Exclusive Interview: Disturbed’s Dan Donegan on ‘The Lost Children’ and the Band’s Future
Disturbed broke the news earlier this summer that they would be taking an indefinite hiatus, following the completion of their headlining stint on this summer’s Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival and their first shows in South America. While the future of the band remains uncertain, the group is releasing of a B-sides collection, The Lost Children, on November 8. Revolver recently talked to Disturbed guitarist Dan Donegan to get all the details on the record, his personal plans, and what lies in store for the band. For a more in-depth, career-spanning interview with Donegan and frontman David Draiman, pick up Revolver‘s November/December issue, on stands everywhere and available here.
REVOLVER Why did you decide to release a collection of your B-sides?
DAN DONEGAN We just, you know, we had a lot of songs that we felt very passionate about that didn’t see the light of day. I mean a couple of them might have been on movie trailers or soundtracks and B-sides, you know, internationally or that. But, you know, we had this collection of songs that we’ve written throughout our career that, you know to me, I mean, our B-sides we fell just as strong about them as we did with songs that made the album.
And the title The Lost Children is basically, we’ve always referred to our songs as our children because we cant pick our favorite. They’re all too personal to us. So we love them all for different reasons, you know, for different vibes or different subject matter, whatever the case maybe.
And you picked “Hell” as the first single?
It’s kind of our last song to put out there as we’re on this hiatus and wanted to give the fans a little bonus just something more from us to hopefully hold them over for whoever knows how long that may be. I don’t know what this break is gonna be. I don’t know if it’s forever. I don’t know if in six months from now we say I cant stand being at home, or maybe it’s our wives saying “I cant stand you guys, get out of here,” you know. So. we’ll see what the future holds.
Did you decide to put this collection out as a direct result of going on hiatus?
Um, no. We were talking about it before that, too. It was just something, I mean we’d probably been talking about it for years because whenever we left those songs off, we’re always second guessing ourselves saying, “Ah, man, I wish we would have put this song on the album just so we could play it out live and people would know it.” So we’ve always, you know, hated the fact that there were songs that we wrote that not many people are familiar with these songs. So, we’ve always thought at some point in our career we’ve gotta get these songs out there.
Did going through the material to put on the record bring back a lot of memories for you?
Ah, for sure. Especially the songs ”A Welcome Burden” and “God of the Mind” [both B-sides to songs on the band's 2000 debut, The Sickness] because these were songs we were playing in the local bars around town before we had a record deal. It definitely brings me back to those places. That’s why these songs are so personal. I could put myself back in these different times you know in the past 10 or 15 years when we wrote those songs and just remember where I was or what was going on at that point. I just remember playing some of those small local divey, you know, dirty taverns in the neighborhood; brings back good memories, though.
What memories stick out for you from that time?
I don’t know what it was, like, “A Welcome Burden” always had this weird reaction, I mean they had a good reaction, like, with girls. Like at this one club we would play, it was so funny because they’d get up and they were like rocking out and like dancing to the song and we were like, Really? And it’s weird because it’s kind of a heavy ballsy song but, I don’t know, something within, maybe something within the groove of the song that they really enjoyed.
Was touring this past summer different because of the upcoming hiatus?
You know what, it was kind of unspoken for a while but, you know, I think we really stepped up our game, as far as the four of us go. I thought we were playing the best that we’ve played in years and I thought the energy was better from everybody because I think we knew that after this run we were going away. So we wanted to go out strong, as strong as we can. And we wanted, you know, to give the fans a great performance and a great show.
Was playing your hometown Chicago show particularly emotional for you?
For sure. Definitely. I mean I just remember looking at Mike [Wengren], our drummer, and not even really being able to get words out. It was very emotional to us.
It’s emotional because you pour everything into it. You put your whole life to this and then when you’re gonna walk away from it and you don’t know if it’s for good or you don’t know if it’s just for a short period of time, you know? Here we are at the venue that we grew up to—we’re out playing this outdoor amphitheater and this is the place that I was the kid in the crowd just watching all these concerts just dreaming of being on that stage one day, and here we are headlining it and we got exactly what we wanted. And then now I’m walking off of it and away from it. It was definitely a tough night. It really didn’t dawn on me until that moment, until coming off that stage and not knowing, you know, if I’ve fulfilled my dream or if it’s gonna continue.
Has it been hard adjusting to life back at home without the band commitments?
Yeah. I mean it is definitely a culture shock. It’s funny because, just this past weekend, or Monday was Columbus Day, so my daughter was off school. So Sunday night, we decided to go downtown and stay in a hotel. [Laughs] Because I’m so used to that life, you know, and my kids are.
What have you got planned for the next few months?
I’ve been saying it all along, too, part of what I’m looking forward while taking this break is being that fan in the crowd again. That’s gonna inspire me, that’s gonna push me.
One thing, you know, I wanna make clear is that there’s been a little confusion on or misunderstanding on maybe some comments that David [Draiman, vocals] had made to the people who were questioning is, you know, we didn’t decide to take this break because we wanna pursue other things. At least I didn’t. I don’t know really where the other guys heads are at. But within our discussions the plan wasn’t, like, we wanna pursue other things so let’s take a break.
Other than that, it’s just a matter of if and when the phone rings, or somebody picks up the phone and says, “Hey, where’s your head at? How do you feel about this? Do you wanna…” you know, “Do we miss it enough? Are we on the same page of wanting to write again or to tour again? I like to think that the longer, as long as we’re away from it, it’s only gonna make us miss it more , you know, because that’s all we know, that’s all we’ve loved and done. So I’d like to think that there’s gonna come a point where we’re all gonna be, like, I was waiting for somebody to pick up the phone and say, “Hey, let’s get going.”