DISTURBED Frontman: 'I'm Incredibly Defiant Against Neo-Nazis And Skinheads'

Davd Brinn of The Jerusalem Post recently conducted an interview with DISTURBED frontman David Draiman. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.

The Jerusalem Post: When did your relationship with Israel start?

Draiman: I came [to Israel] many times as a kid with my family. I think the first time I was six. I used to come here for summer camp a couple times in my childhood, and I spent the year after high school here studying at Neve Zion yeshiva [in Telz Stone]. I was one of those guys you used to see getting into trouble or hanging out on Kikar Zion in Jerusalem.

The Jerusalem Post: You attended your brother's [who is also a musician] show last night in Jerusalem (at the Off the Wall Comedy Club). Did you get up and perform with him?

Draiman: No, no, no! I didn't get up and perform. You know, the last time I went to see him, he called me up and I told him then to never do that to me again. I don't mind being put on the spot, but I'm coming there for my brother and it shouldn't be about me. I didn't wear these [pointing to his oversized chin piercings], I went to watch his show, I'm off the clock.It also makes me feel uncomfortable if I think that he feels any residual feelings over attention being given to me — I want it to be all about him and to honor him.

The Jerusalem Post: What was your Jewish upbringing like?

Draiman: I attended five different Jewish day schools as a teenager. I mean, I was trained as a hazan! I led High Holy Day services a number of years in Chicago. If I did a little refresher I could still do it, but I don't think I'd be a really good representative before God for anybody these days. My freshman year of high school was at WITS, the Wisconsin Institute for Torah Study in Milwaukee. And I got asked to leave after my first year there. It wasn't because of my studies – they were always way past the norm, I graduated with a 3.75 GPA and scored just under 1400 on my SATs. Academics were never the issue. The issue was suppression of normalcy. I couldn't really stomach the rigorous religious requirements of the life, I just wanted to be a normal teenage kid, and here I was being shipped of to a yeshiva. In an environment where you're not allowed to watch television, you can't read magazines or go to the movies, you can't fraternize with the opposite sex whatsoever, you have to wear the uniform every day of tzitzit, the button- down the shirts, the dress slacks, the shoes, you have to make sure you're not even wearing a kippa sruga, it was just stifling. So what did that end up turning into? I'd set my friends up on dates with girls that I knew, in defiance of the school. So I became the "pimp" of the school even though no such thing was happening Or I'd smoke a little bit of weed here and there, I‘d get my buddies high, so I was the drug dealer on campus even though that's not what I was doing. I just rebelled against the conformity — the gag reflex worked. When I got sent to Los Angeles, it wasn't any better — it was easier to get away with it because I wasn't in a dorm and living at the rabbi's house. Unfortunately, during Pessah cleaning, the rabbi was searching for hametz in the drawers and he found a half empty box of condoms and a half empty bag of weed, and that was the end of my living in the rabbi's house. I actually ended up graduating high school from the Ida Crown Jewish Academy in Chicago, which was the school I wanted to go to in the beginning.

The Jerusalem Post: Playing heavy metal, you must run into fans occasionally who espouse anti-Semitic or neo-Nazi sentiments. How do you deal with it?

Draiman: I'm incredibly defiant against neo-Nazis and skinheads. In fact, here's a true story that occurred in the band's infancy when we were playing Southside Chicago clubs. One of the guys who would come to see us was a skinhead, he had a swastika tattoo, the whole nine yards. After he became a die-hard fan, the band was sitting down having drinks after a show and he comes in and starts going on about niggers and Jews, and I interrupted him and said, "Dude, I don't know if you realize this but I'm Jewish." He responded, "You're Jewish! This completely changes my whole idea of what a Jew is supposed to be." And soon after that, he had his swastika removed, and denounced the skinhead culture. I've always been very proud of my heritage and where I come from, and I've defended it to the extent of being bloodied on many occasions. In fact, most of the fights I've been in my life — and there have been many — have been because I was defending my family or my faith. And I don't apologize for it. There's still anti-Semitism everywhere, and unfortunately, what has happened with our people no longer being the underdogs in this region, people's perception of Israel has changed dramatically. I find myself more and more having to defend us, and I will continue to do so. I wrote a song on our latest album, "Asylum", called "Never Again" about the Holocaust and the people who deny it, like Ahmadinejad, that piece of shit. And part of our live show includes a video presentation depicting him as the new Hitler. Believe you me, I've always been direct about hits, I never pull any punches and I will never apologize for who I am or where I come from.

Read the entire interview from The Jerusalem Post.

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