System of a Down’s Serj Tankian Has Something to Say

Serj Tankian is the most powerful force for activism in the history of metal. Having used his voice for over two decades to spread awareness of environmental injustice, the Armenian Genocide and other human rights issues, the enigmatic System of a Down and solo vocalist is now the subject of a new documentary, Truth to Power.

Despite System of a Down’s monumental success, Serj Tankian’s activist mission as an artist — worldwide recognition of the Armenian Genocide —  remains unfinished. Almost no countries in the region of Asia have acknowledged the Genocide, and the United States only officially recognized its 1.5 million victims in 2019.

“An activist rarely sees the fruit of their labor,” Tankian explains. “Eventually, results, if enough people congregate around a particular cause of justice, there will be change. Sometimes it takes a year, sometimes it takes decades, sometimes it’ll take many lifetimes. It doesn’t matter. If you’re on the right path, keep on the right path, irrespective.”

In Armenia, however, System of a Down’s music helped fuel a peaceful ‘Velvet Revolution’ in 2018, which successfully forced then-Prime Minister Serzh Sargsyan to resign. Tankian was beckoned home by Armenian protestors, and the System frontman made the trip across the globe to experience the fruits of his activism.

“Going to Armenia at the tail end of the revolution and seeing the elation in people’s eyes on the street was something I’ve never experienced in my whole lifetime. I’ve seen happy people, I’ve seen partying people, I’ve seen excited people, Rock in Rio and people going crazy, but I had never seen elation. Elation is a different level of happiness. I relate it to emancipation. The 2018 Velvet Revolution in Armenia created that.”

Truth to Power Official Trailer – Oscilloscope Laboratories HD

Along with his new EP, Elasticity, which marks Serj Tankian’s solo return to music rooted in rock ’n’ roll, the vocalist also spoke about System of a Down’s first new music in 15 years and how the two songs — “Protect the Land” and “Genocidal Humanoidz” — took a far more direct approach compared to past System releases.

“In most cases, I do believe that art should be interpreted by the listener, the viewer,” Serj begins. “[System] generally don’t share what everything means, especially lyrically, but in terms of the two songs we released with System, it was for a very specific cause. Our people were being attacked in Artsakh by the combined forces of Azerbaijan, Turkey and Syrian mercenaries, and the press was being manipulated by social media bots paid by Azerbaijan, as well as the caviar diplomacy that they’ve been conducting for years — bribing politicians of different countries and media outlets, even non-profit organizations, even humanitarian non-profit organizations, even UNESCO … For us, it was a way of breaking through that in the media and letting people know what’s really going on and what, really, this means to us.”

Serj continues, “Daron [Malakian] wrote both songs. ‘Protect the Land,’ he already had it in the can and he was going to release it on his Scars on Broadway record, his next record. He said, ‘Hey, this would actually really work if you guys wanna use this.’ We jumped on it because it worked perfectly … We had to be specific because the cause was greater than the band.”

System of a Down’s Serj Tankian Has Something to Say

Watch our full chat what Serj Tankian above. Truth to Power will be released worldwide on Feb. 19, while Tankian’s Elasticity EP will drop March 19. Listen to the title track below and click here to pre-order the EP. (As Amazon affiliates, we earn on qualifying purchases)

Serj Tankian, “Elasticity” (Official Video)

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Watch a Young Serj Tankian Perform Live With His First Band

In anticipation of the Serj Tankian documentary Truth to Power, a teaser for the film has been released featuring footage from the singer’s band before System of a Down. Almost in the vein of Rush, Forever Young boasted a young Serj Tankian on keyboards.

“The first band that I ever played in was called Forever Young, I started playing keyboards with them,” Serj recalls. “The one and only show that we ever played was at the Armenian Cultural Center in Hollywood. It was an interesting start ‘cause, first of all, we were doing songs in English and Armenian, ‘cause that really was our lives as young Armenian-Americans growing up in Los Angeles. We were part of both cultures simultaneously.”

A very fresh-faced Tankian can be seen performing with the band in the video below.

“Throughout his life, the musician has pursued social justice, harnessing the power of his songs and celebrity for real political change,” an official description of Truth to Power reads. “Serj’s voice is equally likely to take on American corporate greed as lambast the corrupt regime of his homeland. His decades-long campaign for formal U.S. recognition of the Armenian Genocide was finally approved by Congress in 2019. Governments hate him. People love him.”

