A Brush with Fame – Episode 4: Auditioning for Disturbed

Posted: August 12, 2013 in Music, Storytime
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

If you’re familiar with modern rock from the year 2000 and onward, then you likely know the band Disturbed very well. They broke out in 2000 with their album The Sickness and haven’t slowed down since. They followed it up in 2002 with Believe, but after they were done touring to support that album, their bassist left the band. News hit the streets that they were auditioning for a replacement, with auditions to be held at their favorite club in their hometown. So in 2004 I headed to Chicago to try out …

According to their website, we had to learn three songs: The Game, Liberate, and Believe. I learned those songs and ten more, not because I thought that would be impressive, but because I loved the band and thought that the more songs I learned, the more I could learn how the previous bassist wrote for and supported the songs. I called the Chicago Guitar Center and asked if I could borrow my exact model bass guitar for the audition, since I didn’t want to fly with my bass – they had no problem and set it up. I flew to Chicago and stayed overnight with a friend. The doors opened at 10 AM, so I decided to get there at 9 – I think I was the 200th person in line. You could tell it was gonna be a long day.

I was at the audition by myself, and I didn’t know anyone, so I wasn’t looking particularly forward to this. I kinda knew I was in over my head, not necessarily talent-wise, but more in terms of appearance. Even though I was dressed all in black, got the best haircut I could for the occasion (even had a special photo shoot done for my press kit), and put on my “mean” face, I was simply not with the right crowd – all I could do was look around and see a whole bunch of crazy rock stars waiting for their chance to join Disturbed. But then something happened which changed everything.

A long-haired guy who looked all the part was headed for his spot in line behind me. He was looking around at how many people were already in line, and then he plunked his guitar case down and said “There. First in line.” And that broke the ice. The camaraderie that formed between him, me, and the guy in front of me lasted for the whole six hours we waited in line, inching forward every 60 seconds or so. Basically, everyone was asked to play the first verse and chorus of one of the three specified songs, and we were all assigned a song when we got close to the front of the line.

His name was Eric, and he was there with his girlfriend (whose name escapes me). They were great fun, and they made the journey into Failed Audition Land more palatable. Once we got inside the club, we could hear the auditions happening. It was kind of obnoxious to hear the first verse and chorus of the same three songs for an entire afternoon, but it was a small price. I remember when we got near the bar, the lead singer David Draiman made an appearance. He looked utterly normal compared to when I had seen him in concert in 2000. Of course he did – he wasn’t on stage. He was just another dude at the bar, looking for a soda.

As we all got closer to the front of the line, naturally we pulled out our basses and started warming up. I remember watching one guy play the bass part behind the guitar solo to some other Disturbed song, and I could tell that I hadn’t practiced nearly enough. But I also took comfort in knowing that everyone in the club was going back to the same day job on Monday, with only one exception, so there were far more people in my shoes than not.

When we were just a few spots from the front, they told us which song we each had to play. I got The Game, and while I like that song a lot, it was the hardest of the three to play, at least for me. When I was next in line, I handed them my press kit, hoping that the staff might chat me up for 5-10 seconds, but they just made me wait, and when the guy before me was done, I just headed for the small stage, plugged in, and did the most nervous playing of The Game that I could pull off. The band members were sitting on a couch, just a bit away from the stage. It was hard to gauge how “into it” they were.

Sixty seconds later, I was outside with everyone else, and once the pressure was off, you could see how drained people were. Six hours is a very long time to stand in any line, let alone one where you will be evaluated at the end. Some people were ready to go out drinking, but I just wanted to wave goodbye to Chicago and head home. It was lovely, dear Disturbed, and if you ever need another bass player, I wouldn’t hesitate to audition again, even if only to make a couple new friends.


  1. LisandroP says:

    You auditioned for Disturbed! Hope your vocal growls were up to the task 🙂

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