John Dolmayan says System Of A Down should have replaced Serj Tankian years ago: “He hasn’t wanted to be in the band for a long time”

System Of A Down standing against a white wall
(Image credit: Press)

System Of A Down drummer John Dolmayan has said that the band should have “parted ways” with singer Serj Tankian in the mid-2000s, and claimed that some of his bandmates’ subsequent side projects “aren’t very good at all”.

Speaking on the Battleline Podcast (opens in new tab), Dolmayan said that Tankian was ultimately responsible for the fact that SOAD haven’t made a new album since 2005’s  Mezmerize and Hypnotize, claiming that the singer “hasn’t really wanted to be in the band for a long time.”

“Quite frankly, we probably should have parted ways around 2006,” said Dolmayan. “We tried to get together multiple times to make an album, but there were certain rules set in place that made it difficult to do so and maintain the integrity of what System of a Down stood for. So we couldn’t really come together and agree.”

Dolmayan added that while he and guitarist Daron Malakian and bassist Shavo Odadjian shouldered some of the blame for the situation, “at the end of the day, if you have a majority of the band thinking one way and one person thinking the other, it’s very difficult to come together and make music thinking that person is important.”

Dolmayan went on to say that the band should have replaced Tankian when it became clear that the singer’s interest had waned: “I think we should have moved on, and if Serj didn’t wanna be in the band at that time, we should have just moved on and done it with somebody else. But that’s what happens when you’re loyal and you really wanna make it work; you’ll put up with things that may be detrimental to the health of the band or the health of the situation.

“Maybe it would have been better if we moved on and got another singer for an album or two and continued to make music and brought Serj back later if he wanted to come back. That probably would have been better. But as it is, I think we wasted 15, maybe 20 years of our lives waiting.”

Dolmayan also took aim at some of the side-projects the band members have released over the years, comparing them unfavourably to System. 

“They’re never quite that good compared to System. In fact, I think a lot of ’em aren’t very good at all. And when you compare that to what we do together as System, you understand why the team matters and having certain talents come together and merge matter and that magic thing captured doing that matters.”

System Of A Down last released new music in 2020, when they put out the songs Protect The Land and Genocidal Humanoidz to raise awareness of humanitarian issues in Armenia. 

The band are due to play the Sick New World festival in Las Vegas on May 13, 2023.

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