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Serj Tankian Vocals
John Dolmayan Percussionist
Daron Malakian Guitarist, Vocals
Shavo Odadjian Bassist
System of a Down (also referred to as SOAD or System) is a four-piece Grammy-award winning band, formed in 1995 in Los Angeles, California.
All four members are of Armenian descent, grandsons of Armenian Genocide survivors, and are widely known for their outspoken views found in many of their songs. System of a Down has achieved commercial success over five albums, with singles such as "Chop Suey!" and "B.Y.O.B.". System of a Down is a part of the Axis of Justice, a non-profit organization formed by band member Serj Tankian (along with Tom Morello) that is dedicated to bringing together musicians, music fans and grassroots political organizations to fight for social justice.
The roots of System of a Down lie in the band Soil (not to be confused with SOiL), a group from Los Angeles that included Serj Tankian on vocals and Daron Malakian on guitar, as well as Dave Hagopyan (Bassist for Apex Theory) on bass and Domingo Laranio (Local Hawaii Drummer) on drums. Shavo Odadjian joined Soil quite down near the end as a guitarist. After three years, and only one live show and one jam session recording, the band split up.
In the beginning (1995 - 1998)
After Soil split up, Tankian and Malakian then formed a new band, System of a Down, based on a poem that Daron wrote. The poem's title was "Victims of a Down", but Serj Tankian thought that the word System was a much more powerful word. They called on Shavo Odadjian whom they knew from when Soil shared a recording studio with Odadjian's previous band and when Shavo was their short-lived guitar player. Odadjian was originally the band's manager and promoter. Odadjian quickly accepted the offer to join the band as the permanent bassist. Since then managerial duties have been undertaken by highly successful Velvet Hammer Music and streetwise founder David "Beno" Beneviste. One of their first releases was "Sugar", which was found on the first demo tape and they have played it at every live performance since then. They found a drummer, Andy Khachaturian, who joined the band. They then quickly made an early Untitled 1995 Demo Tape which had very early recordings of "Mr. Jack," "The Metro," and "36". After this they made Demo Tape 1 which had early versions of: Sugar, Suite-Pee, and P.L.U.C.K., as well as the rare track Dam. Demo Tape 2 was released in 1996 and had a rough demo of the song Soil as well as the most known unreleased tracks known as Honey and Temper. At the beginning of 1997 they recorded the final demo tape, Demo Tape 3 which had rough work of Peephole, War?, and Know. In mid 1997, Andy Khachaturian left the band due to a hand injury. Soon after playing at the Whisky A Go Go and Viper Room with new drummer John Dolmayan, producer Rick Rubin caught their attention and told them to keep in touch with him. Showing great interest, near the end of 1997, they made a Demo Tape 4. This demo however was not released in public or at shows rather it was made to be sent to record deals and it later leaked onto the internet. After Rick wanted them to be signed on to American/Columbia records, they began to record with his studio. Prior to 1998, their live shows were called, "The Dark Red Experience" and their logo was different from what it is now. In 1997 they won Best Signed band from the Rock City Awards.
Debut album (1998 - 2000)
In the summer of 1998, System of a Down released their debut album, System of a Down. They enjoyed moderate success with their first single "Sugar" becoming a radio favorite, followed by the singles "Spiders" and "War?". After the release of the album, System of a Down toured extensively, opening for Slayer before making their way to the second stage of Ozzfest. Following Ozzfest, they toured with Fear Factory and Incubus before headlining the Sno-Core tour with Puya, Mr. Bungle, The Cat and Incubus providing support. System was scheduled to play the 1999 Family Values Tour, but were kicked off by Fred Durst over his inability to sign the band Taproot. Fred Durst has since admitted that he was a "complete wanker" in relation to this "oversight". The band have yet to comment on Durst's involvement or commentary. In 2000, the group contributed their cover of the Black Sabbath song "Snowblind" to the Sabbath tribute album Nativity in Black 2.
