By all accounts, Disturbed had emerged as one of rock’s shining new stars in a very short time, and while they were definitely at the top of their game, the road to the band’s third album Ten thousand fists was anything but an easy move.
The biggest obstacle came in the form of a lineup change. The band parted ways with bassist Steve “Fuzz” Kmak not long after the conclusion of the second edition of their Music as a Weapon tour. The slot remained vacant for more than a year until the group found their new bass player John Moyerreissued from early 2000s radio rockers Union Underground.
“He showed a lot of courage,” singer David Draiman said of Moyer to Launch at the time. “He came to rehearsals and waited in line with everyone else on his own dime without an invitation. That said a lot. That he knew the material and played it well said a lot. That we vibed well together on stage — you know, all the stuff involved , and when we added them up and compared them to the rest of the potential candidates, he won.” Drummer Mike Wengren later recounted Time leader, “He’s stepped up and it’s just been great. He’s added a newfound energy and excitement to the band. He’s been a great player and we have a great time on stage together.” But even with Moyer’s addition, the band still needed to get up to speed, and it wasn’t until their tour for Ten thousand fists that the bass player was confirmed as an official member.
The band began recording in early 2005 at Groovemaster Studios in their native Chicago with longtime producer Johnny K. While there were some who stuck to what had worked before, Disturbed expanded their musical palette with Ten thousand fists album. From a musical point of view, guitarist Dan Donegan applauded the idea of incorporating guitar solos, while vocalist David Draiman pushed his vocals to include “some more Rob Halford-esque stuff.”
Speaking about the inclusion of guitar solos, Donegan stated, “When we started writing, we went back to the basics of just kind of jamming riffs. It brought us back to some of our influences. It made the songs work like some of them. could use guitar solos. We just thought we’d expand on that. We’re trying in our own way to help bring that element back to the music.”
While on the subject of influences, was one of them Dimebag Darrell, who was shot down on stage in December 2004, just before the start of recording for the new album. The band played a benefit for the Dimebag Darrell Memorial Fund and did a dedication to Dime on Ten thousand fists album. Donegan also stated that the focus on adding guitar solos was in part a tribute to the late guitarist.
Lyrically, Disturbed went a little more political Ten thousand fists, who keep the aggression in place, but open up to more lyrical themes with their third disc. In addition, the band found they had a growing fan base in the military and wrote the tracks “Forgiven“and”Overburdened” with soldiers in mind. “We have the utmost love and respect for the soldiers,” Draiman added Short attack. “We have friends who are soldiers, some of whom have died in the process of this conflict, and many of whom will play our music in battle as a means of strengthening or removing their fear. We couldn’t be more proud. Never let that be misunderstood that because we are against war – which I always will be – that we are against those who fight.”
As for the overall sound, Draiman would tell Billboard“It seems to meld the brutality and darkness of it The disease with the added melodic character and complexity of Believe. It’s more aggressive than the last record, and at times more aggressive than the first.”
On Sept. 20, 2005, the band released their Ten thousand fists album. The group began promotion by releasing the preview track “Guarded” in late June, but the song took off right out of the gate, reaching No. 7 on the Mainstream Rock chart. “‘Guarded’ was put out there to just whet everyone’s appetite,” Draiman told Launch. “It’s one of the more aggressive tracks on the record, just to remind everyone where we came from and who we are. Gives a little bit back to the core. It’s a song that reflects what the choice of this life forces certain people to do. a certain way — you have to remain guarded at a certain level.”
The early success of the preview song did nothing to dissuade fans from “hit,” meant to be the first single from the album. The track arrived a few weeks after “Guarded” and shot all the way to No. 2 on the Mainstream Rock chart and also hit No. 13 Alternative. “Stricken” was one of the the first ever songs in Disturbed’s history to feature a guitar solo, and its personal nature really connected with fans.
When it came time to film the video for the track, the group used an abandoned hospital for the shoot. The set is recognizable to fans as the set from the classic horror film A Nightmare on Elm Street. In particular, Mike Wengren shot some of his scenes in the boiler room where Freddy Krueger once slept. “I was expecting to see some Freddy for him to come out and kick my ass,” laughed the drummer. “He wouldn’t come out though. He’s too scared. He’s got the claws, but I’ve got drumsticks.”
With two hits right off the bat, Disturbed turned to the relationship song “Just stop” as their third single in early 2006. Draiman explained to Launch, “Have you ever been in a relationship situation where for some reason the other partner in the relationship is always trying to do things to make things more dramatic? For no good reason? And if they just relax and allow things to be and just grow. and develop that everything would be much happier and more peaceful. So that’s the idea behind that song.” “Just Stop” would shoot up to No. 4 on the Mainstream Rock chart, but their first chart topper from the album was yet to come.
It would be the band’s cover Genesis classic”Land of Confusion.” David Draiman was initially against the idea of doing another cover song, but eventually came around. He shared Battle Creek Enquirer that he liked the idea of taking something that didn’t sound like Disturbed and trying to make it their own. As for the video, the band tapped hotshot director Todd McFarlane, who needed some time with his team to create the animations for the clip. “[This clip will be] a big view of the corporate world and how it all fits together into one big beast for me,” McFarlane told MTV. “That the world is ruled by a giant thing that is driven by greed and lust.” As mentioned, fans embraced the song when it peaked at #1 on the Mainstream Rock chart, and the band also enjoyed minimal crossover success.
Disturbed, “Land of Confusion”
Rounding out the singles for the album was the live song and title track “Ten thousand fists“, which dropped just before the end of 2006. “It means strength, unity, conviction, power and the elation you feel when you get to see it on one of our shows,” said Draiman. “It’s one of my favorites and people know that I have an affinity for asking people to put their fists in the air, and it’s just, it’s exhilarating to be able to see ten thousand raised fists or more.” The track would become one of their most popular live songs.
Disturbed, “Ten Thousand Fists”
Speaking of live, Disturbed really became one of rock’s biggest draws during their tour Ten thousand fists. After a headline tour with Sick Nino and Ten yearssaw the group themselves headlining the Jagermeister Music Tour, staging the third Music as a Weapon Tour and acting as de facto co-headliners with System of a Down at Ozzfest 2006 when Ozzy Osbourne only played part of the race. However, the band had to cancel some dates when Draiman ran into vocal problems due to severe acid reflux, forcing him to rethink how he approached life on the road.
Ten thousand fists became the band’s second album to top the Billboard 200 Albums chart and was eventually certified platinum. It also proved to be a key disc in the band’s development, laying the foundation for their future. Draiman recently reflected with Loudwire, “This one was a very difficult one for us because we came back with our new bass player at the time, John, and we kind of had to get over the whole thing of letting Fuzz go and all the baggage that came with it and prove to the world that we’re still here, we’re still powerful, and we’re still going to kick you. Ten thousand fists was a statement of our enduring ability to knock down doors.” Watch his full comments on the disc in the video below.