The last time Disturbed played Lincoln, it brought some pyro, strobes and ear-splitting rock to Pershing Center. That was 13 years ago.
Tuesday night, the veteran rock band is coming back to the Capital City, this time playing Pinnacle Bank Arena with its largest and longest show ever.
“This is the biggest undertaking we’ve ever undertaken as just us,” said singer David Draiman. “We have our friends Three Days Grace with us. But we’re really taking the next step up. It’s going to be ‘an evening with’ a two-hour set that covers our entire career, production that we’ve never had before.
“It’s going to be exciting, not only for the people coming to see it, but, in truth, for us. It’s going to be a new experience. It’s going to be a performance for us the level of which we’ve never been at before and the level we hope to continue for the rest of our career.”
Disturbed made the jump to a higher level of arena-headlining in the last three years -- after it released a dramatic, anthemic, largely electric guitar-free version of Simon and Garfunkel’s “The Sound of Silence.”
“The Sound of Silence” went to No. 1 on the Billboard Hard Rock and Mainstream Rock charts and became the band’s highest charting record ever on the Top 100 singles. It has sold more than 1.5 million digital downloads and has been streamed more than 54 million times. The music video has had more than 453 million views and the live video of the band’s performance on “Conan” has been viewed more than 85 million times. It’s also been used in the soundtrack for “The Blacklist” and the video game “Rock Band 4.”
Disturbed didn’t have a clue that any of that would happen when it recorded the song and decided to issue it as a single and music video.
“How could we?” Draiman asked. “It really, within the genre, was unprecedented. Never in a thousand years would I have dreamed it would be that massive and be used in all the places I’ve heard it used, figure skating, ‘Dancing with the Stars,’ with the 9/11 Memorial and getting the blessing from Paul Simon, when we met him last year on Maui. Surreal doesn’t cover it.”
The success of “The Sound of Silence” let the band give itself permission to do something it had been thinking about trying for years -- make an acoustic EP.
“This time around, we just started doing the acoustic stuff in trying to create that,” Draiman said by phone from his home in Honolulu. “When we started creating those songs, they were so strong, powerful and anthemic, it didn’t fit just having it on an EP anymore.”
So, add some hard rock compositions to the acoustic-rooted tracks and you’ve got “Evolution,” an album from a band, and lyricist, in Draiman, with something to say -- addressing big issues of death, war, addiction and political division.
Those lyrics, he said, are based on the music, the final element he adds to a song.
“It always comes after the fact,” Draiman said. “Lyrics, for us, are literally the paint on the sculpture, the very last thing that comes. For me, what you write the song about needs to be evolved from the feeling you get from the music.
“Some people do it the other way, write what is really a piece of poetry and force it onto the music. To me, the inspiration, the way it makes you feel, should reveal to you where you should go with it.
“Over the past two records, we’ve gotten much more direct, much more storytelling, much less open to interpretation. It’s a more honest way, a more open way. It’s an understanding that comes with getting older and seeing the world in a different way and seeing each other in a different way. All we’re trying to do is be honest -- true to our heart, the passion of the music and do it honestly.”
Several songs on “Evolution”, including “Ready to Fly,” “Hang on the Memories” and “‘Already Gone,” pay tribute in a way to Chester Bennington of Linkin Park, Vinnie Paul of Pantera and Chris Cornell of Soundgarden and Audioslave, entertainers who died when the album was being written and recorded.
“There are multiple songs on the record that deal with the subjects of pain and loss and addiction,” Draiman said. “Those poor lost souls, my friends, our friends, how could they not be part of the fabric of the record? It had to be there because it affected us so much, not only them, everyone in the band lost someone. I lost my grandmother. It’s a main theme of the record.”
“Evolution” is also a tribute album of sorts -- designed to take the hard rockers and their fans back to the classic rock of the '70s and '80s. That came, Draman said, from the band’s pre-show listening on its last tour.
“Our drummer Mikey (Wengren) always had the all metal i-whatever, iPod, IPhone, but this last tour we started listening to all the classic stuff -- The Eagles, Fleetwood Mac, Styx, REO,” he said. “The list goes on and on -- Journey -- the great classic bands from that era. Those amazing records, they have such an amazing diversity. We were ‘Let’s try to recreate the journey so many of those classic records took you on.’"
That said, “Evolution” has its share of hard rock assaults that Disturbed has been making since it broke through with “The Sickness” in 1997. Among them, “Are You Ready,” the opening track that jumped to the top of the charts when it was released as a single in September.
“That’s Disturbed 101 for sure,” Draiman said. “It was not only Disturbed 101, it had one of the strongest hooks on the record. It was an obvious first single for us ... and it’s done a lot for us.”’
But rock is dead, don’t you know, dumped in the musical scrap heap in favor of hip-hop, pop and R&B?.
“Everyone loves saying that,” Draiman said. “You know what, truth be told, if you look at the majority of mainstream media, we don’t get the presence of any other genre. We don’t get the facetime. We’re basically the underground bastard stepchild, like we’ve always been. But that’s OK. They can have the facetime. We’ll have the ticket sales and masses of fans that aren’t fickle and stay with you for years. I think it’s a fair trade.”