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System Of A Down's John DolmayanGreg Watermann

John Dolmayan Says He Tried To Get Incubus & Tool Frontmen On His Covers Album, Feels System Of A Down Began To ‘Believe Their Own Hype’


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While System Of A Down drummer managed to land cameos from Avenged Sevenfold‘s M. Shadows, Rage Against The Machine‘s Tom Morello and his own System Of A Down bandmate Serj Tankian on his forthcoming These Grey Men covers album, there’s a few musicians he couldn’t manage to lock-in.

Speaking with Kerrang!, he revealed that he had tried to get Tool frontman Maynard James Keenan and Incubus vocalist Brandon Boyd involved with the project. When asked by the aforementioned publication if there were any covers or collaborators he couldn’t make happen, he replied:

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“There were many more that I didn’t do because I couldn’t get the right singer for it for. For example, there was a song that I thought would be perfect for Brandon Boyd from Incubus, and I only wanted to do it with him.

Unfortunately, Brandon and I couldn’t connect, even though we’ve been friends for a long time, so I didn’t do it at all. And there was a song I wanted Maynard from Tool to sing on, but he wasn’t available. Maybe one day they could happen.”

When asked what covers he had in mind for them, he replied “If I could remember the song titles I’d probably tell you, but I don’t!” Later in the interview, he was asked about whether or not he is ‘fed up’ with answering questions about the status of System Of A Down. Various disagreements have kept the band out of the studio, among them creative differences, disputes on songwriting credits and more. Speaking of that, he stated:

“First of all, thank you to everyone for actually giving a shit still – to our fans who have been waiting patiently [for a new album]. I appreciate it personally, and I’m sure the rest of the guys do, too. Unfortunately it’s not something that’s in my control. I wanted to make an album in 2007…and 2009…and 2012…and 2015…and 2018, and we’d have been making an album now if it was up to me.

As long as we were making music that we felt was of the same quality, there was no reason to stop making records, but not everybody in the band shares my mindset for whatever reason.

I’ve said in the past that we’ve got to put our egos aside when it comes to this type of stuff. We started as a band that struggled; none of us had money, and tried to make it, not because we wanted money but because we had a passion for what we were doing.

We wanted to make that into our careers, whether that made us enough money to survive or into multimillionaires, whatever got us to the point of making a living as an artist, that’s what we were pursuing.

The mistake that many of us make is that you start to believe the hype about yourselves, you start to believe how wonderful you are and anything you do is gold. If you listen to your fans on Instagram, you can drive yourself nuts, as the vast majority on there are telling you how great you are, but then there are others telling you you’re shit. Once you start believing anyone but yourself, you’ve already lost and you can’t recover from that.

For whatever reason, System Of A Down has done a really good job of getting into that in our own way. But we’re not alone; Tool did a very good job of that for a long time and Rage Against The Machine has done a fantastic job of that for as long as we’ve been a band.”

When asked if he felt that the bands he mentioned, as well as his own, had made mistakes, he replied:

“In the sixties, you had The Beatles, the Rolling Stones, The Who, Zeppelin…on the highest level. They pushed each other and learned from each other. I feel like in the ’90s there was a newer version of that with Tool, Rage Against The Machine and System Of A Down, bands that sounded different and made a difference. They were all distinct, but equally they were all stupid. Instead of sticking with it and using one another as motivation to be better, we just fizzled out and stopped creating together.

We made side projects that compared to the mothership were mediocre, and that includes mine. My stuff doesn’t compare or compete with System. It’s just something I’ve done for enjoyment, and I hope people enjoy it, but System isn’t comparable to anything any individual member of System can accomplish, musically—I don’t care how many things you put out there!

I know Daron is probably making another Scars On Broadway album, Serj is doing his orchestral and solo work, and I’m doing my stuff, but let me tell you: none of it will mean shit compared to System because it was the four of us together, with our talents unified to one purpose. That’s what makes System great. The lack of that is just that—a lack. If we lost any member we’d be poorer for it.”

When asked if he felt that System Of A Down would ever get on the same page, he offered:

“This is just the reality of life. People can’t get it together and can’t get out of their own ways. Maybe they’re upset about something that happened 20 years ago, or maybe they want to create a new reason to be upset.

Either way, it is what it is. At a certain point you move on to other things. If you’re dating a girl, you’re in love with her and you want to marry her but she doesn’t love you, you’ve got to move on.”

It’s been a long road to the release of These Grey Men‘s self-titled debut, with Dolmayan having crowdfunded $55,215 for the project back in 2014. Formed around the core of Dolmayan and James Hazley, bassist Tom Copossela and keyboardist Danny Shamoun were also brought in to flesh out the material.

That record will be released on February 28th and a cover of Radiohead‘s “Street Spirit (Fade Out)” was recently debuted with M. Shadows and Morello guesting, you can find it here.

System Of A Down themselves will be out on the European/UK festival circuit this summer with the below dates booked:

06/03 Amsterdam, NET – Ziggo Dome (tickets)
06/05 Nurburg, GER – Rock am Ring
06/07 Nuremberg, GER – Rock im Park
06/08 Berlin, GER – Waldbuhne (tickets)
06/10 Nickelsdorf, AUT – Nova Rock Festival
06/12 Milan, ITA – I-Days Festival (tickets)
06/14 Donington, UK – Download Festival (tickets)
06/16 Prague, CZE – O2 Arena (tickets)
06/17 Budapest, HUN – Laszlo Papp Sports Arena (tickets)
06/19 Zurich, SWI – Hallenstadion (tickets)
06/21 Clisson, FRA – Hellfest (tickets)
06/23 Stockholm, SWE – Ericsson Globe (tickets)
06/25-27 Seinäjoki, FIN – Provinssirock Festival
06/30 Krakow, POL – Tauron Arena (tickets)
07/01-04 Viveiro, SPA – Resurrection Fest (tickets)
07/02-03 Lisbon, POR – VOA Heavy Rock Festival (tickets)

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