System Of A Down

Daron Malakian Speaks On Serj Tankian Being The Holdout On A New System Of A Down Album: “I Don’t Know How To Change His Mind”


It’s often been speculated and hinted at that System Of A Down frontman Serj Tankian remains the holdout when it comes to the band making another album. Despite the group having written over a dozen new songs for a potential new album—some of which Tankian was apparently involved in—the group have been unable to agree how to proceed with the effort.

In a new interview with Kerrang!, the band’s guitarist Daron Malakian opened up on the matter. When asked if he felt that at this point System Of A Down are only a franchise that exists to make money (the band continue to tour though they haven’t released an album since 2005,) Malakian replied:

“No, because we enjoy playing the songs, and we enjoy going out on tour. We have fun doing it. When it comes to making another album, 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 and there is, I guess, one of us that doesn’t want to make an album his way. And not everyone is on board with that. That’s been the issue.

I have material for a new System album. 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.”

When asked directly if it was a ‘creative fracture’ between the band and their frontman Serj Tankian and how it could be resolved, Malakian responded:

“It may never be resolved, or it may be, but so far it hasn’t been. There was a time, I think, when I would have taken this a little more personally, but not anymore.

I realize that it’s not me. We’ve had so many meetings about it. 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.

We’ve all sat down and we’ve had meetings, and he’s totally set in his way of thinking. Serj was never really a heavy metal or a rock guy. 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.”

When told that it seemed criminal that he hadn’t released much music himself in the past decade, Malakian further stated:

“…A lot of that is System-related. I could put a song out as System Of A Down and it would be a bigger deal than if I put it out as a Scars On Broadway song, even though it would be the same song, same melody, same lyrics, same everything.

But as Scars On Broadway, it isn’t such a big deal. And it makes me think that it’s funny that people listen to music in the same way that they’d choose a pair of jeans. It’s become like a brand. Bands are like brands, I suppose, and that’s kind of frustrating for me.

To be honest with you, Serj didn’t even want to make “Mezmerize” and “Hypnotize“. We really begged him to make those records. At the time he felt like he was out.”

Malakian also went on to discuss how System Of A Down led to the initial hiatus of Scars On Broadway. Malakian initially had planned to release a sophomore effort from Scars On Broadway back in 2012, though he held off in case he wanted to cannibalize song ideas from it for System Of A Down. When asked why he had previously pulled the plug on Scars On Broadway, he offered:

“Because I realized that my songs were not getting the same love because they were not played by System Of A Down. Nobody knew that when we went on hiatus that it was going to last for this long.

I didn’t event want System to take a hiatus. If you were talking to me back then I would have said that we’d be taking a three or four-year break, tops.

That is my biggest frustration. I thought, ‘Why am I starting this whole brand new thing? I’ll just take a break for a few years and then we’ll go back to System Of A Down.’

That way of thinking has kept me from putting out an album for 10 years because every few years the discussion about making a new System album would come up again.

And I made System my priority—I mean, I formed the band, for Christsakes. It was my baby and I stayed loyal to that.

Because of that commitment I haven’t put out music for 10 years, even though I’ve been writing a lot of stuff. I have a shit ton of material.”

Malakian himself will be releasing “Dictator‘, the long-awaited new album from Scars On Broadway, on July 20th. Meanwhile, System Of A Down will be touring the West Coast later this year with the below dates booked:

10/06-07 Teotihuacan, MEX – Force Fest
10/13 San Bernardino, CA – Glen Helen Amphitheater (feat. Incubus, At The Drive In, Clutch, Pallbearer and Skeletonwitch)
10/14 Sacramento, CA – Aftershock Festival

With At The Drive In & Skeletonwitch:

10/16 Phoenix, AZ – Talking Stick Resort Arena
10/17 San Diego, CA – Valley View Casino Center
10/19 Las Vegas, NV – T-Mobile Arena

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