SYSTEM OF A DOWN’s SERJ TANKIAN: ‘We’ve Never Tried To Appeal To A Mainstream Audience’

In a new interview with Fresno, California’s KSEE24, SYSTEM OF A DOWN singer Serj Tankian was asked if it’s a challenge trying to appeal to a mainstream audience while also including political messages in the band’s music. He responded (see video below): “I’ll tell you this: we’ve never tried to appeal to a mainstream audience. If we were, we wouldn’t be writing the type of music we did from day one — very left of center, nutty and comical and deadly serious at the same time.

“Music has many amazing purposes — from making us feel good and entertaining us and whatnot — but part of the music that I really pay attention to are ones that move me beyond and really, really challenge my senses for finding justice and doing things with the music outside of just the entertainment aspect of it,” he explained. “And those are the artists that I really appreciated over the years. So that’s been a huge part of what SYSTEM OF A DOWN does, needless to say, and our fans, I think, appreciate that.”

Less than a month ago, SYSTEM OF A DOWN released “Protect The Land” and “Genocidal Humanoidz”, the band’s first new songs in 15 years. The tracks were motivated by the recently erupted conflict between Artsakh and Azerbaijan, the latter aided by Turkey and accountable for the greatest violence the region has endured in 26 years. Produced by guitarist/vocalist Daron Malakian, who also wrote the music and lyrics, both songs are streaming now on all DSPs and are available for purchase on Bandcamp with band royalties earmarked for the Armenia Fund.

The music video for “Protect The Land” incorporates recent footage of the protests and on-the-ground fighting in Artsakh, but in a very personal and aesthetic way. As he did for all previous SYSTEM OF A DOWN releases, bassist Shavo Odadjian executive-produced the music video and curated the cover and brand art for the project.

“Protect The Land” a was originally written by Malakian for the next album by his other group, SCARS ON BROADWAY, while “Genocidal Humanoidz” was penned three or four years ago when Odadjian, Malakian and drummer John Dolmayan convened for a jam session that produced several songs, only to abandon them when Tankian wouldn’t commit to an album.

Within a week of their release, “Protect The Land” and “Genocidal Humanoidz” landed at positions No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, on Billboard‘s Hot Hard Rock Songs chart. “Land” topped the chart with 2.7 million U.S. streams and 5,000 downloads sold in the week ending November 12, while “Humanoidz” garnered 1.8 million streams and 5,000 downloads.

As a result of renewed interest in SYSTEM OF A DOWN‘s music, the band’s 2001 album “Toxicity” re-entered the Hard Rock Albums chart at No. 10 (5,000 equivalent album units; up 32%) while 1998’s “System Of A Down” has shot back up to No. 11 (5,000 units; up 308%).

SYSTEM OF A DOWN is planning to film a music video for “Genocidal Humanoidz” in December. “I’ve written out the storyline, and I’ve got a couple of surprises that I’m gonna be putting [in there],” Odadjian told geopolitical analyst Richard Èlmoyan in a recent interview.

Photo credit: Clemente Ruiz

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