Mainstream success: Toxicity (album)/Steal This Album! (2001 - 2003)
The group's big break arrived when their second album Toxicity debuted at #1 on the American and Canadian charts, eventually achieving multi-platinum certification. The album has since sold 6 million copies worldwide. It was still on top in America on the week of the September 11, 2001 attacks and the political environment caused by the attacks added to the controversy surrounding their hit single "Chop Suey!" causing it to be taken off the radio as it contained politically sensitive lyrics at the time such as "trust in my self-righteous suicide." Regardless, the video gained constant play on MTV as did the second single, "Toxicity". Even with the controversy surrounding "[Chop Suey!]" which earned a Grammy nomination, System of a Down still received constant airplay in the United States throughout late 2001 and 2002 with "Toxicity " and "Aerials". In May of 2006, VH1 listed Toxicity in the #14 slot in the 40 Greatest Metal Songs.
In late 2001, a few unreleased tracks made their way onto the Internet. The group released a statement that the tracks were unfinished material. Soon after, the band released the final versions of the songs, which were recorded at the same time, but hadn't been used for Toxicity. The result was Steal This Album!, released in November 2002. Steal This Album! resembled a burnable CD that was marked with a felt-tip marker. 50,000 special copies of the album with different CD designs were also released, each designed by a different member of the band. The name of the album is a reference to Abbie Hoffman's counter-culture book, Steal This Book and as a message to those who stole the songs and released them on the Internet. Dolmayan said in an interview "I don't care if fans download our songs from the internet but I don't like it when fans get our songs before the release date". The singles "Innervision" and "I-E-A-I-A-I-O" were released as radio-only promos and received constant airplay on alternative radio. A video for "Boom!" was filmed with director Michael Moore as a protest against the War in Iraq.
Mezmerize/Hypnotize (2005 - 2006)
From 2004 to 2005, the group produced a double album, Mezmerize/Hypnotize with the two parts released six months apart. 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 war, 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 and rapper DMX, the only artists to ever have two studio albums debut at #1 in the same year. Their second single off the Hypnotize album, "Lonely Day" was released in March in the United States.
In February of 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. The band headlined Ozzfest 2006 in cities where tour founder Ozzy Osbourne opted not to appear or wasn't playing on the main stage.
Hiatus and the future of the band (2006-present)
In May of 2006, the band announced they were going on hiatus. Daron Malakian has confirmed the break will probably last a few years, but insists that the band is not splitting up. 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 a rest."
On July 8 at the Ozzfest while playing Lonely Day, Malakian improvised the lyrics to "Lonely Day", saying "Such a lonely day, with the band/these motherfuckers I can't stand!". However, later in an interview with Kerrang!, Malakian stated that he said "this" (referring to the day) rather than "these" (referring to the band).
During their performance in Houston, Malakian also took a moment to say, "There's been a lot of rumors about us breaking up. Well don't fuckin' listen to them. Us four right here, we will always be System of a Down!"
During the hiatus, Malakian will be in a band called Scars on Broadway, and will work on its debut album in the fall. Odadjian will also be participating in the project. He will also be working on a project with RZA of Wu-Tang Clan. Tankian plans to keep recording as a solo artist/producer in "Serjical Strike", while Dolmayan plans to open a comic book store online, which should be up online in November 2007.
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."
System of a Down's latest info is that their songs will be used in the new 2006 film "Screamers". They will also appear in the movie, in an interview talking about the importance of helping create awareness and recognition of the Armenian Genocide. "Screamers" will be hitting theaters in large city markets such as New York City, Detroit, Washington D.C., San Francisco, Fresno and Boston. An earlier engagement will start exclusively in Los Angeles on Friday, December 8, 2006."
System of a Down was honored at the USC v. Cal game at the Los Angeles Coliseum in Los Angeles, CA. The Spirit of Troy also known as the Trojan Marching Band performed three System of a Down songs. John Dolmayan was kind enough to play "Toxicity" along with the marching band.
