System Of A Down

System of a Down, also known by the acronym SOAD and often shortened to System , is an Armenian-American rock band from Southern California, formed in 1994. It consists of Serj Tankian (lead vocals, keyboards, rhythm guitar), Daron Malakian (vocals, guitar), Shavo Odadjian (bass, background vocals) and John Dolmayan (drums). All four members are of Armenian descent, and are widely known for their outspoken views expressed in many of their songs confronting the Armenian Genocide of 1915 as well as the ongoing War on Terror.

The band has achieved commercial success with the release of five studio albums; three of their studio albums debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200. System of a Down has been nominated for four Grammy Awards, and won the award in 2006 for Best Hard Rock Performance for the song “B.Y.O.B.”. On August 13, 2006, the group went on indefinite hiatus, but announced a reunion on November 29, 2010 with several shows planned at European music festivals for the summer of 2011.

The stylistic variety and level of experimentation in System of a Down’s music has made it difficult to describe, but System of a Down has, for the most part, maintained a single style throughout their body of work. This style has variously been termed alternative metal, alternative rock, rock, art rock, experimental rock, hard rock, heavy metal,nu metal, progressive metal[28][29] and progressive rock. Malakian has stated that “We don’t belong to any one scene’ and that “I don’t like the nu-metal drop-A 7-string guitar sound; it is not my thing, at least not yet”. According to Tankian, “As far as arrangement and everything, [our music] is pretty much pop. To me, System of a Down isn’t a progressive band. […] But it’s not a typical pop project, obviously. We definitely pay attention to the music to make sure that it’s not something someone’s heard before.”

In May 2006, the band announced they were going on hiatus. Malakian confirmed the break would probably last a few years, which Odadjian specified as a minimum of three years in an interview with Guitar magazine. He told MTV, “We’re not breaking up. If that was the case, we wouldn’t be doing this Ozzfest. We’re going to take a very long break after Ozzfest and do our own things. We’ve done System for over ten years, and I think it’s healthy to take some rest.”[8]

May 2006 also saw the UK publication of a biography of the band entitled System Of A Down: Right Here In Hollywood by writer Ben Myers. It was published in the US in 2007 through The Disinformation Company.

Malakian announced he was forming a band called Scars on Broadway, which was joined by Dolmayan. System of a Down’s final performance before their hiatus took place on August 13, 2006 in West Palm Beach, Florida. “Tonight will be the last show we play for a long time together,” Malakian told the crowd during Sunday’s last performance. “We’ll be back. We just don’t know when.”[9]

Tankian released his debut solo album Elect the Dead in the autumn of 2007 to great critical and commercial acclaim. Malakian and Dolmayan released Scars On Broadway’s debut self-titled album on July 29, 2008. Dolmayan, alongside working with Scars on Broadway, formed his own band, Indicator, as well as opened Torpedo Comics, an online comic book store.[10] Odadjian pursued his project with RZA of Wu-Tang Clan, a hip-hop group named AcHoZeN, worked on his urSESSION website/record label, and performed as a member of funk legend George Clinton’s backing band.

Shavo Odadjian told Launch Radio Networks in 2007 that System of a Down was “alive and well,” but just were not working together.[11]

In an April 2008 interview with Kerrang! magazine, Malakian and Dolmayan gave their takes on the band’s future. When told that many people were wondering what the future of the band was, Malakian responded by stating that “We’ll all know when the time is right.” Dolmayan added, “It’ll just happen.”

In an interview with Tankian about Big Day Out 2009 (a show which involved playing his Elect the Dead album live with the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra, and a few songs from his then-upcoming second studio album) Tankian stated, “Every few months I am honored to hear interesting rumors about whether the band is going to tour or break up permanently. I find them all to be very entertaining.”

On October 31, 2009, Odadjian threw a Halloween party at the Roxy during which he, Malakian, and Dolmayan performed “Suite-Pee” (off System of a Down), Scars on Broadway’s “They Say,” and an unknown song. Franky Perez from Scars on Broadway joined them for these songs.[12] This performance was followed by another partial reunion of the band on November 20, 2009, at the Avalon in Hollywood during which Malakian, Dolmayan, and Odadjian played at a show benefiting bassist Chi Cheng and played hits “Aerials” and “Toxicity.” They were joined by Deftones vocalist Chino Moreno for these songs.

On January 11, 2010, Odadjian posted on his official Twitter account, “Are you guys ready for System?” This statement was picked up by the media and fans as a potential reunion announcement. However, two days after that, in an interview with Billboard, Tankian stated that System of a Down was still on an indefinite hiatus while adding “We always have offers to play, from festivals and stuff, but we have not decided to do anything as of yet”.[13]

In July 2010, Dolmayan was interviewed and said the band would most likely tour in 2011, although at the time there were no official or concrete plans. This caused further speculation and rumors of a reunion. On August 12, 2010, while in Yerevan‎, Armenia for a solo performance, Tankian said that a System of a Down concert in Yerevan may be a good idea. However, in a later interview, he said the band had no plans to reunite.

