Disturbed & Disturberer

Ozzfest mates Disturbed and Chevelle prove balance and metal can mix

The reaction Draiman got from the majority of the two million fans who snatched up Disturbed's 2000 debut The Sickness, however, was more along the lines of, "Hey man, my parents kicked my butt, too!" They may have missed the far-reaching symbolism Draiman was trying to couch his pain in, but they got where he was coming from anyway.

"It's kind of weird, because I try to write these songs cryptically, so that it's open to self-interpretation," he says. "But then, so many people take the songs literally. I mean, what do you do about all these kids who are thanking you for dealing with abuse in one of your songs, when that really wasn't the point?

"There were so many kids who found greater meaning in the literal notion of thinking that it was about a specific abuse situation, that I finally had to let go of my grander notions and just say Have at it.' I'm not going to tell you what this song should make you feel. If that's how it makes you feel, and it helps you deal with that situation and come to terms with it, then use it. That's what music is for."

"It's incredibly frightening": Disturbed copes with life one pop hit at a time.
"It's incredibly frightening": Disturbed copes with life one pop hit at a time.

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The payoff for Draiman is when Disturbed plays his universalized psychodramas in concert for thousands of fans and they sing back his words in a humongous chorus of shared emotional wreckage.

"Once you've tasted that whole sensation of being onstage and playing live to an audience of people who want to hear you, who relate to what you're saying and feed you all of their energy, it's the single most intoxicating sensation you've ever felt," he says. "We're addicts of it -- we need it, as often as possible."


For Sam Loeffler and his brothers Pete and Joe, the most tortuous part of creating hits in a genre ruled by angry emotions is sometimes just finding enough things to be angry about.

"Geez, as far as problems go, everyone every day has problems," Sam says. "You know, whether they're money problems, relationship problems. Girlfriend, fiancé, wife. I mean, we can pull from any of those things -- if we want to write about bad things.

"But lately, it's like we've gotten to the point where a lot of our issues are about how we've dealt with our business of just being a band," he continues. "And what that's been like: Signing contracts, trying to figure out where you're getting screwed on the contract. You know, stuff like that."

It's not exactly the stuff of searing hatred-with-hooks new metal. But then, Chevelle's strength seems to lie more in generating the mainstream sound of aggression, rather than working through the issues that create the need to express it. Despite their goody-goody roots, the three heavy metal fans seem to have developed an excellent ear for how anger should sound.

"We try to write heavy songs because that's what we like -- that's what we're into and what we hear in our heads," says Sam. "We're all about powerful melodies. I love big choruses and anthemic things that people can sing along to, without having them be cheesy."

Chevelle's breakout hit, "The Red," on the band's current release, Wonder What's Next, was an angry-sounding song about nothing more than anger itself -- the "seeing red" stage that signals when the average bruiser is about to start throwing some punches. "Send The Pain Below," the band's latest heavy-rotation smash, offers a prescription for dealing with anger without pinpointing its symptoms. And the tune most likely to inspire mosh pit mayhem on the new CD is a song simply about the idiocy of mosh pits.

"That's exactly what the song Forfeit' is about," Loeffler reveals. "How dumb it is to fight over something, to ever come to blows or ever raise your fists at an event where everybody's coming together out of some shared interest. Just how stupid the whole thing is. And now we do shows and we see those meatheads out in our crowds, and we're like, What is your problem?'"

Loeffler agrees it should be interesting to see how songs like "Forfeit" are received when Chevelle plays them on the main stage on the Ozzfest traveling circus. It's not like Loeffler is going to get angry about it, after all.

"There's a lot of happiness in our success right now -- and that's a good thing," he stresses. "For sure, playing shows and having people sing things back to you is a good feeling. And there's nothing wrong with simply enjoying that."

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