Tankian recently said that he has wanted to work on his "solo record for years". As for the future of the band, he said that he does not know whether System of a Down is over or not. He also stated that "maybe in a few years" the band would "want to make another album. It's impossible to tell right now. It'll be later down the line; then we'll be able to tell what might happen."
For the 2007 Grammys, System of a Down was nominated for Best Hard Rock Performance for "Lonely Day", but lost to Wolfmother and their song "Woman".
Music style and influences
System of a Down’s main influence is mostly from early alternative rock bands, as well as from heavy metal, punk rock, jazz, fusion, Armenian folk music (Harout, Paul, Armik), classic rock, blues, industrial genres, and Middle Eastern music. The band has used a wide range of instruments, including electric mandolins, sitars, 12-string guitars and Middle Eastern ouds. They have heavily used drop C tuning in their first three albums.
Daron has stated on several accounts that his songwriting is inspired heavily by The Beatles. Shavo's and Daron's first influences were Kiss. Shavo has also stated in a video interview at Big Day Out that he would not like to do any collaborations, because they don't want to use other people to make themselves famous. Then he quickly changed his answer and said "Mike Patton" and that they would love to do anything with him.
SERJ Serj Tankian Position: Vocals
Analysis: Subject Serj Tankian requests meeting at a local playground so that he might "shoot hoops." Examiner notes subject has a nice outside shot. Subject's warm, non-judgmental demeanor vis a vis the brutality with which he sings in System of a Down indicates, if not an interior struggle, a complex duality. Subject may or may not have been influenced by producer Rick Rubin's beard.
As with many perpetual searchers, subject Tankian strolls a path towards tranquility not in and of itself flower-lined or emotionally perfumed. A confessed devotee of the meditational arts, subject is nonetheless felled by bouts of existential angst, here centered, most old-worldly enough, on doubts of the human animal's capacity to salvage intrinsic beliefs in an increasingly self-conscious global village, "We pay so much attention to our mind that we're losing touch with our true vision, our instinct," he says. "Ever since the day we were separated from the Earth, as a culture, as a religion, we've become very left-brained, very logical. We've lost something."
Subject freely drops political jargon ("cooperate Darwinism," "Chomsky-esque") and expresses clear skepticism regarding modes and means of information dissemination, "We see the same thing on every channel," he says. "It's all very devised. It's very filtered.? Well-versed on pressing issues, he's neither apathist nor activist but instead one fascinated by the nature and conclusions of international transactions, policies and ideologies. Awareness and keen knowledge of national or global cause and effect traditionally signifies: a.) sub-conscious desire to avoid examination of the self b.) phobias regarding species extinction c.) revolutionary aspirations (imagined or real) and/or d.) imminent career as college professor.
As with Daron Malakian, this subject proves hard to classify under the four principal character orders. His curiosity regarding the validity and meaning of the methodology itself is paramount to immersion in the questioning. Subject is at times evasive, but not necessarily in standoffish manner. Inference is that, to Tankian, nothing proactive stems from absolute answers or even their quest. That established, subject identifies with members of all four orders. As former CEO of a marketing management software company, Tankian logically identifies with Bill Gates, a Rational, but seems more keenly attuned to or in reverence of Mother Teresa, a Guardian, and Gandhi, an Idealist.
It's possible subject Tankian may be a "quadjunctionary," psychoanalytically defined as "pertaining to all four orders but possessing a majority of none." Entered as evidence to the above, subject's elusory response when questioned on the nature and bias of System of a Down's curious euphony, specifically: Is their music opti or pessimistic? "I think it's neither," he says. "At some points it might be one or the other but the sum total is neither."
Subject is questioned from the six stratas as defined by Schwartz & Bristol("Altruist," "Magician," "Innocent," "Orphan," "Wanderer" and "Warrior"). Tankian's most telling responses come amid the Altruist portion, a division tackling interpersonal needs and offerings. Brief, almost Zen-esque replies to the following: What do you ask most of those around you ("a smile") and What do you offer in return ("a smile"), soundly suggest an association with simplicity as wisdom and the defeat of restrictive logic or malice via universally understood, non-lingual communication.
