Yuri Wuensch of the Edmonton Sun recently spoke to DISTURBED drummer Mike Wengren about the band's tribute concert to late PANTERA/DAMAGEPLAN guitarist "Dimebag" Darrell Abbott, who was killed in December 2004 during a DAMAGEPLAN concert in Ohio.
"It was really cool, unbelievable," Wengren recalled. "All the bands and crew members donated their time. Everybody was amazing. We gave the money to all the families of the people that were killed, including, of course, Dime. Obviously, we had a lot of fans in our hometown Chicago that came out to support it."
The February 2005 show was made more poignant because of the participation of Abbott's brother and former PANTERA drummer Vinnie Paul. It was the first time he'd got behind a drum kit since the shooting.
"The last time I spoke with him, he said it's just not the same without Dime," said Wengren. "Even though he still loves music, he thinks he's going to try the producing end more. I mean, if the right situation comes up, he'll never close the door to playing in a band again. But I think he's lost some of his drive to get back out there."
Wengren said many regard Dimebag's death as the 9-11 of rock.
"Sure, people in the music industry have been killed before, like John Lennon," Wengren said. "But he wasn't killed when he was performing. Dime was the first musician in history to be killed onstage.
"Not once before that did I ever think my life was in danger. We're always trying to be very personal and very accessible to our fans. When a show is over, we like to go out into the crowd and meet people, shake hands, sign autographs — I don't ever want that to change. But I'd be lying if I said I wasn't nervous sometimes."
Wengren also spoke to the Edmonton Sun about DISTURBED's vocal minority of detractors, which the band found hard to ignore. Like many bands, Wengren said DISTURBED was eventually forced to close down its online message board because of the haters.
"There was a lot of abuse on the site," he said. "We wouldn't censor what people were saying, but it just got out of hand. Even though there were only a few bad apples that spoiled the bunch, it kind of sucks that we had to shut down our 'free' message board. The drama was like 'The Jerry Springer Show'.
"We have a fan-club site with a message board that has a membership fee of about $20 a year. I don't like the idea that people have to pay money to come and talk to us. But on the other end of it, we can weed out the knuckleheads that would come onto the board just to make trouble."