Metal band Disturbed takes nothing for granted

Sat Aug 21, 2010 12:23am EDT
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By Cortney Harding

NEW YORK (Billboard) - Dave Draiman should be relaxed.

After all, he's calling from sunny San Francisco, where he's enjoying a beautiful summer day with his girlfriend before he embarks on a yearlong tour with his band, Disturbed.

The group's last three albums have all debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, and unless Susan Boyle releases a surprise last-minute record August 31, its fifth album, "Asylum" (Reprise), will probably do the same.

Disturbed has sold 9 million albums domestically in the past 10 years, and almost half that number can be attributed to its breakthrough record, 2000's "The Sickness," which has sold 4.2 million copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan. But the band has been remarkably consistent, even as sales have trended downward: 2002's "Believe" sold 1.8 million, 2005's "Ten Thousand Fists" sold 1.9 million, and 2008's "Indestructible" sold 1.1 million.

The act has built a solid tour following, and has a fan base renowned for its loyalty and longevity. Disturbed fans are known for not only sticking with the band, but for passing fandom along, as evidenced by the crowd-surfing elementary schoolers who attend shows with their parents and appear in the forthcoming DVD, "Decade of Disturbed."

But despite all of this, Draiman is not mellow. "I'm always worried," he says. "About everything."

While he's funny and friendly on the phone, a quick read of Draiman's lyrics reveals that his band's name is appropriate. Topics tackled on the new record include "being trapped in the prison of your own mind," losing a lover, religion as a catalyst for war, and the Holocaust. The album's lightest track, "The Animal," is about becoming a werewolf, but don't expect it to show up in any "Twilight" fan videos anytime soon.

Worrywart nature aside, though, Draiman has a right to be concerned. While metal is considered one of the last genres not beset by fair-weather fans and an over-before-it-begins blog hype cycle, that doesn't mean it's not without its fair share of problems. For an astute businessman and long-timer like Draiman, the challenges are very real.   Continued...