Although Disturbed may be on hiatus it doesn’t mean fans can’t see current members on tour playing music. Each member is out working with side projects with front man David Draiman leading Device; bassist John Moyer playing with Adrenaline Mob; and the two remaining Disturbed members, guitarist Dan Donegan and drummer Mike Wengren forming their new band, Fight or Flight. Donegan recently called in to talk about Fight or Flight and the future of one of the biggest bands in rock music.
Q - You’re best known for the band Disturbed. Disturbed is currently on hiatus. Your side project is called Fight or Flight with Disturbed member, Mike Wengren. How did this project come together specifically regarding the non-Disturbed members?
A – I had really no intention in forming a band, really to be honest with you. I was speaking with Dan Chandler from Evans Blue and we talked about maybe collaborating and trying to write a couple songs together and before I knew it we had a lot more than just a couple songs. It just kind of evolved from there and at that point I said, ‘Hey, let’s get Mike in here and go track some drums and make an album.’
Q – How did you come up with the name, Fight or Flight?
A – Once we established that we were excited about the material and wanted to put it out and tour and make this another band, we had to come up with something. I was just thinking about it one day… actually my wife suggested it to me. She said, ‘What about fight or flight?’ And then like two days later I was watching an episode of ‘Dexter’ and Dexter had said it in there. I got all superstitious because I get crazy like that and thought it was a sign because I heard it twice in a matter of days (laughs). And tying that in, most bands out there know that you have to be a fighter in this industry. Bands are driven out of passion and they go out there even if it’s only to make enough money to make it to the next town. You just continue fighting; you never give up on that.
Q – The band’s debut album “A Life by Design?” will be released July 23rd. I’ve had the chance to hear the album a few times. There is some similarity to Disturbed, not as hard but I can hear some similarities. How would you describe Fight or Flight’s sound and how would you compare it to Disturbed?
A – As the songs were developing they had to happen naturally for us but there was a conscious effort to try to keep it separate from Disturbed. I don’t want to give the fans a watered down version of Disturbed. We play the way we play as far as me and Mike so there are some signature things that you’ll be able to identify but, for the most part, writing with Dan Chandler, a different guy is going to bring a different element. That, alone, kind of helped me think outside the box and try things differently. He also offered things musically on another end because, with Disturbed, I’ve always presented all the music for David (Draiman) to write to. So with Fight or Flight, it was more a combination of me and Dan Chandler with riffs and music going back and forth; sort of a collaboration between everything.
Q – What I love about your guitar playing is there are some ‘80s sensibilities combined with modern day rock riffs. Which guitar players did you look up to growing up and is there one player specifically you still idolize?
(Photo by Donny Phillips)
A – I just try to learn from every decade of guitar players. I obviously lean toward metal and hard rock but I really respect any genre. A good player is a good player. If I can learn something or pick something up then I’m going to incorporate it into my own style. Even though I grew up on the classic metal bands like Iron Maiden and Judas Priest, Black Sabbath and that, my playing didn’t start until the ‘80s so a lot of those hair bands, even though they get a bad rap for some of their songs, had great guitar players. I was big into George Lynch from Dokken and Warren DeMartini from RATT. These guys were just amazing players. Through the ‘90s, during the grunge phase, it was more Jerry Cantrell from Alice in Chains and Soundgarden. And Dimebag (Darrell) of course and Zakk Wylde. All the typical guitar heroes that are out there are heroes so everybody loved their playing. I just try to learn from each of those guys and incorporate them into my own playing.
Q – Disturbed front man, David Draiman, has a new band called Device. Any chance Fight or Flight will do any dates with Device?
A – I don’t know. We’re open to anything. I’ll play with anyone, anywhere, anytime. I just miss being on stage and performing and that has given me that therapeutic outlet. Nothing has come up yet as far as us doing anything together but it doesn’t matter to me who I play with. If something comes up and the opportunity is there, we’re open to it.
Q – I would be remiss if I didn’t ask about Disturbed returning. As of today, is there any news on when the band will start recording again?
A – Unfortunately not. I don’t want to disappoint Disturbed fans but truthfully, as long as a career as we’ve had, we’re very fortunate and we appreciate the fans and we feel very close and connected to them and I just need to be really honest with them and say that there has been nothing talked about at all. I know we ended things with people assuming that nobody is leaving Disturbed, nobody’s quitting and it’s not done, but on the other hand, nobody is really rushing to get back to it either.
Q – I only bring that up because I read an open letter you wrote to fans. I’m sure you got a huge response because it appeared that Disturbed was taking a hiatus but then here you all are starting different bands so it kind of sent mixed signals. Do you see a lot of upset fans finally coming around to embrace the new project?
A – I totally understand how some of the fans could get a mixed reaction or be disappointed or upset because I would be the same way (laughs) if it was one of the bands I was into and wanting it but we all agreed in Disturbed that we wanted to take a break from each other, a break from the routine, but not necessarily take a break from making music or doing different things. We didn’t want to become predictable with Disturbed and it started to feel like an assembly line with the music, not predictable with the music but predictable of our moves. We would write, record, do an album, come out, do the big summer tours, which was a great and awesome stepping stone throughout our career, but I think everyone knew that, ‘OK, it’s going to be Disturbed doing this and Disturbed doing that,’ and we just wanted to break up that feeling of punching the clock. However long that takes, whether it’s a year or two, or five or 10, I have no idea. I’d like to think that if you talked to us all individually we’d all say the same thing that, ‘Yes, someday we do plan on doing Disturbed again.’ If anything, the fans can look forward to an optimistic response to it. Until then we’re just fulfilling our needs with other things.
Q – That’s all I had. Thank you again for taking the time. Is there anything you wanted to add?
A – Just looking forward to hitting the road with Fight or Flight. I hope the fans have an open mind and see that this is just another musical outlet. It’s a separate band; I now have two priorities in my life in two bands that I have to give to. We just wanted to show another creative side to ourselves; like I said I don’t want to give a Disturbed part two but just want to do creative things that I haven’t shown yet.
For more information on Fight or Flight, visit https://www.facebook.com/fightorflightofficial.
Jason Tanamor is the Editor of Zoiks! Online. He is also the author of the novels, "Hello Lesbian!" and "Anonymous." Email Jason at firstname.lastname@example.org.