System of a Down frontman Serj Tankian and guitarist Daron Malakian are finally breaking their silence about why the rock band hasn't released new music since 2005's back-to-back albums, Mezmerize and Hypnotize.
SOAD officially went on hiatus in 2006, but reconvened four years later for live performances around the globe. Since then, the group — consisting of vocalist Tankian, guitarist/vocalist Malakian, bassist Shavo Odadjian, and drummer John Dolmayan — has continued to tour behind hits dating back to 1998.
In a recent interview to promote a new album by his side band Scars on Broadway, Malakian pointed to Tankian for the reason SOAD hasn't released new music in more than a decade.
“I don’t want to throw Serj under the bus — he’s my friend and he’s someone that I care about — but I don’t know how to change his mind. We’ve all sat down and we’ve had meetings, and he’s totally set in his way of thinking,” Malakian told Kerrang! ( Rolling Stone).
Scars on Broadway's upcoming album, Dictator, is set for release on July 20. The LP contains songs Malakian has held onto since 2012, and with little hope that SOAD will be making an album anytime soon, he decided to release them under his side project.
“Serj was never really a heavy metal or a rock guy,” Malakian said. “I don’t know if he has the same love for this kind of music as I do. I’m the kid that grew up with Slayer and Kiss on my walls … Serj didn’t grow up feeling that way. He didn’t grow up a diehard fan. So I feel like the whole experience of becoming the lead singer in a hugely successful band was different for him than my experience was for me. To be honest with you, Serj didn’t even want to make Mezmerize and Hypnotize. We really begged him to make those records. At that time, he felt like he was out.”
On Thursday (July 12), Tankian responded to Malakian's comments in a long-winded Facebook post, admitting that he is responsible for SOAD's hiatus. He defended his decision with numerous reasons, including not wanting to be repetitive with the band's sound, an equal distribution of money among band members, and his desire to go solo.
“By the time Mezmerize/Hypnotize came around we were at the diametrically opposite end on both with Daron controlling both the creative process and making the lions share of publishing not to mention wanting to be the only one to do press,” Tankian wrote. “There were songs I wanted to bring in but was hampered by unkept promises coupled by my own passivity at the time.”
Since SOAD's hiatus, Tankian has released numerous solo albums of different musical genres, and explored a career in composing films. Tankian said he approached SOAD members about two years ago with a proposition of moving forward as a band. Among the conditions he laid out were equal creative input, equal publishing splits, and developing a “new concept or theme so that it’s not just a record but a full experience.”
Tankian said he attempted to work with Malakian on songs from Scars on Broadway's upcoming album, but things didn't work out between the two musicians.
“I remember sending lots of notes on songs by Daron, mostly from his current Scars on Broadway record, most of which I didn’t consider applicable to Soad etc, they played around with some of my songs-suffice to say I think we tried,” Tankian wrote.
Tankian concluded his Facebook post noting that since SOAD members don't see eye to eye on many points, the band has set aside the idea of making new music for the time being.
Drummer Dolmayan also shared his thoughts on Instagram. “Each member of the band is equally responsible for both our incredible success on our previous recordings and our unbelievable failure to get along and make music together,” Dolmayan wrote. “Not one of us, rather ALL of us are to blame. Egomania, eccentricities, megalomania — and sometimes just stupidity all play roles.
“To our fans, I’m truly sorry for letting you down,” the drummer continued. “To the songs that could have been — I’m sorry you haven’t.”
Despite all their musical differences, Malakian and Tankian recently told Rolling Stone that everyone in the band still gets along well with each other.
Read Tankian's full Facebook post below.