A calm precedes every storm. The reprieve remains necessary for the right energy to eventually re-ignite the elements at the appropriate time for a storm to gather. After announcing a “hiatus” in 2011, Grammy Award-nominated, multiplatinum hard rock titans Disturbed knew that their imminent
return would happen during such a moment. The members—David Draiman [vocals], Dan Donegan [guitar], Mike Wengren [drums], and John Moyer [bass]—put a plan into play. In 2010, the group’s gold-certified fifth offering, Asylum, became their fourth consecutive #1 on the Billboard Top 200, an accolade shared only with Metallica and Dave Matthews Band. They had sold out arenas everywhere on the subsequent tour, and it was time for that calm to commence.
“The idea was to leave when we were at our peak, which we were, and to come back when we felt reinvigorated,” asserts Draiman. “Everything was strategic. We wanted to give ourselves a chance to breathe, give the fans a chance to breathe, and give the culture a chance to evolve. Now is the time. The environment feels ready. The musical landscape feels ready. We’re ready.”
“We had basically been going nonstop since 1998,” says Wengren. “We got to do our things. It didn’t take too long until the itch started coming back.”
“We wanted to return when we collectively had that fire underneath us,” agrees Donegan. “We missed it so much that we could tap into this energy and deliver the right album. We did it on our own terms.”
That album, Immortalized [Reprise], initially became the best-kept secret of the group’s career. In 2013, Draiman released a top 15 record with Device’s self-titled debut, while Donegan and Wengren launched Fight or Flight with A Life By Design? Following the success of both, Draiman and Donegan decided to have dinner back in their hometown of Chicago during January 2014. Without notifying their families, friends, or label, that’s the moment they stirred the sleeping beast. However, instead of simply emailing ideas, they actually flew back and forth to each other’s respective home studios for every writing session. This is the first time they collectively wrote together since 2001.
“When the band formed, we all lived in the same city,” recalls Mike. “So, when we wrote, we would all be in the same room together. We had gotten away from that because we don’t live in the same states. There’s definitely something to be said about that chemistry and interaction when we’re together feeding off each other. We pushed ourselves to rekindle that.”
“We wanted to go back to where it started before the technology existed where you could create from across the country,” David remarks. “We were in the same space again, throwing ideas back and forth on the fly and allowing them to grow immediately. For this album, everything was written in the same room. It was wonderful experiencing how it used to be back in the day for us. That became apparent in the material, whether it was the passion of the performance, the power being harnessed, or the feelings evoked. We could feel the difference.”
Three Days Grace
Outsiders always leave enduring impressions. By veering away from the pack, these mavericks confidently lead the charge for others to follow. Since 2003, Three Days Grace has staked a spot amongst the hard rock vanguard, quietly breaking records, toppling charts, moving millions of units worldwide, and making history by holding the all-time record for “most #1 singles at Active Rock Radio ever” with 13. The Ontario, Canada quartet—Matt Walst [lead vocals], Barry Stock [lead guitar], Brad Walst [bass], and Neil Sanderson [drums, percussion, keyboards, programming]—continue to blaze that trail on their sixth full-length album, the aptly titled Outsider [RCA Records].
“To me, Outsider represents the journey to find your place,” says Brad. “The world feels crazy at times. We try to get away from that every once in a while. We do our own thing, and we’re comfortable doing it. We have always looked forward—and not backwards. That’s an ongoing theme for us here.”
“It’s what we’ve done in many ways by being on the outside,” agrees Neil. “This is all about taking a step back from life’s madness without destroying yourself, cutting everyone off, or going crazy. You get a break and find the space to create.”
That’s exactly what the musicians did in the fall of 2016. Instead of congregating in a downtown Toronto rehearsal space, they initially wrote in a converted garage behind Brad’s house located two hours from the city. Eventually, they retreated to Neil’s 90-acre farm to further hone ideas. Following daytime snowmobile trips, the guys often sat around bonfires with acoustic guitars, tapping into the wild spirit surrounding them.