Serj Tankian has revealed in his new memoir, "Down With the System," that System of a Down had actually auditioned a musician to fill his role in the band, but it came after he had previously broached the idea of moving on so that the group could continue without him holding them back.

System of a Down famously went on hiatus after 2005's Mezmerize and Hypnotize albums, and while they have gotten back together to play occasional tours and one off dates, an attempt at creating new music together ended with artistic differences shutting down the sessions.

In addition, System have scaled back on touring in recent years as Tankian has shown less interest in lengthy tour runs and suffered a back injury that required surgery. Some of these issues lead up to Tankian's revelation in his book that the idea of moving forward without him has come up amidst himself and the band members.

What Serj Tankian Said About System of a Down Moving On Without Him

In an excerpt of the book shared by Rolling Stone, the singer reveals that “Daron [Malakian], Shavo [Odadjian], and John [Dolmayan] were always pushing to do more with System of a Down. I’d been the one holding them back, mostly because I didn’t really want to tour."

He later added, “Toward the end of 2017, we had a band meeting at [System manager] Beno’s office. When I arrived, I told everyone that I had an item I wanted to add to the agenda. We went through the rigamarole of regular business discussions, and then it came time for my item."

"‘So, who’s going to throw me a going-away party?’ I asked the group. ‘Do one of you guys want to be the master of ceremonies?’ I laughed a little, but I was serious. ‘Look guys, I’ve been very clear that I’m no longer interested in touring both due to my back and because it’s just no longer something within my vision."

READ MORE: Serj Tankian Opens Up on System of a Down's Potential Touring Future

‘The thing is, though,’ I continued, ‘I don’t want to hold you guys back. This is your dream. This is what you’ve worked for your whole life. You deserve to have this.’ I looked at Daron, Shavo, and John, knowing what I said next would hit hard. ‘I think you guys should find a new singer.’"

A Proposal

Tankian goes on to reveal that at one point in the band, he felt so strongly about it that he suggested that if any of the band members had left, they simply wouldn't use the group name anymore. But when Tankian suggested making it a legal document, the rest of the band resisted the idea.

"Probably because they sensed I was looking for a way out of the band at the time, and they weren’t ready to kiss it goodbye," he explains, adding, "I’d initially been upset that they didn’t see System the same way I did, but after a while, I stopped being so precious about it, and just thought of these three guys not as my bandmates but as my close friends.  That’s who they are to me still."

An Agreeable Exit?

"So what did I want for these three people whom I was closer with than anyone outside my own family? I wanted them to be happy," says Tankian in the book excerpt. "I wanted them not to have to depend on my health, my back, or my willingness to spend months on the road each year for them to have this band that they wanted so much. These three guys meant more to me than System of a Down had ever meant — and they still do."

"Of course, I wanted me to be happy, too. It seemed like the solution was to ease myself out of the band while they invited in a replacement. I told them I’d even help train a new singer."

Tankian says he offered to help make the transition amicable, agreeing to do press and speak positively about the move that would come with his support. While the idea wasn't completely dismissed, the response, according to the singer, was to hold off for the time being and that the band would not pressure him into doing things he wasn't able or interested in doing.

A Surprise Audition

While the idea to move forward without Tankian wasn't pushed forward, it wasn't forgotten. Tankian recalls in the book excerpt learning that the group did actually audition a singer without telling him.

"I sort of thought they’d forgotten about the whole idea of hiring a new singer, but a year or so later, John, Shavo, and I were at a fundraiser in Glendale, and this singer I knew got up and sang this beautiful Armenian song. Shavo was sitting next to me at the table. He leaned over and tapped me on the shoulder. ‘By the way,’ he nodded toward the singer, ‘we tried this guy out as a singer. The only problem was that he couldn’t scream and growl,’" recalled Tankian.

"I was taken aback. Not that they had been auditioning replacements, but that they’d kept it a secret. ‘Why didn’t you guys ever tell me?’ I whispered. Shavo shrugged. ‘I dunno.’ I turned toward Shavo, now looking directly at him. ‘Listen, he’s a good singer,’ I said. ‘I can literally take him in the parking lot right now and teach him how to growl. You should really consider him.’" said Tankian.

The vocalist says that in recent years he also pitched another friend to the band as a potential replacement, but wasn't sure if the other members took that suggestion seriously.

System of a Down in 2024

System of a Down recently headlined the Sick New World festival in Las Vegas and have one other show on the books for 2024. That would be another one-off performance at San Francisco's Golden Gate Park on Aug. 17 with co-headliners Deftones, along with The Mars Volta, Viagra Boys and VOWWS.

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Gallery Credit: Lauryn Schaffner