Disturbed Talk Soundwave Cancellation, Coming Back From Hiatus & Their Upcoming Australian Tour

American legends of hard rock Disturbed formed way back in 1996 after the band initially formed under the name Brawl. They became Disturbed after vocalist and frontman David Draiman was hired, and have gone on to play countless tours and record six full-length studio albums over their two decades of existence.

In 2011, the band announced they would go on an indefinite hiatus, and during this time various members of the band pursued a range of other projects. A B-side compilation album was released, along with a box set called The Collection featuring the band’s five studio albums in 140 gram vinyl LPs.

Disturbed reunited on June 22nd 2015 via a Facebook post showing mascot ‘The Guy’ on life support, still breathing, and finally waking up. Then, after five long years, they finally released an album Immortalized, and after initially aiming to tour Australia with this year’s failed Soundwave festival, the band have now announced a string of dates across capital cities in November this year.

We caught up with their drummer Mike Wengren to talk about prioritising a new tour in the wake of Soundwave’s failure to go ahead, what it was like coming back to Disturbed after such a long hiatus, and his thoughts on the incident recently in Dallas where frontman Draiman called out an audience member for texting during the encore…

Music Feeds: You’ve just announced a bunch of shows in Australia, you guys must be pretty excited to get down here again?

Mike Wengren: We absolutely are. We love it down there and we miss the fans, miss the country and can’t wait to get back down.

MF: You’ve toured Australia a few times now. What do you like about coming over?

MW: The fans are number one. The fans are just so energetic and appreciative when we come there. It’s a little bit of a logistical issue for us to figure out how to get over with the flights and bringing the gear but it’s worth everything that we put into it just because we love playing there, and it’s just a beautiful country.

MF: You were originally going to be touring over here early in the year for Soundwave. How disappointed were you guys that it never went ahead?

MW: We were pretty devastated about that. We were really looking forward to playing such a large bill with so many other bands but sometimes things just don’t work out. So we made it our priority at that time to try and regroup and figure out when the next time was that we could try and make it over.

MF: Your last album, Immortalized, came out after a long hiatus for you guys. What triggered the end of the hiatus?

MW: Honestly we just missed it. We decided to take the hiatus and went and live out personal lives, I had another child, a son. David got married and he had a son. We just missed the creativity, we missed playing together, we missed the fans. So we started to casually talk and say maybe it was time to get together and start the writing process again and see where we were at.

MF: Was it different coming back after such a long time in terms of writing new music?

MW: I think the time away served us well. I think we missed each other, and it enabled us to refresh. We also decided to go back and do it the way we did it in the beginning. The last few records we’re obviously still very proud of, but we moved away from each other several years ago. We don’t live in the same cities or even the same states. So for us, when we would write we would just send files back and forth and it was a great process, it enabled us to keep working and put our new material. But I think we felt after taking the break that things had become a little too stagnant, and a little too predictable.

So when we decided to get back together we had to work out a way to be in the same room together and harness the energy feeding off each other. Being able to have that reaction right away when we were writing something. So that’s what we did, we secretly got together over at Danny [Donegan’s] house and we just started throwing some ideas back and forth. It reminded us of what it was like back in the old days before we even had a record deal. I think we harnessed that energy and kept moving forward with it.

MF: During the hiatus you had your own side project Fight Or Flight. Is that something you’ll continue to pursue?

MW: Well I’m very proud of that project and I know Danny is as well. It’s something that I would never say I would shut the door to, but right now it’s 100% Disturbed. We have to focus, I’m more of a one track minded person, I can’t be juggling projects back and forth. I think when we decided what we want to be working on we needed to put everything into it that we can. I think the fans deserve that and the music deserves it. So we haven’t really talked about [Fight Or Flight], I would say the door’s not closed, but at this point it’s nothing but Disturbed right now.

MF: Having done that project, how did it change you as a musician?

MW: All the years of playing together with Disturbed, with that unique sound, it was great to get away from that. It almost felt like we had a little bit more freedom. People weren’t expecting anything from us with the new project so we were free to do whatever we wanted; I think that also enabled us to keep that attitude when we came back to Disturbed. We were able to try some new things that we then brought back to the writing process and the performances with Disturbed.

For example in the past Dan and I never sung any harmonised vocals. That was something that we started to do with Fight Or Flight and we thought it would be a good idea, to bring that back. So Immortalized is the first record that we’ve tracked backing vocals for, and we’re singing a lot more live as well. I don’t know that we would have ever done that if we hadn’t done the side project.

MF: After the hiatus, your comeback was announced via an animation of your mascot ‘The Guy’ on life support on your website. What was the idea behind that?

MW: I can’t remember who came up with that specific idea, but we just thought it would be a real fun way; the hardcore fans knew right away what was going on. We thought it would be a fun way to tease everybody and alert that we were coming back. Nowadays with social media everything is practically instant gratification so it became a challenge for us to keep it a secret. When it was time to announce we decided to have a bit of fun with it.

MF: There was a bit in the media recently about the incident with the show in Dallas, where David called out a woman for texting on her phone during the show. Tell us about it from your perspective?

MW: I don’t see a lot back there from behind the drums so I didn’t see much of what was happening until we walked out and he started to address her. So I didn’t really have much of a view of it.

MF: Were you surprised with the amount of media attention it got?

MW: I guess on one end I was surprised at how much attention it’s been given, but on the other end I guess with social media you never know what’s going to come out or what’s going to blow up. I think there’s other things I wish were getting more attention, little more positive things. But people are always looking for a story.

MF: She said in an interview, “Rock stars wouldn’t be where they are without people who come to pay for the show. Whether I had my eyes on him or not, I am still there and I can hear them.” How do you respond to that?

MW: I supposed there’s two sides to every story. When a fan spends hard-earned money to come and see us perform that’s certainly their right. But at the same time we have had experiences before with people being in the front row and not paying attention.

When you’re up on stage and you’re giving the audience all your energy it can definitely be frustrating when you’re not getting that back in return. I think it’s just unfortunate the misunderstanding that happened between David and the fan. From my understanding she’s been a long-time fan and is pretty upset obviously, and I’m sorry that was the case.

Disturbed’s Australian tour kicks off 9th November, grab all the dates and details below!

Disturbed 2016 Australian Tour

Tickets on sale for Frontier members here from Wednesday, 6th April at 12 noon AEST to Thursday, 7th April at 12 noon AEST.

Tickets on sale to the general public from 12pm local time, Friday, 8th April.

Wednesday, 9th November

HBF Stadium, Perth

Tickets: Ticketmaster

Saturday, 12th November

Margaret Court Arena, Melbourne

Tickets: Ticketek

Sunday, 13th November

Hordern Pavilion, Sydney

Tickets: Ticketek

Tuesday, 15th November

Entertainment Centre, Brisbane

Tickets: Ticketek

Friday, 18th November

Vector Arena, Aukland

Tickets: Ticketmaster

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