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System Of A DownClemente Ruiz

Serj Tankian Speaks On System Of A Down’s Current Creative Impasse, Reveals He’s Been Listening To Polyphia & Falling In Reverse


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Outside of the two new tracks System Of A Down released for charity in 2020, the dearth of creative output from the multi-platinum Armenian-American nü-metal band has persisted since 2005. It was that year when the group’s last full-length arrived, and ongoing internal conflicts within the outfit have prevented any concerted follow-up from materializing since.

Even the aforementioned two singles were not entirely new creations, as one had been written by the band without Tankian‘s involvement originally, while the other was repurposed from vocalist/guitarist Daron Malakian‘s Scars On Broadway.

Several years back now, the impasse between the band spilled out online, with the lines clearly being drawn between vocalist Serj Tankian and the rest of the group. Tankian himself sought to clear the air on the matter, publicly issuing this ‘manifesto’, which he felt could get the band back on the right page studio wise.

Essentially, Tankian wanted more collective creative input from the band as a whole, rather than relying on the contributions from Malakian, who had grown to be one of the primary songwriters. Tankian was also seeking an equal split in publishing and more artistic freedom for all involved. While the band have played a number of shows since he published his list, it seems neither side is willing to budge in regards to making new music.

As Tankian himself revealed earlier this year, at one point in the past, auditions were even held to replace him, and were done so with his blessing. The group however opted to remain as a unit with Tankian in place, seemingly confined to playing a string of sporadic — albeit highly lucrative — live performances.

With close to six years having passed since Tankian‘s original list, sadly it seems little has changed. In a recent interview with The Jesea Lee Show, Tankian was asked what it would currently take to get him and his bandmates back in the studio together, to which he replied (via Blabbermouth):

“[An] egalitarian approach to everything within the band. [In other words] kind of more equality in terms of sourcing of the music, in terms of splitting everything, including publishing, in terms of ideas, in terms of sharing the vision — that kind of stuff.

It’s in the book. We call it a manifesto jokingly because I wrote points down that, years ago when I had some new songs that I thought would be amazing with System, and so I played it for the guys. And I said, ‘Guys, I’ve got an idea of a vision, a different way forward that I think would be very beneficial for the band.’ And I presented it — we call it a manifesto in the book almost half jokingly, but bringing a manifesto to rock musicians is… [Laughs] I guess it doesn’t work — it doesn’t work.

But I was trying to instill the same type of egalitarian principles as I love as an activist within whatever I do. And at that time, it didn’t work, but maybe it will one day. We’ll see.”

The book he mentions is of course his recent memoir ‘Down With The System‘, which was published last month. Elsewhere in the chat, Tankian discussed some of the newer artists he’s been listening to as of late, citing Polyphia and Falling In Reverse as getting recent spins from. He revealed that he been turned onto them by an undisclosed friend and described their music as, “really interesting.”

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