David Draiman Recharges with Device

By on April 21, 2013

David Draiman is as recognizable as any other vocalist in music today and has been since 1996 as the lead singer for the multi- platinum selling band, Disturbed. On a self-imposed hiatus with the band, he has formed the band, Device.  We recently caught up with him on tour to discuss the new release, working with a variety of different musicians, religion, & the state of pirating etc.

David Draman (Photo Travis Failey RSEN)

Travis: Hi, Mr. Draiman.  How are you doing today?

Draiman: Good, yourself?

Travis: I am well, thanks. You have a new project out called Device. How did you come up with the band name?

Draiman: Well the band name came after the music. We had to find something that would fit what we had created and also find something that we could make our own that wasn’t taken. That wasn’t a legal issue, it seems like every name in the world is taken, so it was it was tough, and why Device? Device implies the following:  it implies intelligent design, it implies the utilization of technology, and it implies the explosive nature of the project and all of those are very appropriate to what we have created, I feel.

Travis: The new release has been getting a lot of regular air play on Sirius/XM’s Octane. Octane has been a huge proponent and catalyst of the hard rock/metal genre.  How has the rest of the music community taken to the new material?

David Draman (Photo Travis Failey RSEN)

Draiman: Ah, you know, it’s…I’ve been met with a tremendous amount of positivity about it. I am actually really flattered by all of the positivity that everyone has expressed over it. It has been pretty amazing, I am very thankful for everyone’s support. It’s been better than I expected it to be.

Travis:  Well, one of the reasons that you stated that Disturbed is on hiatus is the decline of the music industry. Do you believe that we are still on a decline or has an upswing occurred?

Draiman: Well that was actually a misquote. The decline of the music industry is affecting everybody. It really didn’t have anything to do with our hiatus. It just seemed to be that it was inevitable. It came up in conversation during that one article and he ended up using it as a tag line. It is unfortunate but the reason for the hiatus had nothing to do with any decline because Disturbed was at its highest point when we left. So what decline were we feeling? You know I think the reason for the hiatus was to simply step away from the monotony of the machine, from the predictability of the twelve years of make a record, tour, make a record, tour, make a record, tour and the sterility that it caused. I think it was important for us as a band, and for the fans, to just have a break from what Disturbed is and give us the opportunity for us to reinvigorate ourselves creatively and to be able to find some other creative musical outlets. It was never really my intention to make another group. It was my intention to produce and co-write with some other artists and do some other things that literally, when the Disturbed machine is running, it is impossible to find time for, because Disturbed is really an all-encompassing thing.

Travis:  I have seen your band Disturbed many times and in front of packed crowds and on huge tours and festivals, so when it was printed that you said about the decline, I was perplexed by the statement.

Draiman: Yeah. Yeah. That was really kind of taken out of context when that whole campaign began. It is part of their modus operandi, unfortunately. They have a certain message they want to go ahead and put out there and they are going to manipulate other people’s words in order to do that to serve their agenda, unfortunately. The decline of the industry wasn’t something that I needed to point out to anybody. It is apparent for anybody to see.

Travis: I have always thought that most musicians in the hard rock/ metal genre didn’t care about what people in the mainstream thought or cared about, as long as they were able to play and perform the music that they love, whether it was in front of five people or fifty thousand people.

Draiman: To an extent. To an extent. I mean every artist cares. Every artist wants to see their material be able to affect as many people as possible. The artist wants to be able to get out there and play in front of people, so you are right on one level. On another, I would say that you can definitely always count on the hard rock and heavy metal community to be there for you and for us and they always have been but you definitely always want to be able to continue to grow and affect more people. So it is kind of a double edged sword. I don’t think it is as black and white as you are describing.

Virus (Photo Travis Failey RSEN)

Travis: In my opinion, Disturbed’s song, “Ten Thousand Fists,” really captures the spirit of the hard rock/metal music community that you personally have been a part of for so many years. I find that people who aren’t part of the hard rock/metal music community don’t really understand the family mentality that comes from this culture.

Draiman: I, I would agree with you because the hard rock and heavy metal crowd is a community unlike any other. We transcend trends and we have staying power and loyalty in the fan base that is unlike any other fan base. Once you have solidified a spot in that community, you are family for life and that is something very rare, unique and precious.

Travis: I agree.  It’s an extreme brotherhood that I experienced at a young age.  I’ll never stop believing in the spirit that the music brings to us and the feeling that you get from it is an amazing emotion.

Draiman: Amen brother…

Will Hunt, hurtin’ those drums! (Photo Travis Failey RSEN)

Travis: Well let’s talk about your new album, record, release.  I keep dating myself with album and record.

Draiman: I still call them records too…

Travis: You have collaborated with a lot of artists on the new Device record including Lzzy Hale from Halestorm.  In my opinion, Lzzy is the best thing that’s come out in music in a long time.  I think she’s a cross between Pat Benatar and Joan Jet and she can crush anything she sings. The two of you worked together on the Ozzy/ Lita Ford cover “Close My Eyes Forever.”  How did that come about?

