Exclusive Interview with Ben Draiman on his cover of Disturbed’s “Stricken”

Posted: October 19, 2013 in Entertainment, Feed your Soul, Interview, music, New Music, New Release, rock, Tuesdays Travels
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Ben Draiman

Just over a month ago, we featured the very talented Ben Draiman for our Tuesdays Travels pick. He had mentioned he was working on a cover he was soon to release. Well, the time has come and the cover is out and is AMAZING! Ben has released his new interpretation of Disturbed’s “Stricken“. As you might know, Ben is the younger brother of David Draiman from Disturbed/Device.  He has taken a great metal song and transformed it into a spectacular ballad. We had the opportunity to interview Ben to discuss more about this remarkable cover.  First check out the cover:


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Music Junkie Press: Thank you Ben for taking the time to talk with us about your recent cover.  I know that in the past you have covered another Disturbed song, “Darkness” as you paid tribute to your brother David while he was visiting you at one of your shows.  Can you tell us what made you choose “Stricken” for your next cover?

Ben: It’s a good thing you mentioned “Darkness”!  That wasn’t exactly my best work but it became so popular I didn’t have the heart to take it down.  This was my opportunity to redeem myself and I’m hoping it will exceed “Darkness” in popularity.  The idea first came about when I was discussing successful covers with my friend and producer, Raz Klinghoffer, who had just released a cover of his own with his project “Earlyrise”.  He had said that some of the best covers are ones that change the song 180 degrees and that if I was going to do a slow cover best to choose a fast paced song.  I honestly didn’t think it would work.  “Stricken” has long been one of my favorites and that very night I went to the piano and tried it.  I play by ear so it didn’t take me long to come up with a basic arrangement.  It became instantly clear that the lyrics and the melody lent themselves well to a ballad and I was immediately hooked. 

Music Junkie Press: That is so true what Raz Klinghoffer said about changing it to that level. That has definitely been what drew me in with all of my favorite covers.  You have taken one of the most popular hard rock/metal songs and have transformed it into a symphonic ballad. You literally gave us chills when we listened to it for the first time.  Your interpretation really allows the listener to completely envelope themselves into the lyrics. It has to be one of the top break-up/heartbreaker songs out. I can only imagine the emotional process/journey that this cover created for you. Can you tell me more about the making of “Stricken”?

Ben: First of all thank you so much!  I’m glad it had an impact on you!  Truth be told when I played it for the first couple of times it was intensely emotional and I connected to the lyrics as well as the melody very deeply.  I found myself playing it alot and some of the parts were challenging at first for my voice so I worked on it together with my vocal coach, Grace Woolfe, and with her help I was able to master it.  I tried it out a few times at live shows and the feedback was so great that I eventually incorporated it in my set list on a regular basis.  Later on, I approached my good friends Yuval Kramer and Nina Vouraki, both of which are outstanding musicians, and we decided to record the project together at Yuval’s studio which is not too far from Jerusalem. 

Music Junkie Press: Where did you record it at and who else performs with you on the cover?

Ben: As I mentioned previously it was recorded, mixed, and mastered by Yuval Kramer at his studio just outside of Jerusalem.  His finacee, Nina Vouraki plays piano on the track, and eventually we brought in a good friend and an exceptional violin player Ariella Zeitlin-Hoffman to add some genuine violin parts to the mix.  Both Nina and Yuval are part of a symphonic metal group called “Reign of the Architect” and I really wanted to incorporate some of the elements from their music as well so it would be a full-on collaboration. Yuval is a master at layering orchestra parts and bringing out the epic elements of a song, while Nina is a classically trained pianist, originally from Greece, who could come up with far more complex and interesting arrangements than I ever could. We brought in my vocal coach, Grace Woolfe, when we recorded the vocals in order to insure that we could get the maximum out of the session.  Yuval strongly believed and encouraged the best emotional performance one could do, over pitch quality and making mistakes from time to time.  His words were “you need to commit suicide on the microphone”.  To achieve that I recorded the track in perfect darkness and we were able to get what we wanted in only a few takes.  Capturing that sort of intensity in the studio is not an easy accomplishment and I owe a great deal of debt to Yuval, Nina, and Grace for helping me get there.

