Daron Malakian talks down the idea of a new System Of A Down album: ‘It’s complicated. It’s a shame’

System Of A Down
(Image credit: Armen Keleshian)

On November 6, System Of A Down surprised the rock world with the release of two new songs, Protect The Land and Genocidal Humanoidz. The first new SOAD music in 15 years, the tracks were intended to generate funds for humanitarian aid for the citizens of Artsakh, a region scarred by a violent dispute between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

The emergence of the two new songs raised hopes that the four members of the LA band might be able to set aside long-standing personal grievances and unite to make a new album. In new interviews, however, Daron Malakian has poured cold water on the idea… though the guitarist insists “I never say never”.

When the subject was raised during an interview with BBC Radio 6 Music presenter Matt Everitt on November 12, Malakian stated “It’s not that simple, I guess. I wish it was.”

“It should be…” the guitarist said, as reported by NME, “but it gets a little bit more complicated than that. I don’t wanna get into, like, ‘Well, it’s this person and that person.’  We did [the new songs] for a noble reason, and we did this for the right reasons. We didn’t make any money off this. It was totally for the noble reason of, our country needs us.”

“Everyone got along. It was cool. I personally do walk away and say, It’s a shame that certain things can’t come together to make [a new record] happen.”

“Look, I never say never,” the guitarist expanded in a new interview with Guitar World. “We didn’t even know this was going to happen. I was on my way to releasing these songs with my other band Scars On Broadway. Then the situation in Armenia happened and put our differences aside. And our differences are only within the band. 

“Personally and outside of the band, everybody gets along reasonably well. There is no hate for each other in SOAD. We’re like a family. A lot of people think, ‘Oh, Serj [Tankian] and Daron don’t get along!’ and no, that’s not true. Serj and Daron get along just fine. 

“But Serj and Daron, or Shavo and Serj, different people in the band will have a different idea of how they want the band to move forward. That’s kinda where our disagreements are at.” 

“I’m not expecting to do any more with SOAD right away or immediately after this,” he continued. “We’ve added two new songs to the System catalog that are on the level with everything else that we’ve put out and our fans have accepted it that way, which means a lot to me. That’s kinda where we’re gonna leave it for now. If more happens later on, then we’ll talk about that, but for now I will continue doing what I’m doing and everyone else will just continue what they’re doing.”

Earlier this year, System Of A Down bassist Shavo Odadjian and drummer John Dolmayan also expressed some regrets that the band weren’t more committed to making new music together. 

“I love my guys in System, we’re brothers, forever,” Odadjian told Kerrang! “But actually System isn’t a democracy, it’s a band in which every decision we make has to be unanimous, all four of us buying in: that’s how we set it up at the beginning and that’s why we’re in this mess (laughs). That’s a joke!”

“I love System, I love it to death, and I’ve said it before, if it was up to me, we’d have 10 records out by now, and be touring every year. But that’s not the reality right now for our band.”

“There’s egos involved,” John Dolmayan told Download TV this summer, “and, quite frankly, wisdom isn’t always something you achieve in older age – sometimes you achieve stubbornness, and we just can’t get out of our own way on that one,. But I would like to say that it is a band issue. I know that certain members of my band have been blamed in the past, but at the end of the day it takes four people to make the music we make and it takes four people not to make it.”

“Unless the four of us get on the same page at the exact same time and the stars align, I think it’s very unlikely that we’ll make new music, which is a sadness, because I think we have a lot to offer still.”

Paul Brannigan
Contributing Editor, Louder

A music writer since 1993, formerly Editor of Kerrang! and Planet Rock magazine (RIP), Paul Brannigan is a Contributing Editor to Louder. Having previously written books on Lemmy, Dave Grohl (the Sunday Times best-seller This Is A Call) and Metallica (Birth School Metallica Death, co-authored with Ian Winwood), his Eddie Van Halen biography (Eruption in the UK, Unchained in the US) emerged in 2021. He has written for Rolling Stone, Mojo and Q, hung out with Fugazi at Dischord House, flown on Ozzy Osbourne's private jet, played Angus Young's Gibson SG, and interviewed everyone from Aerosmith and Beastie Boys to Young Gods and ZZ Top. Born in the North of Ireland, Brannigan lives in North London and supports The Arsenal.