I’ll cut right to the chase: we have not one, not two, not three, but four substantial System of a Down-related pieces of news this morning. Let’s examine them one by one, shall we?
First: in a new interview with Kerrang!, guitarist Daron Malakian places the blame for no new SOAD album squarely on the shoulders of frontman Serj Tankian. Says Malakian:
“I have material for a new System album. Right now, if everyone got together and was ready to play ball, I have an album ready. If it was up to me, System would have never gone on hiatus.”
The guitarist then continued:
“I realize that it’s not me. We’ve had so many meetings about it. 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. Serj was never really a heavy metal or a rock guy. I don’t know if he has the same love for this kind of music as I do.”
Tankian’s response to his bandmate saying he didn’t want to throw him under the bus just before throwing him under the bus was to release a lengthy and candid statement of his own. In that statement, the singer i) admits that he is responsible for the band’s long hiatus after the Mezmerize/Hypnotize cycle, ii) confirms recent stories that he didn’t even wanna make those records in the first place, iii) alleges that by the time those albums were produced, Malakian “controll[ed] both the creative process and [made] the lion’s share of publishing, not to mention wanting to be the only one to do press,” and that he wants equal creative input and financial reward for all four members of the band if SOAD are going to move forward, and iv) that Malakian’s new Scars on Broadway album largely consists of material that Tankian “didn’t consider applicable to SOAD.”
Here’s Tankian’s entire statement:
“Confessions about Soad by Serj Tankian
“We are extremely lucky mofos for our fans to want a record out of our ragtag misfit of a crew after all these years, at times demanding it. This of course has led to numerous rumors about the band and our inability to make a record together coupled with he said/he said excerpts from each of our interviews in the past and present at times by sensationalism seeking media who are in no way, let’s say, changing the world for the better themselves
“So I’m going to attempt to clarify things for all of our sake once and for all hopefully without vilifying anyone in the process.
“It is true that I and only I was responsible for the hiatus Soad took in 2006. Everyone else wanted to continue at the same pace to tour and make records.
I didn’t. Why? For numerous reasons:
“1. Artistic: I’ve always felt continuing to do the same thing with the same people over time is artistically redundant even for a dynamic outfit like ours. By that time I felt that I needed a little time to do my own work. I wasn’t discounting restarting the process with the band later.
“2. Egalitarianism: When we first started out our creative input and financial revenue splits were close to equal within the band. 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 lions share of publishing not to mention wanting to be the only one to do press.
“3. I wanted to leave the band before Mezmerize/Hypnotize for these developing reasons. This is why I personally don’t feel as close to the music on those records. There were songs I wanted to bring in but was hampered by unkept promises coupled by my own passivity at the time.
“Time went by, we all did our own thing. My solo career gave me the confidence as a songwriter and later composer to re-visit Soad from a position of strength at first just to tour and enjoy each others’ company, which we did and do so still.
“I knew they wanted to make a record, but given the past I was hesitant. At times there would be emotionally tinged outbursts by one band member or another mostly blaming me for the band’s inactivity.
“After a long time thinking and processing, about 2 years ago, I went to the guys with a proposition for a way forward as a band.
“I wanted to rectify the wrongs of the past and establish a way we can all be happy moving forward so I recommended the following:
“1. Equal creative input: by this time I had released 5 of my own records and was a better songwriter musically and Daron was getting better as a lyricist, so I said let’s each bring in 6 songs that all band members approve fully and work on them along with songs or riffs from Shavo.
“2. Equal publishing split: I personally feel that a band is an equal partnership and finances should reflect that.
“3. Directors cut: whomever wrote the song makes the final decision after exhausting all types of ideas from anybody within the group. I did this because in the past, I’d bring in a song that would be morphed into an undesirable version that I myself would withdraw from consideration.
“4. Develop a new concept or theme so that it’s not just a record but a full experience.
“(Obviously I’m omitting many other details here like agreeing on the “sound” of a new record which we couldn’t do either as we went back and forth with songs by Daron and myself. 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).
“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.
“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.
“Thanks for reading
Drummer John Dolmayan then jumped in to play the Kirk Hammett intermediary role with a statement of his own, in which he asserts that all four members of the band are equally to blame for being unable to reconcile all their various issues:
“Many theories and much speculation have circulated through the years with blame focused on one member of the band for the lack of new material, if that is true; then why is that? Every action has a cause , every reaction has a cause and the truth is, 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. 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 , to the songs that could have been-I’m sorry you haven’t.”
And as if all of that wasn’t enough, Malakian’s Scars on Broadway have released a new single, “Guns are Loaded,” which is now extra interesting because we know it was likely meant to be a SOAD song initially. So the question is, listening to this, do you think it’s “applicable,” as Tankian says, to SOAD? It sounds very Mezmerize/Hypnotize to me, so your feelings about it will likely depend on your feelings about those records. You can listen below. The track will appear on Scars on Broadway’s new album, Dictator (boy, that title has new meaning in light of these events, eh?), which comes out next Friday, July 20.
Many theories and much speculation have circulated through the years with blame focused on one member of the band for the lack of new material, if that is true; then why is that? Every action has a cause , every reaction has a cause and the truth is, 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. 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 , to the songs that could have been-I’m sorry you haven’t.
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