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JOHN DOLMAYAN on SYSTEM OF A DOWN’s inability to make a new album: “We’re Squandering” Our Gift

SYSTEM OF A DOWN has toured on and off since ending his hiatus in 2011, but has only managed to record two songs in the past 17 years, “Protect the Earth” and “Genocidal Humanoidz”. Released in November 2020, the tracks were driven by the conflict between Artsakh and Azerbaijan, with all proceeds supporting humanitarian efforts in SYSTEM OF A DOWNthe ancestral homeland of Armenia. Along with other fan donations on their social pages, they raised over $600,000.

Asked in a new interview with Sona Oganesyan what is the experience of releasing new SYSTEM OF A DOWN music to fans after so long has been like for him, drummer John Dolmayan said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): “Well, there are positives and negatives, because the path to get somewhere is also important; how you achieve something is part of the process. So it wasn’t the best for me. But in the end, because it was not for me… i will never make a dollar from these songs. I dedicated my whole life to publishing these songs, all the royalties, everything goes to Armenian causes. So it was never about finances for me. So in this way it was incredibly successful for me personally. And while it was good to release something, it also reminds you of the potential, because obviously we still have something to give to the world. And when you release something that really has an impact, you’re like, ‘Why don’t we do this all the time?’ And then I go down the rabbit hole of frustration and anger.”

He continued, “I’m a sensitive person, so I can’t just hold this stuff in; it’s got to come out somehow. And it takes me a long time to deal with it and deal with it, because I’m also realistic in that life is over; you only have a certain amount of time. And here we are. We have this gift that came from God or elsewhere, and we are wasting it. C It’s an insult to everyone who tries to succeed in every endeavor they try to make. And here we are – we’ve succeeded, we’ve got the talent, we’ve got the ability, we’ve got an adoring fanbase, we’ve sold, I don’t know, anything – 30 million albums or more – and they’re hungry for it, and we just don’t It’s like the worst – having the ability to doing something and not doing it is, I think, the worst thing in the world from the perspective of being an artist. You’re just hurting yourself.

Pressed to know if he sees a way or a way forward where he and the other members of SYSTEM OF A DOWN can agree on how to make a new full album, John said, “Yeah, if my band members would listen to me and just put everything aside and just say, ‘Okay, let’s go and make the best album we can do and don’t care where that’s coming from. the music or who wrote the lyrics or what that person has done in the past.’ I’m ready to put all that aside. I’m not part of a group that will do that, unfortunately.

In 2018, the guitarist Daron Malakian publicly accused singer Serge Tankian of not wanting to record, Tankian responding that the creative and financial issues with Malakian leads to a dead end. In a message on Facebook, Tankian wrote that Malakian wanted to control SYSTEMof the creative process, taking more money from publishing and being the only band member to speak to the press.

In an interview with guitar world magazine, Malakian was asked about the chances of more new music from SYSTEM OF A DOWN in the near future. He replied: “I never say never, but at the same time, I don’t intend to do anything with it anymore. SYSTEM OF A DOWN immediately or just after [these two songs]. It really seems like our fans are loving these new songs. Its important to me.”

He continued, “We’ve added two new songs to the SYSTEM catalog that are on par with anything we’ve released and our fans have accepted it that way, which means a lot to me. That’s kind of where we’ll leave it for now. If later, we’ll talk about it, but for now I’ll keep doing what I’m doing and everyone else will keep doing what they’re doing. It’s cool, I’m really happy with the response we got.”

A little over a year ago, SYSTEM OF A DOWN bass player Chavo Odadjian discussed his band’s inability to record a full track of his “Mezmerize” and “Hypnotize” LPs, released in 2005. During an appearance on MACHINE HEAD leader Robb Flynnit is “No Fucking Regrets with Robb Flynn” podcast, chavo said about the overwhelmingly positive reaction to “Protect the Earth” and “Genocidal Humanoidz”“To me, this is all bittersweet, because I think we can still do it, but because of misunderstandings [between] band members, we don’t. Look at us, we have a common cause. We get together, we make two songs, two clips.

“I’m that member that everyone is always like my best friend, but they’re not so much best friends with each other,” he explained. “They are, but they have differences of opinion and stuff. I have a way of understanding each member and saying, ‘Man, we can get over this. It’s not that bad – no one fucked anyone’s wife; no one has done any of those things that can really destroy a relationship. It’s just a difference of opinion on things. And I think people should be [able to] figure it out. But because, I think, of what we had, I think it’s, like, some people are stuck in what we had and some people want to move on and not do what we had and do something totally different, which is also false. I don’t think we should do anything totally different; I think we should do something both agree [on]. And we are struggling [agreeing on a direction]and that’s where we are.

“So for me, it’s bittersweet, because I see everybody, and everybody, like, ‘We love chavo.’ And I’m, like, ‘I love you,’ but then they can’t work together.”

chavo went on to reiterate his belief that the differences between the SYSTEM limbs are not insurmountable. “I don’t think anything that horrible happened,” he said. “We’re all alive. We’re all friends. I swear when there are conversations, it’s very legit, very affectionate. Nobody hates each other. They’re very polite to each other. Serj and Daron, when they talk, they are connected, they are nice to each other. Nobody hates, nobody insults, nobody says ‘fuck you’, nobody says ‘you ruined…’, ‘you did that’. It’s just this section that’s screwed up.

Daron brought these songs, ” chavo said, referring to “Protect the Earth” and “Genocidal Humanoidz”. “And we’ve worked that way before. A song like ‘War?’ was introduced by Daron – it was a Daron song; Daron brought it, and it happened. And then there’s a song like ‘Sugar’where I took this. And there’s a song like ‘Question!’ where Serj brought it [in]. So we have different ways of writing songs, [and] it should be like that again. But because of what happened, I feel like it’s become a big deal now.

“I think at the end of things, when we’re old and gray, we’re going to look back and be, like, ‘Fuck, we were idiots’ for not taking the time and seizing the day. I believe that you have to seize the day in everything I do, and that’s what I do – that’s why I’m so busy these days.

“Like I said, I’m telling you here, nothing happened that can’t be fixed. So I still have hope. I do everything knowing that SYSTEMis not dead, and he was not dead.”