Disturbed Returns After Four-Year Hiatus with New Album 'Immortalized': Exclusive Interview
Writing and recording in impressive, undetected secrecy during the past year and a half, Disturbed will bring its nearly four-year hiatus to a close with the Aug. 21 release of Immortalized, the heavy rock quartet's sixth studio album overall and first of new material since Asylum in 2010.
The group, which announced the hiatus in October of 2011, has just released the album`s first single, "The Vengeful One," along with an animated video by Phil Mucci. The song is available for purchase on digital platforms, and Immortalized is available for pre-order. Watch the video below.
"We always said right from day one that this was a hiatus, and it was planned and calculated and we were going away for awhile, and that it wasn't a break up, just a break," frontman David Draiman tells Billboard. Guitarist Dan Donegan adds that, "We wanted to give the fans a break, and we wanted to give ourselves a break and break up that routine so it didn't feel like it was just a machine to us of write, record, tour, do the same festival over and over. That was all great, but we just thought, 'Let's put the brakes on for a minute here. Let's walk away from it and give everyone some room to breathe and we'll come back when we're ready to come back and when we feel like we've got the strongest album we can deliver.' We were at the peak of our career and that was a tough decision to make, but we felt like it was the right one."
Work on the 13-track Immortalized (16 on a deluxe version) began at the beginning of 2014 with Draiman, Donegan and drummer Mike Wengren gathering to write songs. The group recorded the set in Las Vegas with producer Kevin Churko, Disturbed's first outside collaborator since Johnny K. worked on the group's first three studio albums. Only the group's management, immediate families and select executives at Reprise Records knew what Disturbed was up to, and the group members were even careful to avoid being spotted together in Las Vegas, Chicago (where the group formed and Donegan still lives) and in Draiman's current residence of Austin, Texas.
"It took a lot to keep things quiet," says Draiman. "It took a lot of pain and agony and white lies and deception non-disclosure agreements. How can you explain to all your friends and family that you're leaving home for four months to be in Vegas, y'know? To come up with something that you're so proud of and not be able to tell anyone about or play it for anyone is torturous, believe me." Donegan says there was "a close call" towards the end of the process when a radio convention came to town and planted at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, where he and Wengren were staying.
"We would sneak in separately, go into different doors and not be seen together and hope that nobody would spot us and blow our cover," the guitarist recalls with a laugh. "Somehow we pulled that off." Why the secrecy? "Since there was no time frame on this, we didn't want to speak too soon," Donegan explains. "We just wanted to see how the process went and not get people all whipped up and have the microscope on us while we were doing it."
In addition to working with Churko, Immortalized also found the four Disturbed members, including bassist John Moyer, in the studio together for the first time since its sophomore album, 2002's Believe. The result was an open, free-flowing collaboration, with the three instrumentalists contributing to the lyrics and Draiman weighing in on the playing. "This was definitely the biggest collaboration we ever had," Donegan says. "Lyrically we were all involved, musically we were all involved. Everybody opened up and said, 'Let's accept all ideas and just take the best of the best." The result is plenty of Disturbed trademarks such as "The Vengeful One," "Never Wrong," "Who Taught You How to Hate" and the title track, whole songs such as "Fire It Up," "The Light" and an ethereal, spooky cover of Simon & Garfunkel's "The Sound of Silence" venture into some new sonic territory.
"There's a lot of new and fresh in the mix," Draiman says. "We had more input on each other's parts than we probably ever had previously. Everything was really put under the microscope and everybody had an opinion, and believe me everyone was voicing them loudly. You get all these very, very alpha type of mentalities all in one room together, all being very, very cocksure about what they want to do and how they want to do it. There were fireworks on an occasion or two, but I must say everyone was very, very decent and open and willing to try anything anyone suggested at any point in time. We were very, very cooperative with one another, very professional the entire time -- not that we haven't always been, but especially this time."
Touring to support Immortalized is up in the air right now. Because the project was kept so quiet, Disturbed's management and agents have not been in contact with promoters to talk about potential dates. Hopefully once the single drops and we announce (the album) the discussions can start happening and we can see what the game plan is," Donegan says. "I'm not sure how soon we can get back out there -- how much notice we're going to need or what tours we're going to want to do and put together, or what seems like the right time for us to go back on the road. But we're all excited and dying to get back out there and get on stage and play these new songs and the old stuff. I look forward to that."
All of the group members' other endeavors -- Draiman's Device, Donegan and Wengren's Fight Or Flight, Moyer's involvement with Adrenaline Mob and Art Of Anarchy -- are on hold for now. And with sure signs that the band's been missed -- Draiman points out that Disturbed's Facebook page went from 6.5 million likes to 10.5 million likes during the hiatus -- the group is confident there's an appetite for its return. "I think that hunger for what we do and people's desire for it has grown," Draiman says. "We're feeling good. We're reinvigorated. We got to be human beings for a little while and spend some time with our families. Now we're just chomping at the bit to get back out there and play with a reinvigorated strength, a reborn kind of thing."
The full track list for "Immortalized" includes:
1. "The Eye Of The Storm"
3. "The Vengeful One"
4. "Open Your Eyes"
5. "The Light"
6. "What Are You Waiting For"
7. "You’re Mine"
9. "Save Our Last Goodbye"
10. "Fire It Up"
11. "The Sound of Silence"
12. "Never Wrong"
13. "Who Taught You How To Hate"
15. "Legion of Monsters"*
16. "The Brave And The Bold"*
* Deluxe Only