Draiman: Lzzy and I have talked about doing this version of the cover for years and I would agree with you. I think nobody touches her in modern day. As far as modern female rock stars are concerned she is the top of the top, bullet proof and has unbelievable talent and that is why we started talking about doing this. Who better to be the modern day embodiment of Lita Ford? She just nailed it. So that was something that was kind of cooking for years and years and years.

That was the only one that was planned and the others came together as a matter of destiny if you will or fate.  Serj Tankian (SOAD) and Tom Morello (Rage & Audioslave) and I are friends and have been friends for years. We often get together and have dinner when I come to Los Angeles to catch up and we had often spoken about potentially doing something together either for charity or a sound track but without respective main groups it was never an option or we never entertained the notion of having guests.

So with Device there were no preconceived notions. So I figured as long as I  already had almost the entire record mixed and completed along with my vocals, it was two days before the end of the mix and Serj had invited him, myself, and my wife, Lena, over to his house to have dinner with him and his wife and Tom came as well and I brought  Jenna with me as well and it was actually that night over dinner, literally two nights before the end of the mix that we solidified their arrangements, the parts that they would do. We decided that a portion of the proceeds from those two tracks  (“Opinion” & “Out of Line”) would go to their Axis of Justice Charity.

The next day I was invited by my friend, Glen Hughes, who I reconnected with at the Dimebash event earlier that year, at his book release and signing for his autobiography at the John Varvatos store in Malibu and went out there and did an acoustic performance and as he always does, he just nailed it with his angelic inhuman ability. I thought that since I am now entertaining the notions of guests, I think he’d sound amazing on “Through it All” so I went up to him and talk to him and he said that he would love to do it. It ended up coming up in dinner conversation that night. Myself and my wife went to dinner that night with him and his wife, Gabby, and at the table we were sitting with Glenn and his wife and Geezer Butler and Kenny Aronoff and a bunch of other esteemed and talented musicians, and it came up in dinner conversation that Glen had agreed to contribute. And Geezer asked me about it and I had known Geezer since the early (muffed word) day and he had been at the Dimebash event where we had reconnected and he asked me about it and I said “Yeah brother would you like to do a guest spot as well? We’d love to have you.”  And he said he’d love to do it. He said he’d set time aside from the Black Sabbath sessions to do it.

So within a couple of day of reconnecting with friends in Los Angeles, I suddenly had five guests on the record. With M. Shadows, with Matt, him and I had been friends for years. I felt that “Haze” could always use another very distinctive, very powerful rock voice and who is more distinctive and powerful these day than Mr. M. Shadows. I am so proud to see what they have become, the leviathan they have become, grown over the years and to become one of the dominate forces in rock these days. I am just very privileged and overwhelmed and so grateful to all of these amazing artists for their contributions on the record.

Travis: Well you bring up Avenged Sevenfold and they always put on a fantastic performance and when people ask my opinion about A7X , I always say “go see their stage show, they kill it live every time”…

Draiman: I am with you dude. They are a force to be reckoned with. No question.

Travis: You brought up working with Geezer Butler and you also completed writing with Dave Mustaine for his new release. Do you consider it an honor to be working with one of the founders of thrash metal?

Draiman: Beyond, beyond an honor. Very, very surreal the whole experience. I am so very thankful for his friendship and his support. I am beyond honored and privileged to work with him. He is brilliant and so very talented and such a good man, good heart, and lots of people misunderstand him. We all have our political leanings one way or the other and Dave has a heart of gold, regardless of whether you agree with him or not. He is ridiculously talented and a sweetheart of a man and I am very privileged to call him a friend and colleague and beyond thankful to have worked with him.

Guitarist Virus (Photo Travis Failey RSEN)

Travis: Well I believe Dave is one of the most misquoted people in the industry. I have read his auto biography and how they made those first five albums on what those guys were doing to their bodies was truly amazing to me….

Draiman: Yeah, he’s told me some of those stories it’s pretty crazy.

Travis: A lot of your early music had some underlying religious tones or statements. Where do you see the state of religion in the world today?

Draiman: It is in a frightening state. I am not a religious guy. Whenever I have actually brought up aspects of religion in the music, it is to critique it. I am a spiritual individual but I do not subscribe to organized religion per se. I definitely have been proud of my faith that I come from and the heritage that I stem from but I believe in a God and that is my own personal relationship with him. I don’t really need a bunch of passages written by some old sexist men to tell me how to live my life in a means that is antiquated and no longer appropriate for today’s times. It is just my opinion. I think religion has been the catalyst to more pain, suffering, and war than any other thing on the face of this earth.  People take their religions too far and the fanatical nature of where they can go with it. I think it can be a beautiful thing when you use it beautifully. It is not supposed to be exclusivity. It is not supposed to be something that makes you better than anyone else. There is no one path to God and everybody should really recognize that. That was the whole point to the “Believe” record was to encourage universal belief that we have more in common than we do to differentiate us.  I find it frightening and sad the lengths to which religion distorts truth, to where it distorts peoples vision, to where it makes people hate, makes people envious, makes people commit the sins they are supposed to not commit in the first place.

