|Out Of The Blue
Publications Association, LLC
|OOTB PUBLICATIONS | OOTB646.COM
Drummer Mike Wengren discusses new band Fight Or Flight and status of Disturbed
Since the hiatus of multi-platinum band Disturbed, guitarist Dan Donegan teamed with Evans Blue vocalist
Dan Chandler to write songs and eventually form Fight Or Flight alongside Disturbed drummer Mike Wengren,
Bellevue Suite guitarist Jeremy Jayson and ex-Ra bassist Sean Corcoran. The hard rock group with rotating single
"First of The Last" is set to release its debut album A Life By Design? on Warner Bros. Records July 23. In this
exclusive interview with Out Of The Blue, Wengren discusses his drive and enthusiasm for music and establishing
Fight Or Flight, the challenge of avoiding a Disturbed songwriting mindset, Disturbed becoming a routine "write, record,
tour" formula machine and his appreciation for having a wholehearted fan base.
OOTB: How were you first introduced to Fight Or Flight?
My wife and I had recently moved during the Disturbed break and we had a house warming party, so Dan Donegan
[Disturbed guitarist] and his wife came to the party and he pulled me aside while he was there and said, “I know we’ve
been taking a break, but I’ve been working on some new material and I’d like to see if you’d be interested in being
involved.” I pretty much told him yes right there without even hearing any of the music. I was itching to do something.
Dan and I had been playing together for 20 plus years, way before Disturbed, so it was an easy thing to say yes to.
And obviously once I heard the music, I was all over it for sure.
OOTB: How did the song writing process work from there? It sounds like Dan had a lot of it ready to go.
Yeah, he and Dan Chandler [Evans Blue vocalist] had the bulk of the material written. We have our home studios
and whatnot so he had some ideas for drums programmed, but he obviously wanted a live element added to it.
I just put my stamp on it and we decided to go into the studio and record it and see how it came out.
OOTB: How would you say the Fight Or Flight album was approached differently or similarly when compared to
working with Dan and developing previous Disturbed albums together?
It was definitely a different departure for us. In the Disturbed days, the way we’ve always done things was either
I would start a beat or Dan would start a riff and we’d just sit in the room together and structure the song that way.
Once we had a pretty decent idea of a song, we’d record a demo of it and then send them off to David [Draiman] for
his parts and then the three of us would build it on from there. Vocals were usually one of the last items and music was
first. And in this case, Dan Chandler is also a musician, he plays guitar. So he was able to write music for a lot of the
stuff as well. It was really great having another musical contributor involved. A lot of this stuff really started with Dan
Chandler as well as Dan Donegan. It started off that way and I got involved and added my stamp with the drum beats.
"... if I'm not playing music, I feel like I'm not a whole person."
OOTB: What message would you like the band to convey to fans when the album releases on July 23rd?
I don’t know if we necessarily have a message in mind. For us the band is just about the passion to play. We don’t
need to be doing this. Dan and I have had a very successful career with Disturbed and we can retire probably for the
rest of our lives and take care of our families, but music is something that’s part of me and if I’m not playing music,
I feel like I’m not a whole person. We started this just to do something fresh and to do something new and to get back
to having fun and playing again. We’ve been having rehearsals lately and the band is sounding really great and we’re
excited to get on the road and start playing the material for everybody.
"Disturbed just became such a machine. It was bigger than any of us."
OOTB: When branching away from Disturbed did you have any apprehensions or was there more of a relaxed feeling?
Disturbed just became such a machine. It was bigger than any of us. I’m not saying that I’d never go back to it, I love
the songs and the fans are amazing, I want to play those songs again someday. But right now, there’s no expectations
here. We can do anything we want and it was great to think outside the box and do something that we haven’t done.
OOTB: When putting your stamp on songs were you ever inclined to think, “man, this sounds like a Disturbed song.”?
Was it hard to break away from that musical formula and foundation you established with Disturbed for so many years?
That was actually very challenging. We had just been in Disturbed for so long and it became a machine.
We pretty much did everything the same way every time. It was write, record, tour. There was always a process of
how we did it and our mentality is, if it isn’t broke don’t fix it, and it worked, so it was just repeating and repeating and
repeating and it became a bit monotonous. As far as the writing process is concerned, musicians have their own style
and they’re going to sound like themselves. So, when you put Dan and I together, obviously that’s half of Disturbed,
so there will probably be a couple elements here and there where people are going to think, “yeah, that definitely
sounds a little bit like Disturbed.” But, we were very conscious about trying not to sound like Disturbed. I tried to be not
as syncopated and play with a little bit more finesse with maybe my hand as far as cymbals and hi-hat here and there
whereas in Disturbed my technique is mainly based off of syncopation and polynotes. It was definitely very challenging
to just try and think differently. It was really, really challenging, but it was also inspiring at the same time and I think I’ve
become a better musician because of it.
