The guitarist balances family, fun and the metal band’s fifth straight No. 1.
Aug. 22 Donegan gets to his suburban Chicago home at 4:30 a.m. after partying at House of Blues: “White Russians plus shots of Fireball and Jager,” says the 47-year-old of what was downed in honor of Disturbed’s first show and album (Immortalized, released Aug. 21 on Reprise) in four years. He crashes for two hours, then wakes to take son Jason, 8, to his football game. Oh, and Donegan is the coach: “I kept my sunglasses on.”
Aug. 23 Donegan heads to Best Buy to cop Disturbed’s new record. “It seems silly, but it’s tradition,” he says. He also scores a fresh Madden title for Xbox: Four of Jason’s friends are on their way over to the house for a sleepover. They end up being more interested in the Bulls-themed basketball court outside.
Aug. 24 Burgers fortify the Donegan clan for a day of pigskin practice — wife Nicole coaches cheer, and daughter Maya, 11, is on the squad. A huge Disturbed banner flaps menacingly above the field. “Visiting teams are freaked out by that,” he says. The band is a sponsor.
Aug. 25 Summer is ending, so it’s ice cream all around. “Being a dad is the greatest thing in my life,” says Donegan, but work is calling. He takes a meeting about a 2016 tour with hopes of going back to Japan.
Aug. 26 He gets Maya on a school bus by 6:45 a.m. It’s not easy. “She has to pick her outfit, fix her hair… do girl things,” he says with a groan. A reporter comes over to profile him in his element, which includes eating fried pickle spears at a local bar.
Aug. 27 Stock woes inspire an emergency meeting with his finance man, who talks him down. By phone, he and singer David Draiman review the music video treatment for “The Light,” to be shot in Florida by Culley Bunker.
Aug. 28 Disturbed gets word that Immortalized will be its fifth straight LP to debut at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, putting the band in elite company: “It’s just us, Metallica and Dave Matthews,” says Donegan. “To take time off, then find out the fans are as rabid as ever, is overwhelming.” He and Nicole celebrate with a rare meal alone: sandwiches at their favorite deli.
This story originally appeared in the Sept. 19 issue of Billboard.