System of a Down’s Daron Malakian: Band Remains at Frustrating Creative Impasse With Serj Tankian
Eclectic alterna-metal rock stars System of a Down will play five West Coast U.S. shows this October as scheduled but it doesn't seem like the band members are getting any closer to new music because of creative differences with vocalist Serj Tankian.
"There's just a certain way that System make albums, and there's a bunch of us that want to make an album that way," guitarist Daron Malakian told Kerrang! "And there is, I guess, one of us, [Serj], that doesn't want to make an album that way and wants to make an album his way, and not everyone is on board with that."
The failure to agree on a musical direction has caused a creative impasse that Malakian finds frustrating. He insists that if Tankian was willing to be more flexible System of a Down could start recording the follow-up to their 2005 albums Mezmerize and Hypnotize.
"I have material for a new System album," Malakian insists. "Right now, if everyone got together and was ready to play ball, I have an album ready. If it was up to me, System would have never gone on hiatus."
Unfortunately for System fans, Tankian seems set in his ways and would rather remain on recording hiatus than compromise his artistic vision. "It may never be resolved; or it may be, but so far it hasn't been," Malakian said. "There was a time, I think, when I would have taken this a little bit more personally, but not anymore. I realize that it's not me. We've had so many meetings about it."
Malakian added that he feels bad about singling out Tankian as the source of System's musical drought. He's just telling it like it is. "I don't want to throw Serj under the bus — he's my friend and he's someone that I care about — but I don't know how to change his mind," says the guitarist. "We've all sat down and we've had meetings, and he's totally set in his way of thinking."
The creative differences between Serj and the rest of the band could stem from the singer's lack of interest in continuing to perform heavy music. "Serj was never really a heavy metal or a rock guy," Malakian explains. "I don't know if he has the same love for this kind of music as I do. I'm the kid that grew up with Slayer and KISS on my walls. I wanted to be like them some day. Serj didn't grow up feeling that way. He didn't grow up a diehard fan. So I feel like the whole experience of becoming the lead singer in a hugely successful band was different for him than my experience was for me."
Malakian added that the rest of the band haven't been on the same page creatively with Tankian since even prior to their recording hiatus. "To be honest with you, Serj didn't even want to make Mezmerize and Hypnotize. We really begged him to make those records. At that time, he felt like he was out," says the guitarist.
On July 20, Malakian will issue the second album by his band Scars on Broadway, Dictator. He tracked the album in 2012 but shelved it in the hopes that System would record a new album. When he realized that wasn't going to happen any time soon he made plans to release Dictator.
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