System of a Down’s Shavo Odadjian Plays ‘Wiki: Fact or Fiction’

If COVID-19 has proven one thing, it’s that you shouldn’t trust everything you see on the Internet. In that spirit, we hopped on a Zoom call with System of a Down bassist and North Kingsley musician Shavo Odadjian to prove and disprove what’s written about him on Wikipedia.

Shavo tells some incredible stories in this Wikipedia episode, including the time he managed to get into an AC/DC music video shoot featuring Arnold Schwarzenegger. Shavo ended up directly next to Arnold in the “Big Gun” video. “The shot they used, the lights hit me more than they hit him. I was shining. It should have been a crowd and Arnold, but there’s a kid right next to Arnold — me. The next day, I was popular at school.”

The bassist also cleared up some misinformation about the infamous 2001 riot caused by a System show gone awry. Odadjian says it wasn’t police who cancelled the gig, it was the fire marshal, because between 15,000 and 20,000 people (not 7,000-10,000) showed up for a free Toxicity release show. According to Shavo, fallout from the cancelled gig resulted in System’s gear getting stolen and destroyed, with his bass cabinet ending up on the sidewalk on Hollywood and Vine.

Another famous piece of System lore — that “Chop Suey!” was originally called “Self-Righteous Suicide” — turned out to be incorrect. Shavo says the song was simply called “Suicide” and that the band’s record label pushed to change the title since a song called “Suicide” would be difficult to push as a single. Nineteen years later, the “Chop Suey!” video is about to hit one billion views on YouTube.

Watch Shavo Odadjian play ‘Wikipedia: Fact or Fiction?’ in the video below and click here to grab the new North Kingsley EP, Vol. 1.

System of a Down’s Shavo Odadjian – Wikipedia: Fact or Fiction?

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That Time Shavo Odadjian + Schwarzenegger Were in an AC/DC Video

Here’s a fun nugget of rock trivia: System of a Down‘s Shavo Odadjian was featured right next to action movie star, world class body builder and former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in AC/DC‘s “Big Gun” video.

The song itself is a bit of an obscurity within the AC/DC catalog. The band has never played the song live and it was first released as part of the rock and metal-infested soundtrack for the 1993 film Last Action Hero. “Big Gun” didn’t appear on any of AC/DC’s studio albums, but with a feature spot in a full length action flick, it required a big budget video shoot.

Schwarzenegger is in character as the Last Action Hero star Jack Slater and makes his entrance in typical Schwarzenegger fashion — destruction of property. He kicks down a door to the club where AC/DC are playing to a packed house. Infiltrating the crowd, he at one point catches a lit trio of banded dynamite sticks and uses the fuse to light his cigar, which is even cooler than when he ripped the seat out of the car in that one scene in Predator (sorry, that scene is not on YouTube).

Standing at Schwarzenegger’s left shoulder in the video clip at the 1:30 mark is a teenage Shavo Odadjian, who snuck into the video shoot as an extra. “There is a part where they bring Arnold into the crowd, and they brought him right next to me,” Odadjian once told Hustler (via Contact Music), also noting, “The cinematographer or the light guy screwed up. If you look at the scene in the video, you can see there is too much light on that kid. You can see that kid more than you can see Arnold. And that kid is me.”

YouTube: AC/DC

Later on, the action star hits the stage, donning Angus Young‘s hat which transforms him into a clone of schoolboy rocker. Young then jumps on the beast of a man and goes for a ride as Schwarzenegger walks around with the guitarist bouncing off his lap.

Watch the “Big Gun” video below.

Maybe one day we’ll get some new System of a Down music and they can create a role for Arnold Schwarzenegger. For now though, Odadjian is fixed on new material and recently launched the new band North Kingsley.

AC/DC, “Big Gun” Music Video

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System of a Down Bassist Recalls Learning Band Hit No. 1 on 9/11

Your first chart-topping album should be a moment of celebration for a band, but System of a Down‘s Shavo Odadjian recalls the surreal moment in which he learned the band’s Toxicity album claimed the top spot just as the 9/11 terrorist attacks were happening.

The bassist recalled to Kerrang!, “I found out on 9/11 itself. I remember my mom phoning me and telling me to turn on the TV, and right when I switched on, one of the Twin Towers fell down live. I didn’t know what was happening, or if it was real or not, and so I’m watching in horror and the phone bleeps, and it’s my manager, and he says, ‘Congratulations, you’re No. 1 on Billboard,’ at the same time my mom is saying that the world is going to end. Crazy. I just got chills talking about it.”

It was an interesting period for the band. Odajian started to realize the band was becoming a big deal just a short period earlier. “I actually know the exact date I knew that, because it was early September 2001, Labor Day, and the album was coming out the very next day, so we decided to do a free show in Hollywood. We expected to draw maybe 4,000 or 5,000 people, so we had security to deal with those numbers, and 15,000 people showed up, and were going crazy. The fire marshal took us aside and said, ‘Look, we can’t let this show happen, there’s too many people out there.’”

The bassist says the band wanted to address the crowd, fearing that not doing so would incite a riot. But they were not allowed to speak, and the audience did turn rowdy, destroying gear and fighting with crew members.

“We got driven away to a hotel. I was sitting in my room with my friends, and within two hours, every news station in LA was talking about the System of a Down riot. We couldn’t have paid for that kind of marketing,” says Odadjian.

Then, one week later, the album skyrocketed to the top of the charts, but 9/11 caused the band’s music to be pulled from some airwaves amidst heightened sensitivities following the terror attack. “It was 9/11, and our record was banned because we had songs like ‘Chop Suey!,’ singing about ‘self-righteous suicide’ and Toxicity was the country’s No. 1 record.”

Toxicity went on to become a huge album for the band and has been certified three times platinum by the RIAA.

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