System Of A Down’s Shavo: Nothing beats playing live

Shavo Odadjian
Shavo Odadjian

System Of A Down bassist Shavo Odadjian has spoken about his formative years and why he switched from playing guitar to the bass.

And he also believes that simply performing their music live isn’t enough as he wants to put on an extra special performance every night so fans will never forget seeing the band.

He tells Ernie Ball: String Theory: “Anybody can go put on the album and listen to it. I think when you’re playing live, it should be a show.

“Being onstage with the crowd, that’s the best moment ever. On tour it’s the best thing, you wait all day for that one or two hours at night. You’re waiting for that moment to get out there, that’s the rush. The first time I got onstage, I knew this was it. Best feeling ever.”

Odadjian grew up learning guitar, but says he made the switch to bass out of necessity when he couldn’t find a bassist to join him before the formation of System Of A Down in 1994.

He says: “Music to me is kind of like life – and bass playing is in that same category

“I was a guitar player throughout my teenage years. When I was 18 or 19 years old, I was playing in a band and they broke up, so I was looking for a bass player – and bass players were hard to find.

“Either someone didn’t know how to play and was trying to be a bass player, or someone was a virtuoso and was trying to be like a lead guitar player on bass. So I said, ‘I’ll pick up the bass.’ I did that for a little bit and then I linked up with Daron Malakian and we started System.

“I was playing bass for six months before I started playing with System Of A Down.”

He adds: “I’m not a technical bass player, I’m not a solo player – I hear the drums and hear the kick and I’m with it.”

System Of A Down have been working on the follow-up to 2005’s Hypnotize and will headline this year’s Download Festival in the UK.

The Ernie Ball String Theory series has featured artists including Kirk Hammett, Jesse Hughes and Paul Gilbert in previous episodes.

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Scott Munro
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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.