a game called 'Escape From the Asylum,' which will launch online in August," he says. "They've done tons of synchs in videogames, and we are releasing a three-pack for 'Rock Band' on Aug. 24, and working on something with 'Guitar Hero,' too." He says Disturbed was often synched in World Wrestling Entertainment events or ultimate fighting shows, but those outlets have recently decided they want music that's "more PG."
Disturbed will be doing a partnership with acclaimed FX TV show "Sons of Anarchy," a "Sopranos"-like drama about a motorcycle club, that includes a chance to win airfare and tickets to the band's Seattle show. It will also kick off its upcoming tour by playing the Sturgis motorcycle rally in South Dakota.
"We played Sturgis before, with the Scorpions, and it's like playing 'Mad Max,' " Draiman says. "People sit on their bikes and instead of applauding, they rev their engines." Draiman says he and some of his bandmates are Harley enthusiasts, and refutes the notion that it's odd that a Yeshiva High School graduate likes hauling around on a hog. "There are lots of us in the tribe who ride," he says with a laugh.
After Sturgis, Disturbed will co-headline the Uproar tour with Avenged Sevenfold before heading overseas. Draiman says the band has a strong base in Australia, New Zealand, Germany and Scandinavia despite having a late start abroad.
"We were initially held back in other territories because our first album was on BMG internationally, and because of some label transition issues, [breakthrough single] 'Down With the Sickness' wasn't worked overseas," he says. "But we kept working at it and caught up."
The new tour will also feature some of the most elaborate staging of the band's career, although they're quick to point out that fans expecting a Muse-style laser show will be disappointed. "They will have big screens and videos," Gordon says. "The visuals for the new album were all shot by the same person, and the shot that opens the show ties to the music video, and that ties to the online game."
As a special incentive for fans the band is including the DVD "Decade of Disturbed," a 60-plus-minute documentary chronicling the group's first 10 years, with every album purchase. The disc features concert footage, as well as a section called "Disturbed Dissected," where guitarist Dan Donegan and bassist John Moyer teach fans how to play their songs.
Hot Topic is working with the band to turn select outlets into "Asylum stores," and Gordon says he is working on partnerships with Best Buy, Target and Walmart. Rockstar Energy Drink, one of the sponsors of the Uproar tour, is also hosting a "rock star for a day" contest with Disturbed that will feature posters in Rockstar outlets.
"This is a band with an incredible work ethic," Gordon says. "We can fly them out to do meet-and-greets and they'll talk to people for ages. These guys are not complacent."