Anyone who’s a fan of System Of A Down [“SOAD’] is aware that the band hasn’t put out new music in a very long time. We all wish they would, it just hasn’t happened. The good news is they are Touring in 2020.
As a precursor to their upcoming tour, I figured it would be good for all to read, in their own words, the “why” there hasn’t been any new music. The following are quotes from the various members.
From Serj Tankian
“The status has not changed. We tour. We do shows together. We haven’t been able to see eye to eye to continue as far as creating new music together. Maybe one day that will change, maybe that won’t, but we’re all close friends and we enjoy each other’s company and we’re like family at this point, after 25 years. We’ll be announcing some new shows soon.”
Chop Suey! from the album titled, TOXICITY
We got together to rehearse, said hi and had a conversation and just carried things forward as we’ve always done. We’ve been friends and together for 25 to 30 years. That’s a long time. The difference between business and bands are people know when they’re working within a business, but when they’re in a band, it’s confusing because you’re also very close friends. There are times when you have to say, “OK, this is not working on the business end but I love you.” With bands, you rarely see that happening.
“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,” Tankian shared in 2018. “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 apologize.”
TOXICITY from the album titled, TOXICITY
System Of A Down ‘s Shavo Odadjian has said that the band have some “really great” ideas down for new material, though “creative differences” are still hindering progress on a potential full-length.
At the end of last year, the bassist revealed that the Serj Tankian-led outfit had been at work on “material that tops everything we’ve done.” The musician added that he was keen to “record that and drop” what would be the follow-up to 2005 albums ‘Hypnotize’ and ‘Mezmerize’. In April, guitarist and songwriter Daron Malakian followed up the comments by saying the project isn’t “happening anytime soon,” explaining he and his band-mates have “different ways of wanting to do things” in the studio.
In a new interview, Odadjian was asked if there are currently any ideas down for new songs. “Yeah, there are,” he told SiriusXM, before adding that there are “no recordings” of the music at this time. He later revealed that the band “would have never stopped” if it was up to him and could be on their “ninth or tenth record” by now.
“I’m gonna be honest with you. We played a couple of shows that I was not proud of recently,” Dolmayan admitted. “Because we didn’t put in the practice, and we had, like, a skeleton crew.”
SUGAR from the band’s self-titled album
He continued with an explanation highlighting the band’s piecemeal road crew: “They set up the equipment, they set up the lights, all the production,” Dolmayan said. “All this stuff has to be set up so that we can go up and do our jobs, which is to entertain you, ultimately. And these guys all have to work when we’re not working. … Avenged does it the right way — they’ll do an album cycle, they’ll do a hundred shows or whatever it is in that cycle, which means they can employ these people for a year to two years. System does it the complete opposite way and half-assed. We employ people for three to four weeks, which means we get who’s available as opposed to who we wanna work with long term.”
“We’ve been enormously successful with each other,” Dolmayan explained, “ego gets in the way a lot. It gets in the way of relationships; it gets in the way of business relationships. And sometimes you lose sight of why you started to do something together. You know, in any industry, but more so in music, people get into their heads sometimes. You’ve gotta let things go in life. You have to let things go, in that you’re gonna offend each other. You’re gonna have problems. Every relationship has them. So you’ve gotta get past it and get out of your own fucking way ultimately. And System just hasn’t been able to do that. We have some things that have gotten in the way of doing what we do best.”
Drummer Dolmayan also shared his thoughts on Instagram. “Each member of the band is equally responsible for both our incredible success on our previous recordings and our unbelievable failure to get along and make music together,” Dolmayan wrote. “Not one of us, rather ALL of us are to blame. Egomania, eccentricities, megalomania — and sometimes just stupidity all play roles.”
“To our fans, I’m truly sorry for letting you down,” the drummer continued; “To the songs that could have been — I’m sorry you haven’t.”
HYPNOTIZE from the album titled, HYPNOTIZE
All the same, the drummer still commended his band-mates; System of a Down front-man Serj Tankian, guitarist Daron Malakian and bassist Shavo Odadjian — for their contributions to the live show. “The point is, I’m the best when I’ve got Serj, Shavo and Daron with me,” Dolmayan added. “And nothing I do in music will ever compare with that, and I’m aware of it. I’m appreciate of it. I’ve got, in my opinion, one of the best live bands in the world.“
System of a Down front-man Serj Tankian and guitarist Daron Malakian are finally breaking their silence about why the rock band hasn’t released new music since 2005’s back-to-back albums, Mezmerize and Hypnotize.
From Daron Malakian
“I don’t want to throw Serj under the bus — he’s my friend and he’s someone that I care about — but I don’t know how to change his mind. We’ve all sat down, and we’ve had meetings, and he’s totally set in his way of thinking,” Malakian told Kerrang! (via Rolling Stone).
“Serj was never really a heavy metal or a rock guy,” Malakian said. “I don’t know if he has the same love for this kind of music as I do. I’m the kid that grew up with Slayer and Kiss on my walls … Serj didn’t grow up feeling that way. He didn’t grow up a diehard fan. So, I feel like the whole experience of becoming the lead singer in a hugely successful band was different for him than my experience was for me. To be honest with you, Serj didn’t even want to make Mezmerize and Hypnotize. We really begged him to make those records. At that time, he felt like he was out.”
On July 12, 2019 Tankian responded to Malakian’s comments in a Facebook post, admitting that he is responsible for SOAD’s hiatus. He defended his decision with numerous reasons, including not wanting to be repetitive with the band’s sound, an equal distribution of money among band members, and his desire to go solo.
From Serj Tankian
“By the time Mezmerize/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,” Tankian wrote. “There were songs I wanted to bring in but was hampered by unkept promises coupled by my own passivity at the time.”
Since SOAD’s hiatus, Tankian has released numerous solo albums of different musical genres, and explored a career in composing films. Tankian said he approached SOAD members about two years ago with a proposition of moving forward as a band. Among the conditions he laid out were equal creative input, equal publishing splits, and developing a “new concept or theme so that it’s not just a record but a full experience.”
Empty Walls from Tankian’s solo album titled, Elect the Dead
Tankian said he attempted to work with Malakian on songs from Scars on Broadway’s upcoming album, but things didn’t work out between the two musicians.
“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 etc, they played around with some of my songs-suffice to say I think we tried” … Tankian wrote.
As all can see, there won’t be any new music from System of the Down anytime soon. The good news is that they are touring and we all can experience the music we love so much. I have always loved the activist based musical creativity they gave to us. If there is ever a time the world needs SOAD, it is now.