Life & Culture

David Draiman: Defending Israel, getting divorced and his quest for love

Draiman, the frontman of US heavy metal band Disturbed, is about to perform in Israel


CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 10: David Draiman of Disturbed performs at SiriusXM Presents Disturbed Live From The Vic Theatre In Chicago on October 10, 2018 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jeff Schear/Getty Images for SiriusXM)

If you’re a single lady with a penchant for dating apps, the last person you’d expect to meet while swiping is a Jewish rock star who has sold 17 million records worldwide.

But David Draiman, the frontman of the hugely popular heavy metal band Disturbed, has been dabbling — unhappily — with Tinder. “What an absolute train wreck that was,” he says.

“So many fakes and scammers and crude and lewd people. It’s hard being an honourable man in a dishonourable world. I need a good shidduch.” Draiman, 50, is speaking to the JC shortly before his band comes to Tel Aviv in June on their Take Back Your Life tour.

It has not been an easy few months. Earlier this year, he divorced his wife of 12 years, Lena, and his dog, Gabriel, died. “I moved into this new house that could accommodate a 110lb male Akita and then had to say goodbye to him,” he says. “Everywhere in the house reminded me of him.”

Draiman speaks frankly about his mental health. He said: “There is no science to it. Depression isn’t something you can control. But filling my life with positivity and trying to look ahead, I’m definitely a lot better than I was three months ago. That period was as dark as it has ever been.”

He says spending time with his ten-year-old son and performing helped. His mood lifts when he talks about his son. He says: “He’s literally like a ball of light everywhere he goes and not afraid to talk to everyone. He gets that more from his mother than me.”

Reeling off a list of his son’s achievements — “he’s a Jiujitsu practitioner, he’s in the ‘gifted’ [stream] at school” — Draiman reveals that his son is also following in his musical footsteps.

“He’s studying guitar,” he says. “He’s in a band in a school of rock in Miami. He’s inspiring.”

As for performing in front of thousands of people, he compares it to group therapy. He says: “Getting in front of the crowd and being very frank and open and honest about [my mental health] has actually been incredibly effective. I’ve been getting better and better as we go along.”

Although he is based in the United States, Draiman’s parents live in Israel, so every rocket worries him. “It never stops,” he says. “The cycle repeats every year. Thank God things have calmed down. I keep an eye on them and am looking forward to seeing them when I come to Israel to perform.”

Draiman has “2,000-plus relatives all over Israel”. Explaining this startlingly large figure, he adds: “Everywhere I go, there’s someone I am related to.”

Unable to get together with all the mishpacha during a single visit to Israel, he has come up with the perfect solution.

He said: “Some are always going to be upset that I didn’t see them, so I invite them to the show to come and see me.” In fact, Draiman’s Yemeni-born grandmother watched

Disturbed’s last show in Israel was in 2019. “It was a dream come true,” he says.

The Down with the Sickness singer is also a determined opponent of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement and often finds himself at the receiving end of online abuse for his staunchly pro-Israel views.

He rails against claims that singer-songwriter Sam Smith cancelled his show at the end of this month due to pressure from activists.

“BDS is always looking for ways to empower themselves and they love to take responsibility for things they have nothing to do with. That’s what the Roger Waters of this world want us to think, [But] the vast majority of cancellations have nothing to do with BDS,” he says.

Draiman says that Smith’s show was cancelled “due to poor ticket sales. In fact all of the Israeli shows right now are suffering from poor ticket sales.”

As for rising antisemitism, Draiman is equally concerned. “How can you not be worried about it?” he says.

Referring to some Democrat politicians, he says: “They pretend to represent everyone when they don’t. It’s very scary how they keep on stirring the pot of antisemitism on a daily basis, under the guise of being social justice warriors, with no repercussions.”

He adds: “The Jews have always been the bogeyman, the scapegoat, [targets of the] world’s oldest hatred. We have to be stronger. I have never seen the world like this before. We have to be diligent and prove them wrong.”

For his part, Draiman says he will keep doing everything he can to convince bands to perform in Israel. “Music shouldn’t be used against the people,” he says. “It’s meant to unite.”

Israel will surely embrace Draiman when he himself arrives in June. Maybe that will be the moment to switch Tinder back on, David.

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