Sunday, August 25, 2013
I first met Mike Wengren (drums, DISTURBED) back in late 1999 prior to the release of THE SICKNESS. Being a drummer myself, we talked of our favorite drummers, bands, and the general observations of the explosion of the heavy music scene at that time. Move forward through over a decade, many tours, four number one albums, and it’s time for a different avenue of expression. Now we have FIGHT OR FLIGHT and I was able to have a quick chat with Mike over the phone.
Q: How’s the family?
A: Good, Good, real good! It was great to be home for a little while. I get a chance to see them today they’re going to come out to the show.
Q: Great! Are you going for a 2nd child?
A: We’re talkin about it. But scheduling is real tough.
Q: How is it being a Dad?
A: I love it! The best thing ever!
Q: Let’s talk Fight Or Flight! I just got the album and I was way surprised. I usually don’t get excited about side projects, but I’m excited for FOF!
A: Thanks! We are too! It didn’t start out to necessarily start a whole new band, it just kinda evolved over the two Dan’s (Chandler – from EVANS BLUE and Donegan – Disturbed). They reached out to each other, mutual fans of each other and thought during the downtime it would be cool to write some new material and it just continued to evolve. Then Dan approached me and says hey, I’ve been working with this guy, I got some music. You think you’d be interested in laying some tracks down, laying some drums down? I was like yeah, absolutely! I’m not doing anything right now anyway. He and I had been playing together for so long it was just natural. Once I heard the material I was totally in. We decided to go in the studio and just track some of the material and record an album for ourselves. We were so happy with the way it turned out, we just figured we should try to put a band together and tour with it. We got the rest of the guys in and put the record out and now we’re out on the road. We didn’t even tell Management, tell the label. Dan and I financed it ourselves, recorded it ourselves, mixed it, produced it, and showed up on the label’s doorstep and said, here’s the record, can you put this out? And they said OK!
Q: When you’re doing it for yourself, was it a more fulfilling experience?
A: Yeah, it absolutely is! We had been doing things for so long, the same way with Disturbed. It was really nice to something really fresh and it was outside the box for us. Dan Chandler is also a musician, he plays guitar himself. A lot of the material started that way with him singing and playing guitar. That was a new approach for us. With Disturbed it starts with Danny writing guitar riffs, then throwing it to me and laying the beat down and once we have music down we send it over to David (Draiman – vocals – Disturbed) and lyrics come last, the melodies as well. It was nice to think outside the box and do something fresh. We’re having a lot of fun with it.
Q: FOF is a lot more organic sounding as well!
A: Yeah, I definitely think so! We tried to stay away from, um, obviously when you put Donegan and myself together, there’s going to be some things that sound similar, just because of the way we play and play together. But we did try to keep a conscience effort to stay away from anything that sounds like any of our other bands. It would have defeated the purpose at that point if we wanted it to sound like the other bands we could have went back and did a record with those bands.
Q: You have some tour dates right now, are you looking to morph it into a bigger tour.
A: We’re trying to let everybody know that this is a real band, it’s a legitimate band. We plan on being out for a long time. We look to get some more tour dates booked and just continue on and play everywhere and anywhere we can. We got some things in the works, you know how it goes, nothing to confirm yet. Hopefully we will announce something soon.
Q: It’s good to see you guys not waiting around for something else to happen. In your downtime, did you think you would end up playing in another band, did you aspire to play in another band, or were you looking forward to the downtime?
A: You know what, things with Disturbed just became a big machine and rolling forward and felt like it was going to roll forward with or without us like we didn’t have a lot of control and some of the fun was being lost. So we agreed we don’t want this to end, we’re not going to break up, we’re not going to quit. Let’s just put it aside for a little bit and take a break and relax, get away from each other, and go home and enjoy our families. The thing is, that sounds great on paper, but once we got home, we’re musicians. We play, we create, we write! And that was missing! And without that, there was a hole in our lives and I think we were just miserable. So, it was a natural progression for us to start working on some form of music.
Q: Do you or Dan have any interest in producing other bands?
A: Danny’s got his feet wet a couple times. He’s done some producing with other bands. That’s not necessarily my forte. I don’t know if I have the patience to sit there and deal with other bands. I’d rather do the creating and play myself.
Q: It’s almost 15 years since your debut came out and at that point in time, the music business was starting to peak and bands were selling albums. And in that time, it has changed drastically. How do you feel about it now?
A: It’s definitely a tough business to survive in. I guess with any new business starting out it’s tough to survive in, especially with this economy. We’re just having fun with it. It’s definitely tough trying to stay afloat, trying to sell records, but like you said, the business has changed, but it’s also evolved. So whereas there were certain avenues before that bands could use to get their name out there, now there’s other means. Whether it’s social media or video games as those didn’t exist as they do today back then. We’re just trying to use the avenues we can take and try to get the name out there and let people know here we are!