Being an opening act is a miserable existence. They aren't permitted to play as long or loud as the headliner. The vast majority of the audience came to see the top billed act which means the opener is regularly on the receiving end of catcalls or worse. Often the biggest applause or cheer they get is when they thank the headliner for bringing them on the tour. Even so, being an opening act is still the best way to get in front of people.
For the headliner, opening acts are often looked at with suspicion. Rock is filled with stories of how an unknown group blew the star attraction off the stage. So Disturbed's sharing a live album, "Music As A Weapon II" documenting their '03 tour, with their opening acts, Chevelle, Taproot and Unloco, was a major act of generosity from a group that had been there.
Disturbed's vocalist David Draiman, born to a deeply religious family, rebelled. Gentle, and even some harsh attempts to straighten little David out, failed. So off to boarding school he went. That'll get him on the right path! But it didn't. Draiman's behavior got him expelled. Off to another school, only to be expelled again. This cycled repeated itself a total of six times. Six times! Rebelled and expelled - talk about your perfect Metal credentials! By the end of the experience Draiman had collected a disturbingly vast reservoir of angst, anger and frustration waiting to be unleashed.
Meanwhile, three Chicago friends Dan Donegan (guitar), Fuzz (bass) and Mike Wengren (drums) were thrashing about looking for the right combination. They hooked up with Draiman in '97 and began working the South Side club circuit. A demo tape sent to Giant Records did the trick with the group inking a deal and releasing their debut "The Sickness" containing "Down With The Sickness." '02 saw the arrival of "Believe."
"Personal differences" caused Fuzz to depart in '03. He was initially replaced by Matt Konopinski. But he turned out to be a short-timer so John Moyer entered the picture. Disturbed's live "Music As A Weapon II" with the aforementioned tracks from their opening acts hit in '04.
A year later, the group unleashed their third studio album, "Ten Thousand Fists." According to Draiman, "it seems to fuse the brutality and darkness of "The Sickness" with the melodic nature and complexity of "Believe." The combination struck a chord with the public. "Ten Thousand Fists" topped the Billboard 200 chart after selling 238,000 copies during its first week of release.
Known for anguished/angry lyrics lashed to a bone-rattling guitar, it was odd that one of Disturbed's best known songs was a cover of Genesis' "Land Of Confusion." The fourth single from "Ten Thousand Fists" was not one of the best from the Phil Collins-led iteration of Genesis but Disturbed actually turned it into something impressive. Of course, it reached #1 on Billboard's Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks chart in November of '06. Yet that was not enough for Draiman. "To be honest with you, I expected it to (do) better," said the singer. "I had hopes for it -- multi-format, not simply at the active (Rock) format, especially with the rotation of (the) video."
Disturbed completed the first leg of their '06 "Music As A Weapon Tour" but decided not to embark on a second leg choosing to return the studio to work on their fourth album, "Indestructible."
Just prior to the album's release Disturbed played "Into the Fire," the lead single, at Spike TV's Guys Choice awards in Culver City, CA.
"Indestructible" arrived in June, '08. "I don't think I've seen a reaction . . . like we've had to this record since ('00's debut) 'The Sickness'," said Draiman. "I think that people are in for one hell of a wild ride." Draiman hit the mark. "Indestructible" made its debut at #1 on the Billboard 200 chart. Selling 252,000 copies in its first week, the album marked the third straight time the group had topped the survey.
Disturbed began work on "Asylum," their fifth album in early '10. As with "Indestructible," the set, released later in the year, was self-produced. 'This record shows a certain degree of maturation and enhanced complexity," claimed Draiman. "It preserves the elements of what we do but at a more advanced level."
"Asylum" made its debut #1 on the Billboard 200 chart. Selling 179,000 copies in its first week it became the band's fourth consecutive chart topper. Disturbed was only the third group, following Metallica and the Dave Matthews Band, to achieve that feat.
Each CD included a card for online access to the documentary 'Decade Of Disturbed.' Nice way to promote CD sales - like it needed it.
Amid reports that Disturbed wouldn't tour for personal reasons in the coming year, they released a b-side compilation album titled "The Lost Children." The '11 set made its debut at #13 on the Billboard chart. Despite this relative success, Draiman announced that the band was on 'hiatus' until further notice.
Just months later, Device, a group consisting of Draiman and former Filter guitarist Geno Lenardo, was formed.
It may have taken some time but Disturbed returned. "Immortalized" was the band's first album in nearly five years. The '15 release was recorded in Las Vegas with producer Kevin Churko (Ozzy Osbourne, Five Finger Death Punch). The set featured the track "The Vengeful One" and a cover of Simon & Garfunkel's "The Sound Of Silence."
"Immortalized" sold 93,000 albums in its first week to become the group's fifth #1 album on The Billboard 200 chart. Metallica and the Dave Matthews Band are the only other bands to have scored five consecutive #1 albums.
Disturbed Sidebar I: There's an old joke about a kid who's always getting into trouble and doing lousy in school. His parents try private school after private school but to no avail. Finally, in desperation they send their prodigy to a Catholic school, even though they're not of that faith. Immediately, the kid's grades improve and so does his attitude. Stunned, the kid's parents ask what's up. Their offspring answers, "Man, when I walked into that classroom and I saw that guy hanging from the cross I knew they meant business!" Maybe Draiman's parents should have taken that route.
Disturbed Sidebar II: Draiman's experience raises an interesting question: Are Rockers born or are they created? Are some people natural outsiders, with a mean streak and a chip on their shoulder or do the compound effects of life's cruel circumstances drive them to wail at the top of their lungs? Ponder that one.
Disturbed Sidebar III: In '05 both Disturbed and Trapt released albums. Here's a fun game you can play with friends. Go on CD Universe (www.cduniverse.com) and listen to samples of Disturbed's "Ten Thousand Fists" and Trapt's "Someone In Control." Then the next day try to tag the following songs with the correct group.
5. I'm Alive
6. Skin Deep
8. Use Me To Use You
For the record the odd numbered titles are Disturbed and the even ones are Trapt.
2000 The Sickness
2005 Ten Thousand Fists
2011 The Lost Children