Music Interviews

System Of A Down’s Serj Tankian: “A democracy without its citizens knowing the truth is not a true democracy” – Q&A



System Of A Down

System Of A Down

It’s been quite a year for System Of A Down. With the release of Mezmerize, (the first of a two disc release), in May, they have managed to stay on the top of the Billboard charts in the United States. With this follow up release to Toxicity, and Steal This Album, multitasking front man Serj Tankian’s operation have proven to be amongst the most innovative and original bands to emerge in decades.

Serj Tankian, System’s charismatic frontman, though frantically busy with SOAD, still manages to play an active role with Axis of Justice, the organisation he started with Audioslave‘s Tom Morello. AXIS has been a huge political force in the Los Angeles community, and has been instrumental in raising social/political awareness of many different causes around the world.

In addition, of late, Tankian, narrated a powerful documentary, called Armenia, A Country Under Blockade, that was recently featured at the Myrtle Beach International Film Festival. He and the rest of the band have been extremely outspoken and proactive about getting recognition of the Armenian Genocide.

Though Serj has been inundated by the press, he was still gracious enough to answer a few questions for musicOMH…

musicOMH: First and foremost, congratulations on your success with Mezmerize. I know you’re not one to pay attention to record sales. But still, the fact that it has been in the top of the Billboard charts for two months now, that has to be a good feeling?
Serj: It doesn’t suck.

musicOMH: Tell me how the experience of touring (once again) has been for you?
Serj: It’s been good. We just did five weeks of festivals and headliners in Europe, and about to embark on the US run in August. It’s been pretty fun. We keep it to a month max between breaks so as to remain fresh for our fans and keep on having fun with it.

musicOMH: I’ve really enjoyed listening to all of Mezmerize, but the track that really stood out for me, was Question, a song you wrote about death. What is your belief about the afterlife?
Serj: As you well know we don’t talk about specifics of our lyrics to the press so that people can internalise what they feel listening to a song. Death is life, and life is death, depending on how you live it. It’s good to die every moment to the past, so you can live in the present.

musicOMH: What will the video for Question entail?
Serj: Question was shot mostly in a theatre setting. The video is based on a dream Shavo, the director, had, and we collaborated on the treatment. It looks really beautiful and is one of my favourite System videos since Spiders.

musicOMH: Are you still planning to release the follow-up disc, Hypnotize, in the next couple months? Hopefully all the SOAD fans have had enough time to process Mezmerize by then, right?
Serj: Yes, sometime in November.

musicOMH: Will Daron have as much vocal contribution on Hypnotize as well?
Serj: Yes.

“Death is life, and life is death, depending on how you live it.” – Serj Tankian gets deep…

musicOMH: It’s nice to see a band that seems able to share in the vocals, music and lyrics. There doesn’t seem to be huge egos here. Correct?
Serj: We don’t have roles in our band. We do what the song requires. If it requires strings, we do that, guitars, we do that, Daron’s vocals, that, Serj’s vocals that. When I bring songs in I have the music and lyrics done. Daron now does the same, except still leaves lots of space for me and the rest of the band to do our thing as well.

musicOMH: I ran into you while we were both voting. And I couldn’t help but wonder what you were thinking and feeling when Bush won again?
Serj: A democracy without its citizens knowing the truth is not a true democracy.

musicOMH: I think many Americans feel frustrated with the way our country is being run right now. But feel helpless as to what they could possibly do? What would you say to them?
Serj: I wouldn’t say anything to them. I want to hear what they would say to me.

musicOMH: I also heard that you recently narrated a documentary called Armenia – A Country Under Blocakge. Tell me a little about that.
Serj: A good friend of mine, the director, asked me to narrate it. It deals with the specifics of the illegal economic blockade of Armenia by Turkey.

musicOMH: I commend you on your tireless efforts with regards to the Armenian Genocide. Do you feel some progress has been made? Specifically how?
Serj: Yes. Within the last year Canada, Poland, and a handful of other countries have formally recognised the Armenian Genocide and the truth is spreading and Turkey’s having a harder time lying to the world about it.


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System Of A Down’s Serj Tankian: “A democracy without its citizens knowing the truth is not a true democracy” – Q&A
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System Of A Down – Mezmerize