Truth to Power will be released in virtual cinemas and in select theaters on Feb. 19. As for Tankian’s solo career, his highly anticipated new album, Elasticity, will arrive March 19. Check out the video for the album’s title track here.

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The 25 Best Metal Albums of 2001

Looking back to the 25 Best Metal Albums of 2001, it has the making of one of the most unique years in the genre’s history, defined by comebacks, evolution and reinvention.

The rumblings of metalcore’s eventual breakout were felt through both landmark releases in the genre in addition to early, raw records by bands who would later help define what was branded as the New Wave of American Heavy Metal (caveat: Avenged Sevenfold and As I Lay Dying‘s debuts did not make this list).

Elsewhere, two German thrash juggernauts and an American staple (SLAAAAAYEERRRRR!!!) roared back with new millennium classics, black metal’s ambitions grew increasingly progressive and experimental and artsy prog was ballooning.

Oh, and then there’s Slipknot and System of a Down who each put out career bests and established themselves as the next gigantic forces in heavy metal.

But enough teasing, let’s get right to it!

The 25 Best Metal Albums of 2001

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Serj Tankian’s New Song ‘Elasticity’ Is So Delightfully Weird

System of a Down‘s Serj Tankian has just unveiled the details behind his new solo EP, Elasticity, that comes out on March 19. The title track, which the singer had originally intended to be a new SOAD track, has just been released and it is so delightfully weird.

The four-minute song is an exercise in eccentricity, shifting from a pulsing electronic opening to something more reminiscent of the noisy surf rock of The Trashmen and their immortal hit, “Surfin’ Bird” and the animal sounds in “Rock Lobster” by the B-52s.

As is typical, Tankian’s more nonsensical lyrics — Papapapapapapa where are you going bebebe / What are you saying Dadadadadadada / Naaaa.nana…nothing — are intertwined with something much more significant and poetic — Far and away, where the sorcerers have seen the lore / Turning night into day / With a fresh ratatouille of blood and gore.

“When I conceived possibly doing another record with the guys from System of a Down a few years back, I started working on a set of songs that I arranged in rock format for that purpose,” explained Tankian. “As we weren’t able to see eye to eye on the vision going forward with an SOAD album, I decided to release these songs under my moniker.”

The band did, however, come together late last year two release two new songs, “Genocidal Humanoidz” and “Protect the Land,” as a direct response to the war on Artsakh, which had impacted the Armenian community. Proceeds from the songs then went to direct aid for those affected by the war.

View the lyrics to “Elasticity” directly below and watch the music video for the EP’s title track, directed by Vlad Kaptur, toward the bottom of the page, where you’ll also see the Elasticity artwork and track listing.

Pre-order the Elasticity EP, out on Alchemy Recordings/BMG, here.

On Feb. 16, the System of a Down singer will also release his Truth to Power documentary, which places a focus on his activism through music as he sheds light on corrupt structures of power around the world. Head here to watch the trailer.

Serj Tankian, “Elasticity” Lyrics

Burp
Papapapapapapa where are you going bebebe, what are you saying Dadadadadadada
Naaaa.nana…nothing,

You blew you blew me baby out of the water bebe out of the water Bebe Dadadadadada
Naaa..nana..nothing,

I won’t be betrayed by you,
I won’t lie awake for today,
Right away,
I don’t need to pray to you
I don’t want to sacrifice my day, not this way.

Muppetmamuppetmuppet where are you going bebe , what are you saying Dadadadadadada
Naaaa.nana…nothing

You blew you blew me baby out of the water bebe out of the water Bebe Dadadadadada
Naaa..nana..nothing,

I won’t be afraid of you,
I won’t lie and beg for today,
Right away,
No more fun and games for you,
I don’t need to sacrifice my day, not this way.

Far and away, where the sorcerers have seen the lore,
Turning night into day,
With a fresh ratatouille of blood and gore,
Never will we tread on the weak and the frail,
Never will we switch the head for the tail,
Never will we drink the milk from her pail,
Never will we utter the word, Before.

Don’t you know revenge is upon the day,
Lovers have no remorse dancing right through the rains,

We must all kiss goodnight before they return again,
Bright esoteric lights for all of us but the vain,
No more searching for God when we are looking for the grains,
Rectifying the cross for the loss of the slain,
Now wipe the cane,

Far and away, where the sorcerers have seen the lore,
Turning night into day,
With a fresh ratatouille of blood and gore,
Never will we tread on the weak and the frail,
Never will we switch the head for the tail,
Never will we drink the milk from her pail,
Never will we utter the word, Before.