Music Junkie Press:   That is amazing. I can only imagine the recording process and it must have been intense and what you gave us was pure bliss.   You have had at last count over 17,000 views in less than a week’s time and all the positive and heartfelt comments/reactions, how do you feel about it?

Ben: The current count is a bit over 19,000 and we’re getting about 1000 – 2000 views a day.  The response has blown me away!  I was hoping that it would be warmly received but it’s without question the most explosive thing I’ve done to date, getting so far in such a short amount of time.  I don’t even have to ask people to share, they seem to be doing it on their own.  I took a huge risk by changing such a popular song by such devoted fans such as Disturbed so I’m relieved that they reacted as they did.  But I think overall you know in your heart, you get a certain buzzing excitement when something works so I was fairly optimistic.  I’m hoping that it will continue and spread further on the internet. 

Music Junkie Press: The reactions and comments have been coming in from long time Disturbed fans, to artists from a variety of genres, to fans who have never heard of Disturbed and they are just amazing to read how deeply your version has touched them. You have comments coming in daily and some include from Zach Myers (Shinedown) Lzzy Hale (Halestorm) and so many more. Have you heard from your brother David on the cover and did he get  a preview of it before release?

Ben: Of course.  I sent it to him after we had mastered it and was extremely nervous to hear his response.  I know myself that my art and my music is very sacred and it’s not easy to accept a reinterpretation of it.  And while I had already done “Darkness”, which was performed in honor of his coming to one of my shows, that was still MUCH closer to the original than this was.  I still remember when I got the e-mail back from him.  I nearly had a heart attack fearing he may not like it and won’t want us to release it.  But much to my relief he liked it a lot so once we had his approval we moved forward.  Since then the other guys from Disturbed have heard it as well and expressed how much they liked it as well. 

Music Junkie Press: It is amazing to see so much talent come from your family and awesome for you two to share in that with this special song. What is most important to me with this cover is to see people listening to you and then to see them asking about your album, own work, etc. I can’t wait for more people to hear and pick up your last EP “The Past is Not Far Behind” which is a true musical gem.  Can they continue to pick up that EP through your site?

Ben: Well thank you for that!  It’s certainly important to me as well. They can definitely order the album.  In fact some might even get a special surprise when they order. This week alone I sold more copies than I’ve ever sold, and I still haven’t gotten the reports back from itunes and amazon. 

Music Junkie Press:  I am sure many more orders will be coming in. We received such great feedback on our initial write up to you where we talked about your album. Are you currently working on a new album?

Ben: I actually have a few things that I’m currently working on.  Nina, Yuval, and I will be doing another single together, this time one of mine.  Our chemistry was really so magical that it was an obvious move on our part.  I will be doing a video for and officially releasing “Taken for Granted” at some point in the future together with the editor for “Avalanche”, Roy Kanevsky, who will be directing this one in its entirety.  In addition, I will be doing a project with my friend and producer Raz Klinghoffer in the form of a band under a different name.  We have begun work on a full-length album that will be far more rock and a little heavier than what I’ve done till now which I hope will satisfy the growing number of rock and metal fans I’ve accumulated over the years.  But it will not be metal.  That I can assure you! It will take at least a year before that is even close to ready, so please be patient.

Music Junkie Press: We will all be waiting and excited for what your next endeavors will bring. Lastly, is there anything else you would like to share with our audience?

Ben: I just want to thank everyone for continuing to be supportive and constantly giving me the incentive to keep doing what I’m doing.  I read every word that you send me and it means the world to me!   Thank you for sharing and helping get the word out and please continue to do so! 

And thank you Marisol for taking the time to feature me here and allow me a space to tell my story!

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It was an honor to feature Ben and his music. If you haven’t already, please do check out Ben’s music at his website of www.bendraiman.com  and you can read a review of his EP The Past is Not Far Behind here.  I will leave you with the video for “Avalanche” which is from his new  EP.

~ Marisol



Information & Links:

Ben Draiman

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