Between 2004 to 2005, the group recorded the follow up to Steal This Album!, a double album, which they released as separate installments six months apart from each other, notably including album cover artwork by Malakian’s father, Vartan Malakian, which was designed to connect the two separate album covers. The first album, Mezmerize, was released on May 17, 2005 to favorable reviews by critics. It debuted at #1 in the United States, Canada, Australia and all around the world, making it System of A Down’s second #1 album. First week sales rocketed to over 800,000 copies worldwide. The Grammy Award-winning single “B.Y.O.B.”, which questions the integrity of military recruiting in America, worked its way up the Billboard Modern Rock and Mainstream Rock charts. The next single, “Question!” was released with Shavo Odadjian co-directing the music video. Following the release of Mezmerize, the band toured extensively throughout the United States and Canada with The Mars Volta and Bad Acid Trip supporting.

The second part of the double album, Hypnotize, was released on November 22, 2005. Like Mezmerize, it debuted at #1 in the US, making System of a Down, along with The Beatles, Guns ‘N Roses, and rappers 2Pac and DMX, the only artists to ever have two studio albums debut at #1 in the same year.[7] In February 2006, System of a Down won the Grammy for Best Hard Rock Performance for “B.Y.O.B.”, beating out other established artists such as Nine Inch Nails and Robert Plant. Their second single off the Hypnotize album, “Lonely Day” was released in March in the United States. System of a Down released “Kill Rock ‘N Roll” and “Vicinity of Obscenity” as their next promo singles. The band headlined Ozzfest 2006 in cities where tour founder Ozzy Osbourne opted not to appear or wasn’t playing on the main stage.

Whereas on System of a Down’s previous albums most of the lyrics were written and sung by Tankian and the music was co-written by Tankian and Malakian (and sometimes Odadjian) much of the music and lyrics on Mezmerize/Hypnotize were written by Malakian who also took on a much more dominant role as vocalist on both albums, often leaving Tankian providing keyboards and backing vocals.

Concert footage and interviews with the band concerning the importance of helping create awareness and recognition of the Armenian Genocide were featured in the 2006 film Screamers, directed by Carla Garapedian. An interview with Tankian’s grandfather, a survivor of the Genocide, was also included in the film as well as Tankian’s and Dolmayan’s meeting with (then) Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert during which the two musicians campaigned for the United States government’s official recognition of the Genocide. Footage of Tankian and Dolmayan marching with protesters outside of the Turkish embassy in Washington D.C. was also used in Screamers.

System of a Down was honored at a University of Southern California game at the Los Angeles Coliseum in Los Angeles, California in 2006. The Trojan Marching Band, along with Dolmayan and Odadjian, performed three System of a Down songs: “Toxicity,” “Sugar,” and “Hypnotize.” System of a Down’s song “Lonely Day” was nominated for Best Hard Rock Performance in the 49th Grammy Awards in 2007, but lost to “Woman” by Wolfmother.

On August 31, 2010, in an interview with Tankian by Gibson, Tankian said that “If we decide to [reunite], the first people to find out will be our fans, on the website. We’ve all agreed that as a band.” [15] but later Tankian said they had not talked about reuniting.

The band has used a wide range of instruments, including electric mandolins, baritone electric guitars, acoustic guitars, ouds, sitars and twelve string guitars. According to Malakian, he would often write songs in E♭ tuning, which would later be changed to drop C tuning in order to be performed by the band. Malakian states that “For me, the drop-C tuning is right down the center. It has enough of the clarity and the crisp sound—most of our riffy stuff is done on the top two strings, anyway—but it’s also thicker and ballsier.”

The band’s influences include Middle Eastern music, Ozzy Osbourne, Dead Kennedys, Frank Zappa, Slayer, The Beatles, and Van Halen. The band’s musical style has often been compared to that of Zappa. Malakian has stated that “I’m a fan of music. I’m not necessarily a fan of any one band.” Dolmayan stated “I don’t think we sound like anybody else. I consider us System of a Down.” Odadjian stated “You can compare us to whoever you want. I don’t care. Comparisons and labels have no effect on this band. Fact is fact: We are who we are and they are who they are.

Background information
Also known as Soil (1992–1994)
Origin Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Genres Alternative metal, progressive rock, hard rock, experimental
Years active 1994–2006, 2011
Labels Sony Music, American, Columbia
Associated acts Achozen, Axis of Justice, George Clinton and His Gangsters of Love, Scars on Broadway, Serj Tankian and The F.C.C., The Apex Theory
Website systemofadown.com
Members
Daron Malakian
Serj Tankian
Shavo Odadjian
John Dolmayan
Past members
Ontronik “Andy” Khachaturian
Lyrics
Comments
  1. Most highly preservative band !

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