Serj Tankian: Artistic Differences With System of a Down ‘Not a Bad Thing’
Will there ever be another System of a Down album? Though Serj Tankian previously addressed what happened at the time they emerged from studio sessions with no new album, he's offered more insight in a recent chat with Sona Oganesyan (seen below).
Hopes rose for a new record in 2016, but were later dashed when System of a Down reunited in the studio to work on new music, but ultimately disagreed on the direction. Some grievances were aired in public, with Daron Malakian eventually pushing forward with music for Scars on Broadway, while Tankian directed some of his material to a solo release. However, the studio disappointment has not kept the veteran group from touring.
At the time, Tankian took responsibility for the band's 2006 hiatus, but also spoke of his displeasure with how "artistic and egalitarian differences" led to strained relationships. "Ultimately I had to draw a line in the sand because I knew I could never be happy going back to how things used to be within the band," he explained in 2018. "And as we couldn’t see eye to eye on all these points we decided to put aside the idea of a record altogether for the time being."
In the new chat, Tankian tells Oganesyan, “I think we all see eye to eye and we respect each other as friends and band members, which is why we tour, which is why we have fun together, we rehearse together, we’re in the same space, we crack jokes. Our only problem is [not] seeing eye to eye artistically, and that’s not a bad thing. That’s what artists are."
He related to the host, "Your dad’s an amazing painter. If he was to have to paint with someone else, who may be one of his best friends, but if they were doing a piece together, and even if your dad respected that guy’s work and if they were doing it together but your dad really wasn’t into the piece, and they just couldn’t agree on it, that’s okay — they can still remain friends and just not agree on the piece. So that’s really what happened with us ultimately. There were woes of the past, which were aired, and I’m glad they were aired, because it needed to get out — not in public, but amongst us. And they were, and that happened. So that’s fine. The truth is all out there. You can go read it. I don’t need to regurgitate it. But the important thing is that we’ve gone beyond that.”
He continued, "The question is, will there be another System record? I don’t know. But the important thing is that we enjoy each other. My friendship to Daron and the rest of the guys has always meant more than System of a Down to me. Not everyone will say that to you, but I’ve always said that. Because that, to me, is more important. Because that’s where it started. The music was a byproduct of our friendship; our friendship wasn’t a byproduct of our music."
The singer concludes, "Everyone has a different way of looking at stuff. We’re four quite different personalities, and irrespective of being friends and all being Armenian, we’re quite different from each other, all of us. And that’s okay. That’s what’s made the music great. So it’s done that. But at the same time, we’re not all the same, we’re not always on the same page, and we’ll never be, really. And that’s okay.”
Tankian has also been in the headlines of late as he and drummer John Dolmayan have both been vocal in their commentary of the current U.S. administration, often sharing opposing viewpoints. But this past week, Tankian quelled any speculation of a divide between the pair.
"My drummer and brother in law @johndolmayan_ whom I love and respect irrespective of our extremely polarized political commentary and differences has always been my stalwart ally in efforts for recognition of the Armenian genocide within SOAD," started Tankian, adding, "The amount of online hate and stupidity against him and I are unjustifiable: social media has created an erroneous digital society that partially thrives on this reality."
He continued, "Remember irrespective of the stance, only artists that truly care and are impassioned will risk alienating their base for what they consider the truth. Our dilemma and possible fallacy is that we have two in one band. Some may consider that a weakness but the artistic, political and social dichotomy if not quadrichotomy (not a word) has made @systemofadown what it is today. Thank you all for reading. We should all do more non-online reading."
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