CONCLUSION: System of a Down singer Serj Tankian is happily trapped in an evolution towards the capacity for blind trust that intrinsically mandates eternal questioning of self and surroundings. Poetic in his musings, subject has faith in the arts for cross-cultural discourse and reserves the balance of his vitriol for stage and studio. In layman's terms: Not that many people think, sing or front a band like Serj Tankian. The guy whoops ass.
DARON Daron Malakian Position: Guitarist, Vocals
Analysis: Subject Daron Malakian is met at his house. Examiner is shown the subject's room, a dark hovel in dire need of janitorial assistance. Both the bedroom and living room are strewn with guitars and roadcases, symbolizing a strong desire for perpetual inundation in work. Absence of order (subject notes he's "no good at paying his bills") also strongly suggests Malakian prioritizes creativity above all else. Subject consumes a massive "cheese steak" during examination process.
Malakian radiates the telltale unease and intensity of a creative wizard. Examiner notes that at no time do his wheels appear to stop turning, as though even mid-analysis he's conjuring compositions or pondering certain licks, riffs and time changes. Malakian admits to being " defensive and aggro" when faced with critique of his work. "I take any criticism very personally," he says. "How can I not? This comes out of my soul. I'm like, 'Well, if you don't like it, fuck you.'"
Subject does not retreat, but overtly responds to questions, nevertheless displays a thick emotional shield. This behavior may likely stem from Malakian's prior experience with the psychoanalytical arts. Following System of a Down's initial popularity surge, subject was subject to panic attacks and, in therapy sessions that followed, lost faith in the practice. "I've been wanting to do this since I was four," Malakian asserts. "I didn't just wake up when I was eighteen and decide I wanted to join a band. If you had asked me when I was a kid what I wanted to do, I'd have said, 'Be on stage playing music.' Then it actually happened.
"I was having panic attacks, seeing shrinks. It has a lot to do with this being a business. Art and business to me just don't mix. The therapy wasn't worth shit. You go to a shrink and all they do is put you on a bunch of pills. I was like, 'fuck that.' I did it my own way. I started meditating."
Subject Malakian, a professed "people-hater," is logically hard to pin one of the four fundamental orders upon. Among those cultural icons he identifies with: Madonna and Charles Manson (both Artisans), Gandhi (an Idealist) and Karem Abdul-Jabar (a Guardian). Said methodology is thus deemed moot and subject is instead defined by a most curious footnote from his formative stage, "I used to fall asleep listening to Cannibal Corpse and Deicide when I was a teenager," he says.
Malakian displays deep vulnerability when, in detailing the primary pivotal event of his life thus far, the death of his grandmother, he's asked how he dealt with the loss. "A lot of fighting," he says. "I kicked a lot of peoples' fuckin' asses. I realized that I had a lot of aggression in me. I've had to learn to keep it in check. If someone turns around to look at my chick, I want to fucking kill them. If someone fucks with my homeboys, I want to fucking kill them. I've got to keep it in check now."
CONCLUSION: System of a Down guitarist Daron Malakian cautiously welcomes those who welcome him but reserves heavy artillery for those who'd wrong him or any loved ones. However misanthropic, he's forever faithful to those permitted passage to his exclusive sanctum. Would be fair to call a musical savant, headstrong with a devout belief in his own capacity to create titanic chunks of progressive metal. In laymen's terms: subject is an uncompromising kick ass guitar player and songwriter.
JOHN John Dolmayan Position: Percussionist
Analysis: Subject Dolmayan, despite being a "rock & roller," agrees to meet in the most un-rock A.M. hours, signaling motivation and order, again, something most un-rock. Subject maintains a meticulous room -- collections of comics, compact discs and novels are painstakingly organized for optimum efficiency. Subject's walls are covered in whimsical works of art, an ironic indicator of vicarious fancy for a man clearly rooted in reality. Later it surfaces that his bunk on System of a Down's "tour bus" is similarly arranged with soothing tokens and diversions, "I put up pictures of things I enjoy, things that comfort me," he says. "If you don't feel at home, you will get very uncomfortable."
