System Of A Down’s Shavo Odadjian made certain the band’s first-ever show in Armenia was secured by soldiers and bomb-sniffing dogs – because he didn’t want to risk leaving his children without a father.
The band marked the 100th anniversary of the Armenian genocide by performing in the country of their parents’ birth in April – and the bassist admits he was nervous over a potential backlash to their appearance.
Odadjian tells Rolling Stone: “We played outside to 100,000 people. It was pouring rain, lightning going on.
“I cried onstage a few times – it was emotional to think that I was that age, that they were like little me, my little kids. And we’re in our country, but it’s their country because they live there, and we’re giving them what they’ve only seen on the internet.
“From grandparents to three-year-olds were there, standing in the rain watching this crazy band do some crazy shit. It was just amazing. I don’t think it can ever be duplicated unless it was a 200th anniversary. It was perfect – everything perfectly fell into place.”
The Armenian genocide remains steeped in angry contention. Up to 1.5million people are thought to have been killed by the Ottoman Empire in 1915. Authorities in modern-day Turkey, where it took place, refuse to discuss the issue. That’s one of the reasons SOAD’s Wake Up The Souls tour is taking place this year.
Odadjian says: “We have a lot of amazing Turkish fans. We would love to go play Turkey – but we can’t. We’re not guaranteed safety. Anything can happen to us, God forbid. I got kids now. Before, I lived for myself. Now I live for my babies.”
He adds of their Armenian show: “Before we got there, I made sure there were bomb-smelling dogs everywhere, all over the place. I made sure we were okay. We had the whole army there. The whole Armenian army was the security.”
The band are still considering the possibility of a sixth album, with frontman Serj Tankian recently saying it would have to be a “leap forward” or it wouldn’t happen.
The bassist reports: “We’re enjoying right now doing what we did when we started, which was playing music live. We’re a live band that started recording, so right now we’re just playing a lot of stuff live.
“It’s up in the air – but everything looks positive.”
Odadjian has just reactivated his side-project Achozen with Wu Tang Clan’s RZA. System continue their Wake Up The Souls tour next month:
Aug 28: Denver Riot Fest, CO
Sep 11: Chicago Riot Fest, IL
Sep 24: Rio De Janeiro Rock In Rio, Brazil
Sep 25: Sao Paulo Anhembi Arena, Brazil
Sep 27: Santiago Gets Louder, Chile
Sep 30: Buenos Aires Estadio GEBA, Argentina
Oct 03: Bogota Parque Deportivo, Colombia
Oct 06: Mexico City Sports Palace, Mexico