Serj Tankian weighs in on reasons behind lack of new System Of A Down material

(Image credit: Lester Cohen - Getty)

Serj Tankian has written a lengthy response to recent comments made by Daron Malakian, who suggested the vocalist is the reason for the lack of new material from System Of A Down.

The band’s last record was 2005’s Hypnotize – and in a recent interview with Kerrang, guitarist Malakian addressed the issue of why there’s been nothing new since, even though SOAD continue to play live shows.

He said: “When it comes to making another album, there’s just a certain way that System make albums, and there’s a bunch of us that want to make an album that way and there is, I guess, one of us that doesn’t want to make an album his way. 

“And not everyone is on board with that. That’s been the issue.

“I have material for a new System album. Right now, if everyone got together and was ready to play ball, I have an album ready. If it was up to me, System would have never gone on hiatus.”

Now, Tankian has written a post on Facebook titled Confessions About SOAD which serves as a response to Malakian’s comments. 

In the piece he admits he was the reason for the band’s hiatus, that he wanted to leave before the Mezmerize and Hypnotize albums, and reveals the recommendations that he suggested for the band to move forward.

The vocalist says: “It is true that I and only I was responsible for the hiatus System Of A Down took in 2006. Everyone else wanted to continue at the same pace to tour and make records. I didn’t. Why? For numerous reasons:

“1. Artistic: I’ve always felt continuing to do the same thing with the same people over time is artistically redundant even for a dynamic outfit like ours. By that time I felt that I needed a little time to do my own work. I wasn’t discounting restarting the process with the band later.

“2. Egalitarianism: When we first started out, our creative input and financial revenue splits were close to equal within the band. By the time Mezmerize and Hypnotize came around, we were at the diametrically opposite end on both, with Daron controlling both the creative process and making the lion’s share of publishing – not to mention wanting to be the only one to do press.

I had to draw a line in the sand because I knew I could never be happy going back to how things used to be within the band

Serj Tankian

“3. I wanted to leave the band before Mezmerize and Hypnotize for these developing reasons. This is why I personally don’t feel as close to the music on those records. There were songs I wanted to bring in but was hampered by unkept promises coupled by my own passivity at the time.”

Tankian says the subsequent downtime for the band allowed him to concentrate on his solo career, which gave him the “confidence as a songwriter and later composer to revisit System Of A Down from a position of strength – at first just to tour and enjoy each others’ company, which we did and do so still.”

He adds: “I knew they wanted to make a record, but given the past I was hesitant. At times there would be emotionally tinged outbursts by one band member or another mostly blaming me for the band’s inactivity. After a long time thinking and processing, about two years ago, I went to the guys with a proposition for a way forward as a band.

“I wanted to rectify the wrongs of the past and establish a way we can all be happy moving forward.”

Tankian says his suggestions were for every member to have an equal creative output in light of them growing as songwriters and lyricists; to receive an equal publishing split; that whoever wrote a particular song would have the final decision on its direction; and to develop a new concept or theme “so that it’s not just a record but a full experience.”

The vocalist continues: “Obviously I’m omitting many other details like agreeing on the ‘sound’ of a new record which we couldn’t do either as we went back and forth with songs by Daron and myself.

“I remember sending lots of notes on songs by Daron, mostly from his current Scars On Broadway record – most of which I didn’t consider applicable to SOAD. They played around with some of my songs. Suffice to say I think we tried.

Tankian concludes: “Ultimately I had to draw a line in the sand because I knew I could never be happy going back to how things used to be within the band. And as we couldn’t see eye to eye on all these points, we decided to put aside the idea of a record altogether for the time being.

“My only regret is that we have been collectively unable to give you another SOAD record. For that I apologise.”

Last week, System Of A Down's John Dolmayan and Shavo Odadjian reported that they were in the studio together, although it was unclear if it was SOAD related.

Speaking last month, Dolmayan quashed hopes of a new System Of A Down album, saying "I don’t know if it’s ever gonna happen at this point.”

Scott Munro
Louder e-commerce editor

Scott has spent 35 years in newspapers, magazines and online as an editor, production editor, sub-editor, designer, writer and reviewer. Scott joined our news desk in the summer of 2014 before moving to the e-commerce team in 2020. Scott keeps Louder’s buyer’s guides up to date, writes about the best deals for music fans, keeps on top of the latest tech releases and reviews headphones, speakers, earplugs and more. Over the last 10 years, Scott has written more than 11,000 articles across Louder, Classic Rock, Metal Hammer and Prog. He's previously written for publications including IGN, the Sunday Mirror, Daily Record and The Herald newspapers, covering everything from daily news and weekly features, to tech reviews, video games, travel and whisky. Scott's favourite bands are Fields Of The Nephilim, The Cure, New Model Army, All About Eve, The Mission, Cocteau Twins, Drab Majesty, Marillion and Rush.