Not twenty minutes into the examination, as dialogue turns literary, Dolmayan gifts the examiner a copy of James Clavell's "Shogun," tellingly indicating the cultural clash love epic as an inspirational favorite. Subject himself was born into war-torn Lebanon to a sax-blowing father who chose family over music, discouraging young John from pursuing the rhythmic arts as a vocation lest he suffer invariable hardships, "He knows what a musician's life is like," Dolmayan says of his paternal unit. "He had no clue I would be in a signed band one day, he figured I'd be struggling my whole life."
Clearly Dolmayan's jazz-deluged upbringing could and should be cited when attempting to explain his unorthodox drumming flare. Subject's eclectically populated personal hero Pantheon furthermore elucidates the point: Keith Moon, Maynard Ferguson, Jaco Pastorius, The Dickies, Billy Idol and Rush. Idolatry aside, subject rightfully asserts System of a Down the result of disparate roots blending mysteriously. "There's no way we can be imitated," he maintains. "We have so many influences -- we barely know what they are. How could someone copy us?"
Of the four fundamental character orders subject Dolmayan is principally a Rational with a secondary association as Artisan. His primary alignment with the likes of Douglas MacAuthur, Thomas Edison and Albert Einstein would imply a methodical mentality with emphasis on goal-sighting and eventual conquest and/or the ability to judiciously problem solve. "You have to have discipline in drumming,? he says. ?Timing is very important, but I don't want to be a robot. I like the fact that every now and then I'll go off time a little bit, every now and then my rolls aren't perfect."
Subject is questioned from the six stratas as defined by Schwartz & Bristol ("Altruist," "Magician," "Innocent," "Orphan," "Wanderer" and "Warrior"). Beneath the Innocent banner, a realm delving into childhood issues, Dolmayan is asked when he first recognized drumming as his calling. "Probably when I was one or two." he says. His early understanding of personal destiny strongly suggests fate's intervention in placing him behind the traps in System of a Down.
Dolmayan would seem the least politically motivated member of the quartet. While clearly aware of and in tune with global maladies, his wishes are immediate. As with many Rationals, he's acutely aware of his own power to affect change and so is logical and relative when asked which problem in the world he most complains about. "I've been looking for a '69 Dodge Charger for a while now," he says. "I can't find one. We've got a pretty good life here man. There's people out there who can't see, can't hear, don't have food. What I have are inconveniences."
CONCLUSION: Subject John Dolmayan cherishes order but understands and treats with reverence System of a Down's musical chaos. While his Rational instincts anchor a curious band given to amble, his Artisan element understands the importance of stretching out and travel beyond the known. In laymen's terms, the guy whoops ass on drums.
SHAVO Shavo Odadjian Position: Bassist
Analysis: System of a Down bassist Shavo Odadjian is met in his living room. Though sunny and warm outside, subject's blinds are drawn. A vast library of DVD's, an impressive home entertainment system, DJ equipment and other such gear would indicate subject's child-like predilection for fiscal indulgence in playthings. A colorful array of suspect, long glass vases also dot his interior landscape. Subject expresses an unusually deep reverence for actor Christopher Walken, something classically indicating a fetish for enigma and the occult.
Subject Odadjian is a case study in emotional duality and prolonged adolescence. His immersion in sound and pursuit of aural satisfaction stems as much from an innate drive to mold progressive metal as it does from lingering boyhood rock star obsession ("After I took tests as a kid, I'd always draw big KISS logos on the back.").
Clearly headstrong and keenly focused in the musical scope, subject seems elsewhere unsure or needing of group approval. Example: Odadjian might compose and stand steadfast by intricate and challenging basslines but may suffer unspeakable anxiety when selecting from a takeout menu and seek second or even third opinions regarding an ideal dish. Consistent with this analysis, subject seems uncomfortable at the examination's onset, initially wondering if there might be ?right? or ?wrong? answers.