"There will be a day when I will want to play those songs again, but right now as far as we're thinking it's all
about Fight Or Flight for us."
OOTB: To make things clear with the status of Disturbed, you are all still in communication as friends and not foes.
Absolutely. We’re all separately busy with our own individual projects these days, but we’re still in communication.
We’re really fortunate to have had the career that we’ve had with Disturbed and our fans are amazing and I will always
love those songs. There will be a day when I will want to play those songs again, but right now as far as we’re thinking
it’s all about Fight Or Flight for us. We’re always passionate about anything we do and we’ve put so much time and
energy and love and care into this music with Fight Or Flight. I don’t want to just half-fast it, this isn’t some little pet
project that is just buying time for now and then we’ll go back to Disturbed in six months, a year or whatever. I don’t
know what the time frame is, but I want to see Fight Or Flight grow and become it’s own band and have it’s own
success. And that’s just where our heads are right now.
OOTB: With the new single and video for "First of The Last," can you elaborate on the song’s meaning and approach?
With the video we’re all kind of conspiracy nuts. (laughs) I’m not saying we believe all that stuff and we’re not trying to
preach and we’re not trying to convince everybody to believe that stuff either, but we just find it really fascinating.
Some of the stories are pretty over the top and definitely ridiculous, but there are other ones that are interesting.
We thought it would be a cool concept to put the video together and put some points across. If anything just open
people’s eyes and make you think. Judge for yourself, we’re not telling you that the government’s against you, we’re
not telling you that there’s aliens controlling the planet or anything goofy like that. It’s meant to be a little tongue and
cheek, but there’s some seriousness to it as well. We’re just saying: think for yourself.
"We love to work and it's going to be a challenge to build this band, but it's a challenge we look forward to...
We look forward to building it from the ground up."
OOTB: Are you more of a fight person or a flight person when it comes to conflict?
I’m always a fighter. I never choose flight. I’m actually a student pilot (laughs), so that’s the only flying I do. The name
“Fight Or Flight” really has to do with representing the work ethic that we all have in this band. Like I said before,
especially Dan Donegan and myself, it's the time, energy and effort that goes into writing a song or putting a record
together and putting a band together and to get ready to go on tour. This is low budget right out of the gate, a new
thing we’re starting over. We’re not even going to be on a bus the first run and that’s okay because I’m loving it. It’s all
about the passion. It’s the work ethic that’s inside us. We love to work and it’s going to be a challenge to build this
band, but it’s a challenge we look forward to. I love challenges. I live to persevere.
OOTB: You consider it a fresh start, almost like a local band trying to build itself from scratch.
Absolutely. That’s exactly the mind frame we have here. This is just a new local band that’s starting out. Yes, I know
with the success of Disturbed and Evans Blue there’s some notoriety out there. We have our fans based off of those
other bands, but this is an entirely new band and we’re looking forward to building it from the ground up.
OOTB: What’s next for the band as far as possible touring?
Our first show is in Wisconsin on July 16 and that’s going to be us opening for Avenged Sevenfold. It’ll be great to see
those guys again, we’ve done plenty of touring with them in the past with Disturbed. We’re trying to get some dates
booked and go out and start playing these songs. There will be a couple radio shows, a couple smaller festivals
coming and we’re trying to fill the dates around those. Maybe start out with our own small headlining club run and build
it from there.
"We're not turning our backs on them as far as Disturbed is concerned, this is just where our heads are at."
OOTB: Is there anything else you’d like to add?
If we can just talk to our Disturbed fans and let them know that I definitely appreciate everything they’ve ever done for
us and their passion and their love. We’re not turning our backs on them as far as Disturbed is concerned, this is just
where our heads are at. This is something we want to do, this is something we need to do and right now it’s all about
Fight Or Flight for us.
FIGHT OR FLIGHT LINKS
Watch "First of The Last" video
Fight Or Flight guitarist Dan Donegan, bassist Sean Corcoran, vocalist Dan Chandler,
guitarist Jeremy Jayson, drummer Mike Wengren. (Publicity Photo By Donny Phillips)
Live Photo of Mike Wengren
By Jared Perkins, OOTB Publications
Live Photo of Mike Wergren
By Neil Shumate, OOTB Publications
Live Photo of Dan Donegan
By Neil Shumate, OOTB Publications
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