System Of A Down's John DolmayanGreg Watermann

John Dolmayan On System Of A Down’s Clashing Political Beliefs: “I Don’t Speak For Any Of The Individuals Except For Myself, And Neither Does Serj”


System Of A Down drummer John Dolmayan‘s choice to freely express his right-leaning political beliefs via social media have been a hot topic of discussion for fans of the band throughout the year.

Many fans were vocal about their disappointment given the band’s perception as a left-leaning outfit due to their activist work and lyrical content. The continued condemnation of the current U.S. administration voiced by the group’s frontman Serj Tankian also furthered that perception.

Speaking recently with Bad Wolves vocalist Tommy Vext and co-host Shane Vitko on the ‘Deviant Gentlemen Podcast‘, Dolmayan commented of the fluidity of his own political beliefs:

“I have a very open mind about things. I don’t think it comes off that way always on my Instagram posts, because usually when I’m posting that, it’s in the heat of the moment — something has upset me. And at the end of the day, these are my opinions.”

When asked why he would be so vocal about his beliefs, which often fly against that of the sentiments Tankian expresses, he offered:

“One of the reasons why I put up these posts is because System Of A Down has a legacy of being left-leaning, which isn’t always the case. Serj, of course, is responsible for the lyrics, but they didn’t always represent the band in the way that we maybe wanted [them] to. There’s four individuals in the band.

I don’t speak for any of the individuals except for myself, and neither does Serj. But because he had that platform of writing lyrics, the perception was out there that that’s how the band felt at all times, where I don’t even think Serj necessarily felt those ways at all times. You’re supposed to have diversity of opinion even within your own mind, and you should judge things based on information that’s presented to you.

A lot of those lyrics I did agree with at that time — for example, reforming the prison system. Some things Trump has actually done. I just don’t believe it’s quite as ‘black and white’ as we’re led to believe it is, that if you don’t have an open mind about things and if you don’t delve into the reasons things are happening and kind of discover things for yourselves, and you just say ‘Okay, I’m a Republican’ or ‘I’m a Democrat, and that’s what I’m gonna be for the rest of my life,’ you’re doing yourself a disservice.

One of the main reasons and primary reasons I get myself into a lot of trouble and do myself no favors by posting the things I post, because they’re not popular views, but one of the reasons I do it is because if you’re a System fan, and you enjoy the music, you enjoy some of the lyrics… And by the way, only about 12 percent or less of our music is political in origin anyway…

There’s a lot of lyrics that are social, they’re about love interests, they’re about your life, they’re about calamities that take place, and some of them are just fantasy. And a lot of that stuff is taken out of context as well. But if you’re a System fan and you gravitate towards the music, you enjoy the music, but you don’t necessarily agree with the perceived message, well, where do you go?

If you think that Serj is the mouthpiece of the band, which he is, as far as vocally, but not necessarily for ideology, then you have nowhere to go. So I wanted to present a different view and to give kids out there who think differently and who are critical thinkers, not necessarily following the norm, that there is a different option, you can think differently, it’s okay to have diversity of opinion, as long as it’s done peaceably.”

As for his perceived issues with the Black Lives Matter movement and Antifa, he offered:

“I have no problems with Black Lives Matter and Antifa if they did it peaceably. It’s the violent component [that I have an issue with]. And also the agenda, I believe, is Marxist.”

“As much as I don’t like the Marxist agenda and communism and socialism in general, because they don’t work, and I love America and I want America to be successful for everybody, to have the ability to succeed in it, I will never oppose their right to voice their opinion, because I believe in the Constitution.

What I have a problem with is when you have reverse McCarthyism, which is what’s taking place right now, with the cancel culture and the talking down to people who think differently or have a different mindset from this morally superior high ground that a lot of the people on the left are coming from these days, I have a problem with that. And that exists in our band to a certain degree.

Although I think Serj is a very open-minded guy, I think this derangement regarding Trump and this hate of Trump — he’s this vilified character for a lot of people — has taken away some of that common decency, has taken away the ability for people to have their listening ears on and just taking things for what they are. The guy’s done a lot of good for people. Not every policy he has is good, but he’s done a lot of good for this country, and he should be credited with that.”

When asked if Dolmayan had been asked to tone down his frequent expression of his political beliefs by anyone in the industry, he replied:

“No. My manager, he was just, like, ‘Look, maybe you guys are going a little too far’ — for both Serj and I. And we did have a private text conversation between me, [our manager] and Serj. And again, I think Serj views himself in a way where he’s really doing the right thing. And he really does care about people. And he does a lot for individuals and our nation as well.

He’s really trying to help people, Serj. I believe he’s a good person, inherently. But again, it’s that moral high ground that they think they’re on — that perceived moral high ground. It kind of blinds them to being open about ideas they might be wrong on.”

Despite their clashes on political beliefs, Tankian, who is a brother-in-law to Dolmayan, stated this past June that the pair have a mutual love and respect for each other.


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