Travis: Music Pirating litigation against the individual is still going on and you came out a few years ago against these lawsuits. Do you still have these same opinions?

Draiman: Absolutely. I don’t think that the consumer should ever be demonized. You don’t have businesses biting the hand that feeds you. It’s all about being able to bring music efficiently and as quickly to your fan base as possible, and yet still legally.

That is why I am such a supporter of Spotify. I love the notion of having all this music available to fans just with a 3G signal or better on whatever device they are using. I love the fact the artists get compensated for it. It fosters all kinds of social discussion and collaboration and the trading of music. It’s kind of the way the technology should have been used in the first place.

So I have never demonized the consumer. I demonize the industry who didn’t see it coming and who wasn’t forthcoming enough or smart enough to think ahead. Instead of clinging to antiquated retail structure and a hard product they should have embraced technology because you can never fight it. There’s no point.

They should have been working steadfastly on the next form of technology. Instead they chose to focus all their efforts on demonizing the very people who put the bread on our table. Which is asinine. If they had negotiated with the ISPs fifteen years ago and they had built a fee into their subscription fee that everyone pays for their internet services, $2.50, $5 dollars or whatever it may be for unlimited file sharing with ads and incentives, early releases, bonuses, and you name it, everybody would have been down, no strings attached, no more demonization, and all of a sudden back then we are talking about 70 million subscribers to ISPs. 70 million times $5 dollars a month that is a whole shit ton of revenue that everybody has been missing out on.  For what? For greed. For the sake of trying to cling to a higher profit margin and to a retail structure that is antiquated and no longer relevant.

David Draman (Photo Travis Failey RSEN)

Travis: You will be playing dates on this tour, specifically the huge Welcome to Rockville Festival in Jacksonville, with Stone Sour, Corey Taylor’s band. Is there any chance that we might see you guys share the stage?

Draiman: Oh God I would love to! We will see. Maybe I can convince him to come sing on one of the songs as a guest appearance. I’ll have to talk to him about that.

Travis: He is at the top of his game.

Draiman: Yeah. He is. I am so proud of him and I really consider him so inspirational. He is just an amazing, amazing guy, a sweetheart of a guy and ridiculously talented. I wish them nothing but all the success and the continued success in the world.  It’s funny because we were just talking about it the other night with that whole Dave Grohl collaboration track came on, The Sound City Players thing on the radio, and God damn that boy is lucky. Talent breeds those situations and he has definitely got it. I have the up-most respect and admiration for him.

Travis:  You mentioned your wife Lena. She is an ex-WWE Diva. Did you guys watch any of the most recent Wrestlemania event?

Draiman: No. I am not much of a wrestling fan myself. She doesn’t really follow it anymore. I am a fan of her. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the sport for the comedic male soap opera that it is but it’s not really my thing I prefer, you know, MMA and boxing, stuff like that.

Travis: When you hear David Draiman on the radio you know its David Draiman. How did you go about developing your style?

Draiman: It just came together naturally brother. I have been married to rhythm my whole life even in projects prior to Disturbed. Now the darker tonality of my voice, forget the rhythm, being able to sing with an actual note behind it but to still have that grit and that edge was something I developed through Disturbed. It wasn’t something that I knew how to do before. So, I have to thank being in Disturbed and having that whole experience to bring that aspect out of me but I am very, very fortunate to have this identity and to be able to be recognized. It is a blessing and it is a curse too. You know no matter what when some people hear my voice on something they just automatically associate it with Disturbed which is a good thing but it’s what they should associate it with after 16 years of doing it but it can be kind of a little frustrating some times because it still sounds like me, it is still my voice, what am I going to do. If Maynard goes aheadand does Perfect Circle he still sounds like Maynard. If Corey does Stone Sour he still sounds like Corey. That is just the way it is. Thank God that we are that identifiable and we try to push ourselves in different directions and so do they with their respective projects. I am very thankful for the fact that I am as identifiable as I am.

Virus on the mic (Photo Travis Failey RSEN)

Travis: You recently produced Trivium’s new album.  Any other bands you are looking to produce?

Draiman: There has been discussions and it would be a matter of finding the time. I don’t want to go ahead and say anything till it has been solidified so I’d love to continue to produce. I love working with new artists. I love trying to get them to their next level and with Trivium, man they jumped up 10 levels. It’s ridiculous what we have created together. It really is going to be a defining moment in their career. I can’t wait to see them play the songs we have written together live.

Travis: You and my wife share the same birthday and she wishes you a happy belated.

Draiman: Happy Birthday to her as well, and thank you and the fans for their continued support.

David Draman (Photo Travis Failey RSEN)

William Hunt on the drums(Photo Travis Failey RSEN)

Virus (Photo Travis Failey RSEN)

 

 For more information on:

The Welcome to Rockville Festival http://www.welcometorockvillefestival.com/

Device  www.deviceband.com/

Halestorm www.halestormrocks.com/

Stone Sour http://www.stonesour.com/

 

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