Don’t you know revenge is upon the day,
Lovers have no remorse dancing right through the rains,
We must all kiss goodnight before they return again,
Rectifying the cross for the loss of the slain,
Now wipe the cane.

Serj Tankian, “Elasticity”

Serj Tankian, Elasticity EP Artwork + Track Listing

Alchemy Recordings / BMG

01. “Elasticity”
02. “Your Mom”
03. “Rumi”
04. “How Many Times?”
05. “Electric Yerevan”

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10 Times System of a Down Outclassed Interviewers

With System of a Down’s recent release of new music for the first time in 15 years, we decided to look back at the band’s most entertaining interviews. Watch as the band either takes the high road or verbally bests their inquisitors.

System of a Down never seemed to get along with Fuse host Mistress Juliya, sparring with her on at least two occasions. The Uranium host often attempted to probe too far into the meanings of SOAD’s songs (a mistake we’ve certainly made in the past) leading to both hilarious and uncomfortable verbal jousting between herself and the band.

“If anyone’s looking for us, or at us, for answers, then they’re in more trouble than when they started,” guitarist / vocalist Daron Malakian said. “Most of the songs are, personally, about how screwed up I am, lyrically, in some ways. Has nothing to do with answers.” That’s one of Malakian’s more direct answers from the interview, where he often responded to questions with a thousand-yard stare and the word “fellatio.”

In another interview, bassist Shavo Odadjian was asked if the members of System would ever self-censor their criticism of various governments, including the Bush administration. “Self censorship? Never self censorship,” he said. “I’m telling you everything I feel right now. I could be political and say the nice things and make you think that I’m different, but I’m telling you the truth. I would never self-censor and I hope no one else in my band would either.”

Watch these 10 Times System of a Down Outclassed Interviewers in the Loud List below.

10 Times System of a Down Outclassed Interviewers

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Dolmayan: Political Beliefs Preventing Comic From Becoming Movie

System of a Down‘s John Dolmayan was quite vocal over the past year in his support for former President Donald Trump and the drummer stated during an appearance on the “Cancelled With Bob Rosen and Desma Simon” podcast that by expressing his beliefs, he’s seeing a backlash concerning his business interests in Hollywood.

In addition to playing with System of a Down, the musician has maintained a presence in the comic book world over the years opening his own comics store and launching his own comics series Ascencia. During the chat Dolmayan revealed that he’s had difficulty trying to get the comic series adapted and feels that his publicly expressing his right-wing views has had a role in that.

During the discussion, Dolmayan stated, “Let’s just say that Ascencia could easily be made into TV show or a movie and I had an agency working on that with me and that agency had to take a step back … It’s no different and no better than what happened in the ’50s with McCarthyism.”

He went on to add, “The agency I’m working with, they’re really good people, and they have a big company to think about. I probably shouldn’t be talking about this, but I always do this to myself. At the end of the day, we may end up working together, and if we don’t we don’t, but I understand where they’re coming from. They have to protect their interests, right?”

The drummer also spoke about the heightened sensitivity concerning political views in today’s culture. “People are so easily offended today and have such thin skin that anything you say can be looked at in any way you want. The benefit of the doubt is gone. People are hypersensitive and it’s to the detriment of all of us really,” says Dolmayan.

He later added, “I will fight to the death for a communist’s right to say what they want to say here in the United States. And I couldn’t be more opposed to the ideology. But I would say this, anybody that is thinking about being vocal, be weary. We are in a society that is hypersensitive right now. And cancel culture is a real thing. And it can really hurt you.”

You can hear more of the chat at this location.

Dolmayan has been instrumental over the past year in System of a Down’s musical return, starting the conversation rolling for the band to record new music as a way to raise attention to the current conflict in Artsakh. The Armenian government have controlled the region since war broke out in the ’80s, but Azerbaijan have attempted to take back the region over the past year.

On Saturday, System of a Down will play a special livestream show in order to raise funds for Armenian soldiers wounded in the conflict. The show will take place at 12N ET / 9AM PT via System of a Down’s YouTube channel. The group will also premiere the video for “Genocidal Humanoidz” as well.

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