The Sound of Something New
Sometimes, all it takes for an old group to take on a new wave of fans is a simple change in the act.
Disturbed, the Chicago-based heavy metal band that formed as “Brawl” in the mid-90s, has been experiencing a musical renaissance since the release of their newest album, Immortalized, in 2015.
Though the album had many triumphs, among the most recognizable was the band’s foray into a crossover success that had old and new fans alike lauding them for months afterwards. Their inspiration? Simon & Garfunkel’s 1964 chart-topping song “The Sound of Silence.”
“I couldn’t be more flabbergasted by the whole thing,” said lead vocalist David Draiman. “My parents can play [the song] for their friends with pride without having to warn them not to be frightened ahead of time. I have fans saying, ‘Finally, me and my mom can actually agree on music for once!'”
But why this song? And why the immense popularity that followed?
Here’s how the unlikely cover became such a hit.
“It was really very experimental.”
In an interview with Baby Huey & Chasta from San Francisco’s “The Bone” radio station, band vocalist David Draiman said that when drummer Mike Wengren first approached them with the idea to cover “The Sound of Silence,” they were unsure about the risk involved.
Draiman even admits he initially felt they should approach the cover upbeat, staccato, even aggressive in order to keep with the band’s style, but as they began to work on it, they challenged themselves to pay homage to Simon & Garfunkle’s original sound.
Darkness, My Old Friend
In the interview, which you can watch below, David confesses how difficult it was to approach the classic song from a place that would maintain its integrity while still allowing Disturbed to stay true to its audience. Draiman says he had a particularly hard time finding where to sing from, balancing his vibrato and restrained performance with his normal energy.
In fact, it is Draiman’s unique voice, and specific performance of this song, that many have attributed with the band’s spike in popularity following the release of Immortalized in August 2015. Debuting at number one on the Billboard 200 chart, Immortalized marked Disturb’s fifth consecutive #1 debut. “The Sound of Silence” peaked at number 42 on the Billboard Hot 100, becoming the band’s highest-ranked single.
Along with the Draiman’s chilling sound and the song’s immense popularity, Immortalized was also a treat to long-time Disturbed fans because it ended a four-year hiatus for the band. Together, these factors combined to form a powerhouse of a hit.