’Everybody’s Struggling’: Disturbed Frontman Speaks Up on How Actually Devastating Pandemic Was on the Music Industry

Recently, Disturbed frontman David Draiman joined 99.9 KISW Radio for a chat where he discussed the band’s upcoming North American tour. Taking place this spring and summer, it consists of 36 shows in total while a few awesome names from the world of metal will act as support.

During the chat, David also reflected on how the pandemic and massive lockdowns affected the music industry and what it’s like to finally have the chance to perform live. He offered (transcript via Blabbermouth):

“We were robbed of normalcy for so long [due to the COVID-19 pandemic. To feel like things are normalizing once again and to get back to doing what we are really meant to be doing in this life — all of us; not just us [in the band] — is an incredible thing.”

“But now to be able to experience the celebration known as live performance and to feel that circle of symbiotic kind of relationship that you end up having and that energy surge in a whole new way, because it was taken for so long, it’s sweeter now.

“And I think people are even more passionate. They’re so pent up. They’re ready. And we are too.”

However, David also reflected on how the whole industry was deeply affected by the pandemic, ultimately leading to major logistical and financial issues. Discussing how being isolated during the pandemic affected everyone, Draiman offered:

“I think that the human body *and* human spirit are both incredibly resilient. I think we *are* traumatized. There’s no doubt about it. From every walk of life and every age range imaginable. I think the kids got hit the hardest during all this.”

Disturbed - Feeding the Fire [Official Audio]

“When you are stripped of the things that keep you engaged, that keep you communicating, that keep you challenged, it can do long-term damage sometimes.

“I think that people are gonna take — it may take the rest of their lifetimes to sometimes get back to where they were after, not only what this whole experience did to us psychologically, but what it did to some people fiscally, what it did to them financially.

“It destroyed families, it destroyed jobs, it destroyed worlds. I mean, the effects were more than just the lives that were taken by the virus. Terrible.

Disturbed - Bad Man [Official Music Video]

“So it’s weird. I feel very, very fortunate that we’re still one of the ones that are in a position to go back out there and to *do* what we do and to *keep* doing what we love.

“The music industry as a whole, we lost two-thirds of our workforce. They’re gone. They went to do other things, because live events couldn’t happen for two to three years. So they had to put food on the table.

“There are bands like us who did everything that they could for their crew, and we’d do it again, but there are a lot of bands that couldn’t. And people had to make a living.

DISTURBED Live Full Concert At Madison Square Garden New York APR 2022

As a result, as Draiman explains, it gets more expensive to go out there on the road these days. And things are far from what they were due to financial issues. He continued:

“And so now, you have a few people left. Now costs are through the roof, now everybody’s struggling, and we’re *still* chomping at the bit to get out there. I think the challenge makes it better.”

David isn’t the only musician who addressed the problem, although there weren’t that many who were willing to talk about it at this point. One of the big name in metal music to address this was Devin Townsend. In an interview released late last year, Townsend spoke up on the matter of economic issues for touring musicians these days and offered:

“It’s gotten way worse. I don’t think it’s better at all, actually. Because the costs of touring now, with inflation and the cost of gasoline and diesel… Plus, over the course of the pandemic, we’ve lost a ton of really good venues.”

Devin Townsend, Royal Albert Hall, 17 April 2022 (almost full concert, good sound)

“I’d say probably 50 percent of the workforce in touring has now left. ‘Cause what’s a guitar tech gonna do for two years? You have to get a job, right? And so the ones that are remaining, not only are they already spoken for with other bands, but they’re almost twice as expensive.”

“I saw this thing about Live Nation the other day, they’re taking 30 percent of merch sales from some of these venues. The costs of airlines have gone up. So artists, the ability to make money on tour is almost completely gone now — at least an artist on my level.”

“So, yes, it’s opened up again, but it’s 10 times as expensive. It’s, like, what do you do? Even little things like, okay, the hotels are more expensive; the food at the hotels [is] more expensive. So at the end of it, you’re touring for what? You’re touring ultimately so you can present your work to the people who care about your work, and that’s worth it to me.”

Lightwork European Tour 2023

“But I think for anybody to think that it’s now easy again, you should investigate that, because I’m trying to set up tours for next year, and there’s no way to keep them within cost — there’s no way.

“And so you go out there and, like, well, we can’t have this vehicle; we can’t have this backline; we can’t have this production; we can’t have these lights.”

“And then if you show up at a place and the audience comes, they’re, like, ‘The show’s not good. There’s no lights. There’s no production.’ So what should you do? And I think a lot of musicians, their decision is, like, ‘Well, I’ll just stay home then and I’ll just create from home.’”

DEVIN TOWNSEND - Kingdom - Bloodstock 2021

“I try to go out with acoustic now, because that way I can afford it. If I just show up with an acoustic guitar and sing for people, it’s better than nothing. But it’s still, like, man, it’s a complicated time, brother.”

Photo: AFX836 (David Draiman 2016)

  • David Slavkovic

    David always planned for music to be nothing more than a hobby. However, after a short career as an agricultural engineer he ended up news editor at KillerGuitarRigs, senior editor at Ultimate-Guitar.com, as well as a freelance contributor to online magazines such as GuitaristNextdoor and brands like Sam Ash.

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