Serj Tankian storms the stage up with his intense passion and energy. The talented and beloved Lebanese-born frontman of System Of A Down is also known for a political activist informing people by vitriol which are delivered pointedly throughout songs like “Toxicity” and “Chop Suey!” And Tankian has recently made an interview where he explained his songs from his latest solo EP along with talking about people fighting for opinion conflicts and much more.
Serj Tankian is regarded as one of the best vocalists in heavy metal, with praise given to his unusual delivery and his wide vocal range. But it is not only the music that he is passionate about. Tankian is also passionate about human rights, recognition of genocides, and social justice and uses often these traits to shape his lyrical style. He also covers current issues in his music. In some ways, he preaches to the choir by covering current issues in his music, and his fans really like his political messages.
Truth to Power
Tankian spent most of 2020 at his home in New Zealand with his family and returned to the US in October 2020. The Grammy winner talented musician started with System Of A Down on the Sunset Strip in the mid-’90s in a warm manner that shows almost his onstage passion, while he was connecting from his home in Los Angeles. At the beginning of the conversation, he tells how he decided to use the songs in his Truth to Power film.
“The songs were mostly written five to six years ago. And at the time, a couple of them, especially “Electric Yerevan” and whatnot; had such a punk ethos that I thought that they might be good as a System collaboration, and at the time we were talking and kind of playing around with ideas of working together. Ultimately, not get into the nitty-gritty, we just couldn’t see eye to eye creatively and philosophically to move forward with the idea of a record. So we all just kept on doing our own thing, and I finished these songs,” he says. And then continues to explain what happens with people, those who don’t actually share the same views during reaching out to the people through his music.
“I have been blocked and I have blocked a bunch of people over political stuff, over negativity, over ethical rules on social media, if you will, because I’m unapologetic in terms of my activism and political views. And not just in U.S. politics, but Armenian politics and Israeli politics and French politics and Canadian politics, Venezuelan politics. You’re gonna piss off a whole area of people because you’re involved and usually the reaction is, ‘Why don’t you just stick to writing music?’ So instead, I just made Truth to Power for those people. To just say, ‘You know, we can do more. We’re human beings on our way to enlightenment, hopefully, we can use a screwdriver and, I don’t know, paint at the same time; more than one thing we could do as beings.’ But that’s gonna happen, the banning happens, unfortunately.”
The backgrounds of Serj Tankian new songs and lyrics
Afterward, Serj Tankian tells his song’s background starting from “Rumi,” where he gives advice to his son with the lyrics. System of A Down‘s frontman explains how he got his sense of justice in the first place.
“My mom’s very God-fearing, actually. And my dad’s very comical and non-political. So it definitely wasn’t them. I got my activism from my grandfather, who was a strong activist worker. But I think I got my activism from my own experience of the Armenian Genocide issue being taboo in the United States as far as political circles. And me going, ‘Wait a minute, this is a democracy, how could a historical truth and relevance be discounted for political expediency or economic purposes?’ That made me an activist of other causes because it made me go ‘if this is under the carpet, because someone’s selling Apache helicopters to Turkey, then how many other truths are being denied for those type of nefarious reasons?” Tankian says and continues expressing his solution opinions.
Only educated people can argue without throwing fish, right? I mean, only cultured and educated people. The solution is to reverse the Reagan-era cuts in public education that have been going through all the democratic presidents as well. Actually, you know, we’re the richest country in the world, let’s spend on equity on our own people. We have some of the best tech giants in the industry, some of the biggest creatives in the world. So why can’t we use that to the advantage of our people and create the smartest class of people on the planet?”
Dave Grohl is everywhere
As they get closer to the conclusion, the band’s frontman Serj Tankian is also asked if there is any update for System of A Down.
“Thanksgiving! It’s not as bad as people think at all. We have immense love and respect for each other as artists and friends and family. And so politically, you know, it’s just we’re completely different, opposite sides of the spectrum. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t have a brother-in-law who is politically different, to be honest. Why should it be any different just because we’re in a band together? System of A Down had a full tour last year that was canceled, and it’s looking like this year won’t happen, although our L.A. shows might happen closer to the last quarter of the year.”
System of A Down is currently scheduled for Oct. 22 and 23 at the Banc of California Stadium. You can also check out our article for more information on Serj Tankian‘s latest solo EP, Elasticity.