Musical taste is subjective. Some people like it hard and heavy, others appreciate a softer, catchy melody. Regardless of what side of the divide you potentially stand on, it’s usually a good practice to keep your mouth shut about stuff you don’t like, especially if you happen to play in a band and have access to the press.
When California emo rockers Finch ran their mouths about Disturbed, they might have anticipated a minor war of words to go down. However, they clearly didn’t envision their violent rhetoric to be met with real-life violence.
The tension between the bands originated from a 2002 interview during which Finch guitarist Randy Strohmeyer made derogatory remarks about Disturbed and issued a threat against frontman David Draiman‘s life.
“I’d shoot him in the fucking head,” the guitarist said in an interview with MeanStreet magazine. “I’d rip his stupid little piercings out. They’re just cheesy. It bums me out because their music is terrible, and what they’re all about, it’s just sh–. Hopefully, all that music will die out soon.”
Things turned ugly when both bands were booked to play the Rolling Rock Town Fair in Latrobe, Pennsylvania in the summer of 2004. When Disturbed guitarist Dan Donegan and Draiman stood sidestage to watch Three Days Grace, the last thing they expected was to see Finch appear in front of them when the rotating stage switched bands.
As the emo band was getting ready to kick off their performance, an altercation erupted when Disturbed guitarist Don Donegan approached Strohmeyer at the beginning of their set. Witnesses reported that a scuffle ensued, with Strohmeyer’s bandmates and crew members quickly joining the melee. Draiman and Disturbed manager Jeff Battaglia also got involved in the physical altercation. While there were no reported injuries, one member of Finch was seen wildly swinging his guitar, narrowly avoiding a strike to Draiman’s head.
Once the dust settled, Finch continued with their concert. Security accompanied the band to their tour bus after the show, which was then carefully escorted away from the venue to avoid any further confrontations. This precaution was taken because Disturbed, their crew, and even members of Sevendust were lingering backstage with obvious malicious intent.
“By the time we got them offstage, Disturbed had a chance to rally their troops, including Sevendust and some of their roadies,” said Track Entertainment president Lee Heiman, whose company handled the production of the festival. “And then we would have a mob situation. They were out for blood. It was bad.”
Intense as it might have been, Donegan clarified that seeking revenge wasn’t the main driving force behind the expected post-concert confrontation. According to the guitarist, he approached Finch only to ask why he made the threats.
“We didn’t want anything happening onstage, and so out of respect for security and the promoters, we got offstage,” said Donegan. “We waited for them to come off, and if they wanted to explain themselves or finish it up, we were up for either one.”
The guitarist continued: “I can take anybody saying they don’t like the band, but the second that the guy makes a statement that he wants to put a bullet in someone’s head, I take it seriously. If they weren’t serious, why haven’t they made any attempts in the past year and a half to clear the air or say, ‘Hey, guys, it was all in good fun,’ or ‘It was a joke done in bad taste’?”
Finch shared their side of the story via a statement on their website, saying: “While we were setting up, one of the members of Disturbed, Dan Donegan, was harassing us from the side of the stage. Before we were to play, Randy walked over to Dan to explain that the comments he made a few years ago were a joke, and to give him a friendly handshake. Dan proceed to assault Randy, and Disturbed’s singer, David Draiman, attacked Mike Herrara (our drum tech), which caused a fight to ensue. We want everyone to know that Finch did not start this fight. However, we do not take kindly to being assaulted or having our lives threatened.”
Donegan claimed that this description of the incident was far from accurate and clarified that there was no premeditated ambush of Finch since only he, Draiman, and their manager were part of the incident. Donegan, along with his wife and 8-month-old daughter, was watching Three Days Grace from the side of the stage when the stage rotation revealed Finch. According to Donegan, when the members of the emo band noticed their presence, they began pointing and laughing, prompting him to approach them for an explanation.
“If somebody thinks we planned on attacking them, why would I do it with my daughter there? David was walking his dog and holding a leash. Why would we do that when we’re outnumbered three guys to their band and crew?”