On Tuesday morning (Dec. 6), hard-rock vets Disturbed secured the second Grammy nomination of their career, as their somber live rendition of Simon & Garfunkel’s “The Sound of Silence” was among the finalists for Best Rock Performance. The Chicago quartet, who included the cover on their 2015 album Immortalized, will compete against Twenty One Pilots’ Top 10 smash “Heathens”; the title track from David Bowie’s final album, Blackstar; a live performance of Alabama Shakes’ “Joe”; and “Don’t Hurt Yourself,” from Beyonce featuring Jack White.
When asked about that last nominee — Beyonce’s first appearance in the rock category, from her Album of the Year nominee Lemonade — Disturbed frontman David Draiman tells Billboard that, yes, competing with Queen Bey in this context is a little startling. “I have mad respect for all the artists in this category, including and especially Jack White,” Draiman says. “Is it strange [to be up against Beyonce]? I think the reason you asked the question is because it is. It definitely stands out — like, one of these things is not like the other, you know? But what are you going to do?”
Yet Beyonce’s unexpected nomination in the rock field is “not what bothers” Draiman, whose group has scored five No. 1 albums on the Billboard 200 chart since its formation two decades ago. “What bothers me is that everybody in this category are giants of the field,” he explains. “These are the biggest of the big, the people who made a serious impact this year. Those boys in Twenty One Pilots did some damage this year. And Bowie, a posthumous award happens all the time, and who more deserving? It’s crazy the amount of talent in this category.”
Draiman continues, “When did it all become ‘rock’? If you look at every other genre, there are so many categories and sub-categories. For rock, this is all we’ve got, so everything ends up being jammed into these four categories. Is it diverse? Absolutely. It’s too diverse! When you can have, with all due respect, a Beyonce and a Disturbed in the same category, something has gone wrong. Not taking anything away from her whatsoever, we’re just very different from each other.”
To be nominated for “The Sound of Silence,” which started climbing the Hot 100 chart after a March performance on Conan and eventually peaked at No. 42, is “very humbling,” says Draiman. After 20 years of delivering intense rock singles like “Down With the Sickness” and “Ten Thousand Fists,” Disturbed has the chance to snag its first Grammy Award, after being nominated and losing — for “Inside the Fire,” in the now-defunct Best Hard Rock Performance category — in 2009.
“It wasn’t something that we expected,” admits Draiman. “This song seems to have touched and affected so many different people. It feels wonderful. It’s been tangible now, maybe more than ever — the recognition factor has multiplied like tenfold, which is weird for me.”
Would Disturbed perform at the Grammys if asked? “I would love to do it,” says Draiman. And asked about the group’s chances of winning, the frontman is already assuming Bowie’s “Blackstar” has it in the bag. “If we’re gonna lose to someone, I’d love for it to be Bowie,” he says. “The nice thing about Bowie is that he’s been nominated in five categories, so he can give us this one!” Draiman laughs. “It’s a pipe dream, dude, but even pipe dreams are worth smoking.”