SYSTEM OF A DOWN’s John Dolmayan has discussed the band’s failed attempts to record a collection of new music
The Armenian band have managed to record only two new songs in the last 18 years, “Protect The Land” and “Genocidal Humanoidz“, which arrived in November of 2020. Those tracks were released to assist in the conflict between Artsakh and Azerbaijan, with all proceeds supporting humanitarian efforts in Armenia.
Dolmayan spoke about SYSTEM OF A DOWN‘s lack of new music during an appearance on the “Battleline Podcast”, saying (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): “Serj [Tankian, SYSTEM OF A DOWN singer] hasn’t really wanted to be in the band for a long time. And quite frankly, we probably should have parted ways around 2006. We tried to get together multiple times to make an album, but there were certain rules set in place that made it difficult to do so and maintain the integrity of what SYSTEM OF A DOWN stood for. So we couldn’t really come together and agree. And part of that is Serj’s fault, and part of that is my fault, and Shavo’s [Odadjian, SYSTEM OF A DOWN bassist] and Daron’s [Malakian, SYSTEM OF A DOWN guitarist] as well. But at the end of the day, if you have a majority of the band thinking one way and one person thinking the other, it’s very difficult to come together and make music thinking that person is important. And every member of this band is very important to the overall sound of the band. And you’ll know this by listening to anybody’s side projects; they’re never quite that good compared to SYSTEM. In fact, I think a lot of ’em aren’t very good at all. And when you compare that to what we do together as SYSTEM, you understand why the team matters and having certain talents come together and merge matter and that magic thing captured doing that matters.”
John continued: “No matter what, Daron is one of the best songwriters I’ve ever seen in my life. What he does with [his side project] SCARS [ON BROADWAY] will never be on the same level or league as SYSTEM. That doesn’t mean SCARS is bad; it just means it’s not SYSTEM. ‘Cause at the end of the day, he doesn’t have me playing drums; he doesn’t have Shavo playing bass and bringing in certain riffs and adding to Daron’s music, and he doesn’t have Serj bringing his melody and lyrics into the play. So it’s all those things that make us SYSTEM.”
When asked to elaborate on his comment that SYSTEM OF A DOWN “should have parted ways around 2006”, John replied: “I think we should have moved on, and if Serj didn’t wanna be in the band at that time, we should have just moved on and done it with somebody else. But that’s what happens when you’re loyal and you really wanna make it work; you’ll put up with things that may be detrimental to the health of the band or the health of the situation. Maybe it would have been better if we moved on and got another singer for an album or two and continued to make music and brought Serj back later if he wanted to come back. That probably would have been better. But as it is, I think we wasted 15, maybe 20 years of our lives waiting.”
Pressed about what it is like for him and his bandmates to still perform live together, Dolmayan said: “When we’re actually on stage, it’s great. It’s just getting to that point that is disheartening. We have one show booked for next year. One show. That’s it.”
According to John, several of the SYSTEM members would prefer to be a lot more active on the live circuit. “I think we would like to be working a lot more, but Serj also has a bad back now; he’s messed up his back somehow,” he said. “And he just doesn’t wanna tour as much as the rest of us do. Look, if my wife told me that we were gonna have sex once a year, I’d be divorced. So you figure that out for what it is.
“I don’t think this is sustainable,” John admitted. “The rest of us wanna work a lot more than he does. Now I don’t know if that means we’re just gonna break up and forget about it and call it a career or if we’re gonna move forward with somebody else or if Serj is gonna come around. Ultimately, the best-case scenario for me is Serj comes around and we can do, like, 15, 20 shows a year. Even that would be enough. We’d be able to go to places that we haven’t gone in a long time and play in front of fans that have never seen us play. That’s important to me.”
Dolmayan added: “I don’t know what’s gonna happen. Even talking about SYSTEM kind of bums me out, because I know what our potential is. And I know that if we make an album, it’ll be fantastic ’cause we have songs that have been ready for five [or] six years now; we just have to go in and record ’em. And I don’t know if that’s gonna happen or not.”
The drummer concluded: “You only get one shot at life. Make the best of it.”