Born and raised in Armenia 'till age five, subject Odadjian's early musical memories, beyond the compulsory pot and pan banging, are of watching in awe as curious images were bounced from the cosmos. "I'd see Abba on the satellite," he says. "And I'd sing all those songs, you know, 'money, money, money.'"
More so than his bandmates, subject's upbringing seems to have been somewhat emotionally sheltered. Dual maternal ethos installation -- mother and grandmother -- as well as the relative asylum of a private Christian school created circumstances ripe for eventual upheaval. Abrupt change came when, within scant years, subject transferred to public learning facility and his grandmother passed suddenly. The shift and loss seem clearly subject's benchmark episodes; radical, formative events foretelling religious doubt and forced acceptance of larger social structures.
Of the four principal character orders, subject overwhelmingly identifies with an aggregate of Artisans. Among those names eliciting instant, excited response: "Magic" Johnson, Elvis Presley, Picasso, Hugh Hefner and Mozart. However vocationally disparate (note: Christopher Walken is also and Artisan), subject's selections indicate creative virtuosity and a universal embrace of expression as release. Odadjian's secondary appreciation for Guardians, notably George Washington and Karem Abdul-Jabar (subject is apparently a Lakers' fan), disclose pride in self as ethically grounded.
Logically, when questioned from the six stratas as defined by Schwartz & Bristol ("Altruist," "Magician," "Innocent," "Orphan," "Wanderer" and "Warrior"), subject's key responses fall within the Orphan segment. Reaction to his grandmother's unforeseen death is explained as follows, "I totally lost faith, faith in everything. I was pissed. I used to pray every night and I haven't ever since. Not once. It doesn't mean I don't believe in God anymore, but I believe in my God."
CONCLUSION: System of a Down bassist Shavo Odadjian brims with zeal and is smartly aware of any inner pockets that might be jaded. Subject approaches life firstly with exuberance, is perpetually curious and so open to both hurt and learning. His association with music as suspended youth is tempered with a mature sense of its power to exorcise pesky personal demons. In laymen's terms: Shavo Odadjian is having a pretty good time and plays a whoop-ass bass.
VIDEOS COMING SOON
Icon Provided By -Rhiannon-
April 10 2009 Things are happening again, and this cult should be active again before long.
August 11th 2008 Hope everyone's having a good summer. Several things to mention - the SOB album is out now, so get that shit, people. Also, two staff members are celebrating birthday's in the near future! Des on August 13th, and Khaotic_Goth on September 4th. So go give them 10's and tell them how much you love them!
January 16th 2008 First off, happy new year everyone. I know its a little late but my internets been going a little crazy over the past few weeks. Anyway, as Des suggested, I've taken out the chat thing we had and started an off topic chat thread which hopefully more people will use. Also, I've made some minor changes to the layout to make it more readable (and also staff should now see the bar at the top with "Edit members" etc on it. If you dont, message me). Rhi x
October 4th 2007 Since the owner can’t get to his computer so often anymore, we’ve acquired three shiny new staff members. -Rhiannon-, root, desmo_vamp, admin, and dreadedcorpse616, admin. We’re all happy to help you out if you’ve got a problem or a question about the cult, and we don’t bite. We’d all like to see the cult getting nice and active again, so don’t be shy, post, start new threads! And anything else you think might be helpful. Like I said, inbox us if you need us, we’ll be happy to help. Rhi x
April 16, 2007 The cult welcomed a new staff member today. that staff member is takeawaymypain takeawaymypain has spent all day redesigning the cult and getting things together to make it more fun and active aswell as more inspiering to give more cult members more of a reason to come into the cult reg. New things will be added to the cult soon these things will be band videos, band more band games, contest, and already added is featured band icons witch we are in need of. so if you have any S.O.A.D. icons that are no bigger than 100px X 100px then please submit them into the S.O.A.D. icons thread please