Serj Tankian says the idea of System Of A Down touring now is “artistically redundant”

“David Bowie said the first two weeks of every tour is basically – I’m paraphrasing – creative; after that, it’s redundant, which is correct.”

Serj Tankian

Serj Tankian. Credit: Daniel Knighton/Getty

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Though they haven’t been particularly active in recent years – and have only released two singles in the last two decades – fans are still clamouring for more from System Of A Down.

While SOAD do play together every now and then, frontman Serj Tankian has once again poured cold water on any hopes of System Of A Down getting back on the road, going as far to say that the notion is “artistically redundant”.

During an appearance on the Soul Boom With Rainn Wilson podcast, Tankian speaks about his reluctance to embrace long periods on the road.

“We’ve had incredible, unexpected success as a very far-flung kind of progressive metal band with our Toxicity record in 2001 and touring and doing what we did. And after many years of touring, when we were making the last few records which we made together, Mezmerize and Hypnotize. Those recordings were done at the same time, then released as two records within six months of each other in 2005 and 2006,” he says [as transcribed by Blabbermouth].

“Before those sessions, when we first started those sessions, I told the [other] guys [in the band], ‘Guys, this kind of cyclical thing that we’re doing with making records for a year, touring for two years at that time, doing all this promo publicity,’ it was just cyclical. It was, like, ‘I’ve gotta stop. And I also wanna do my own thing. I have other artistic adventures that I wanna get on.’”

Tankian even says that he suggested the band go on hiatus before Mezmerize and Hypnotize were made and goes on to emphasise that his reluctance to tour doesn’t mean he doesn’t enjoy performing live. Indeed, the band headlined Sick New World in the US in April and had been lined up to return to Castle Donington for Download before Covid got in the way.

“I basically told the guys, ‘Listen, I’d like to take a hiatus. I’m not saying I never wanna do this, but I’m saying I can’t do this right now anymore. And I wanna do my own thing and also take time off and have a life, and all of that stuff.’ It wasn’t taken well at the time. I won’t get into that. But years later, we started touring again in 2011, and it became a fun thing, ’cause it left… Nothing was totally resolved creatively, but it became a fun thing because we at least put everything to the side and said, ‘Look, we’re friends, we’re brothers. We’ve known each other for a long time. We still respect and love each other. Let’s go have fun and tour together.’

“And we’ve been doing that since. Not as much as they would like, let’s say, or I’m not gonna speak for each and every person of the band, because that wouldn’t be fair of me either. But generally I’m the last person that wants to tour. Part of that is physical, because it’s tiring. I’ve done it for 20, 25 years, and I had back surgery a few years ago. I’m much better now and all of that. But part of it is that.”

He concludes: “Part of it is that it’s artistically redundant after a while, because it’s ‘Groundhog Day’; you’re repeating yourself. David Bowie said the first two weeks of every tour is basically – I’m paraphrasing – creative; after that, it’s redundant, kind of thing, which is correct. So it’s that. But I do enjoy playing with the guys, and when it’s a one-off, it’s actually fun, ’cause there’s no pressure to do this whole rigamarang of a long tour or press or anything. You just rehearse together, make your dumb jokes, have food together, and then go and play that one show and it becomes a hoorah. So that’s what we’ve been doing. And I’m grateful for that.”

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