When Disturbed plays at Darien Lake on July 24, it will the mark the group’s return to its rightful stage. Though Disturbed played Rapids Theatre earlier this year, it has always seemed to be meant to play the large venues.
Along with bands like Godsmack and Korn, Disturbed helped define the nu-metal and alt-metal sound in the early 2000’s. In Disturbed’s four-times platinum debut record, “The Sickness,” the band – vocalist David Draiman, bassist John Moyer, guitarist Dan Donegan and drummer Mike Wengren - used electronic beats and almost hip-hop like vocal cadences to craft a sound that was just beginning to evolve. Since then, Disturbed has released album after album to further solidify its sound and legacy.
After the release of 2011’s “Asylum,” the band put its fame aside and took a four-year hiatus. Each band member explored their own side projects and then Disturbed roared back with 2015’s “Immortalized.” The release had a massive hit with a cover of Simon and Garfunkel’s “Sound of Silence,” which has been endorsed from celebrities like Russell Crowe, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, and even Paul Simon.
I spoke with drummer Mike Wengren about Disturb’s most recent success, the secret process of recording the new album, and breaking down stereotypes of metal.
Question: When you guys returned from hiatus, what made you think it was the right time to come back?
Answer: When we decided to take a break, we knew we’d be back at some point, we just weren’t sure when. We needed to keep it open ended. We started with three of us in a garage, and it’s amazing where it’s gone. But it became like a big machine we didn’t have a lot of control over, and we said we’d step away if it felt like punching a time card. And for each of us, life was happening. Some of us got married or had children. But we started missing it.
We eventually started putting the feelers out, and we decided we were going to make it happen and get together again. As soon as we started writing the record, which we had to keep secret, the hair stood up on our necks. It reminded us of when we first started.
Q. You are on tour with Breaking Benjamin, who also just released an incredibly successful album after a hiatus. Do you think this is an advent of a wider return to the type of music you guys play?
A: I think you said it best. You don’t just become a fan of hard rock or metal. It’s part of your life. It resonates inside you and you make connections with the music. Just because a band takes a break, those connections still exist. It brought us back stronger than ever.
Q. So many people, even celebrities, are so moved by your rendition of “Sound of Silence.” What did you hear in the song that resonates with you?
A: When Russell Crowe tweets and says that you’ve come along and reinvented genius, that’s something amazing. As for the song, it shows that we’re older and more mature and more vulnerable. We’ve been able to tap into that side of ourselves a bit more. There’s so much that’s happened in our lives that allows us to show our more emotional side.
Q. With the success of that song, do you think you’re redefining to a lot of skeptics what a metal band is capable of?
A: To be honest with you, I absolutely think so. Before the hiatus, people had this idea of the signature Disturbed sound. That’s always going to be there. But what I love about that song is that it’s helping reinvent what Disturbed can do. It’s a song we normally wouldn’t be known for. It shows music is music and it doesn’t have to be put in a neat little category.
Q. There’s such a deep connection between you and your audience that seems lost with other metal bands, especially with huge crowds. What do you think it is, personally, that ties you so closely?
A: The lyrics resonate so strongly with people. We write about real life events that we’ve gone through ourselves, and we’re the working-class people. People can relate to that. They work to earn a paycheck and put food on the table, and when we go on stage, we feed off of every person in the crowd.
Q. Now that you’re back, is it full steam ahead?
A: We haven’t really talked about it. We have a lot more touring to do first, and we have a bit of a one track mind. When that’s all done, we’ll reassess and see where we are. We have so much energy, and I don’t think we can stop that for very long.
Who: Disturbed with Breaking Benjamin plus Alter Bridge and Saint Asonia
When: 6 p.m. July 24
Where: Darien Lake P.A.C.
Tickets: $36.95 to 86.95 reserved; $29.95 lawn
Info: livenation.com, ticketmaster.com