"I could see that schism developing." Serj Tankian says he knew System Of A Down had problems as early as 1999

System Of A Down band promo 1998
(Image credit: Bob Berg/Getty Images)

System Of A Down vocalist Serj Tankian has admitted in a new interview that there were signs of discord in the band as early as 1999. Speaking to radio host Patrick Ritter of  WSOU 89.5 FM, the singer talked at length about the history of System Of A Down and revelations that arose from the release of his autobiography Down With The System in May, including the knowledge that System weren't built to last. 

"That was very early on," he acknowledges. "It wasn't around [2005's] Mezmerize/Hypnotize, it was on our first record. So we're talking about '98/99. John [Dolmayan], my drummer who's also my brother-in-law, he's got an incredible memory. He basically said, 'Yeah, ever since '99, you were looking and going, 'This can't continue this way.'"

He goes on to explain that some of the issues arose around disagreements between what the rest of the band and guitarist Daron Malakian wanted, identifying that while the other members had other pursuits, for Daron System Of A Down was "everything".   

"I can't remember the exact circumstance, but I felt like there was something wrong with this puzzle that I don't think we could solve from a very early time," he explains. "Music had become my everything at that time. I had screamed at the Gods saying that I wanna do music and I knew that was my vision. I knew I'd be doing music for the rest of my life, no matter what, with or without System Of A Down , 'cause that was my calling. But early on, I could see that schism developing."

Elsewhere in the interview, Serj also talks about how he developed his unique vocal style, admitting that the first song he sang on - titled Waco Jesus and recorded by pre-System Of A Down band Soil - his approach was just a mix of the vocalists he admired.

"I sounded very much like Eddie Vedder, Jim Morrison, Glen Danzig - that very low 'yruw-wruw' kind of thing because that's what I was listening to at the time I guess," he admits. "It didn't sound like me. As a singer you first start with other people's voices, because those are your influences. Over time, hopefully, you develop your own voice. That's what happened to me."

System Of A Down recently headlined the second edition of Sick New World, and are set to perform a co-headline show with Deftones in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park on August 17. 

Watch the full interview below.

Rich Hobson

Staff writer for Metal Hammer, Rich has never met a feature he didn't fancy, which is just as well when it comes to covering everything rock, punk and metal for both print and online, be it legendary events like Rock In Rio or Clash Of The Titans or seeking out exciting new bands like Nine Treasures, Jinjer and Sleep Token.