SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA - MARCH 16: David Draiman of Disturbed performs at The Fillmore on March 16, 2016 in San Francisco,
Miikka Skaffari/FilmMagic

Not many people would have put money on Disturbed’s biggest-ever hit to be a slow, gentle piano ballad, considering their nearly two decades together of unfurling aggressive metal tunes to burgeoning audiences. But here we are, with a cover of Simon & Garfunkel’s “The Sound of Silence” eclipsing hard-rock smashes like “Down with the Sickness” and “Stupify” to become the band’s highest-charting hit on the Billboard Hot 100, climbing to No. 51 on the chart last week.

David Draiman, the longtime frontman for the group, tells Fuse that the reaction to the song—originally released on last year’s Immortalized LP— goes “way above and beyond” the band’s expectations when the change-of-pace cover was released.

“You always hope to transcend what you’ve already done, and this certainly seems to be doing just that,” Draiman says. “We really couldn’t be happier. We welcome anyone and everyone to the fold, and it’s just great to know that the emotion and the style of this particular version of this song is affecting so many people.”

Disturbed didn’t necessarily need a crossover Hot 100 hit; the Chicago band’s last five albums, dating back to 2002’s Believe and including last year’s Immortalized, all hit No. 1 on the Billboard 200 charts. However, Draiman confirms that “The Sound of Silence”—which the band poignantly performed on Conan last month—has noticeably opened up the metal group to a new audience not previously down with their long-running sickness.

“I get contacted by, and reactions from, people who have either never heard of us before, or hadn’t heard from us in quite some time,” he says. “Sometimes people are familiar with the songs but not the band, per se. This whole new door that has opened to us has been really amazing—getting people from all walks of life, getting people who probably wouldn’t initially be drawn to what we do, but this song has been a key to unlock the door. Even if people just fall in love with this version of the song, it’s given them the opportunity to check out the rest of our catalogue and they end up falling in love with a lot of it. It’s been a really fantastic catalyst for growth.”

The “Sound of Silence” cover, originally suggested by drummer Mike Wengren, is the third single from Immortalized following “The Vengeful One” and “The Light.” Its success, highlighted by the Conan performance, drew praise from an unexpected source: Paul Simon, who wrote the song in 1963 and '64.

“Paul Simon reached out to me directly,” says Draiman. “He got my email from our management, his management reached out, and he said how much he loved the song. He reached out right after the Conan performance. He watched it and was very impressed with it, and said some amazing things that I couldn’t help but post to our Facebook page. I fangirled for a second!

“He ended up posting it on his own personal Facebook page, and it’s really been unbelievably gratifying,” he continues. “When the original songwriter himself gives his blessing and compliments you on what you’ve done, when our entire intention was to pay homage to one of the most prolific and gifted songwriters of all time, it’s truly overwhelming and incredibly surreal, and a very big shock. We couldn’t have hoped for a more positive outcome. It’s wonderful knowing that he loves it.”

Disturbed has included a cover song with every album release, from takes on U2 to Faith No More to Tears for Fears. Draiman says that the covers will keep coming, but that “The Sound of Silence” in particular has signified that it’s okay for Disturbed to change up their sound every now and then.

“Something that we consciously recognized when we were writing the Immortalized album was that there’s no longer any reason for us to have any creative or stylistic limitations of any kind,” Draiman says. “This track and the success that it has seen is only further proof and validation of that. I’m not saying that all of a sudden we’re going to become an orchestral, ambient, acoustic, operatic band, but that definitely is something that we can have as part of our repertoire. We’ll primarily be aggressive and rhythmic and empowering and driving, but it’s always nice to have a caress that happens in between the multiple slaps to the face.”