Serj Tankian owns up to System of a Down's creative hiatus: "I and only I was responsible for it"
Tankian released a long, detailed public statement via Facebook in which he discussed creative and financial differences with the band and the reason for not mkaing new music yet.
Out of all the bands in the recent wave of reunions, the most frustrating has to be that of System of a Down. In 2006, the band announced that it was going on hiatus, only to make an onstage return in 2011. But even seven years after reuniting there's no sign of any new material and their gigs and tours have been sporadic, to say the least.
In his recent candid interview with Kerrang! magazine, guitarist Daron Malakian revealed how lead singer Serj Tankian was largely the cause of the hiatus in 2006, due to creative differences. “There’s just a certain way that System make albums, and there’s a bunch of us that want to make an album that way and there is, I guess, one of us that doesn’t want to make an album that way and wants to make an album his way,” explained Malakian.
He went on to reveal how Tankian was not even interested in making their most recent albums, 2005's 'Mesmerize' and 'Hypnotize.' He said, "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."
In response to Malakian's claims, Tankian took to his Facebook page Thursday night (12 July) to deliver a lengthy confessional of his own, and it contains a number of major revelations about why the band actually went on hiatus and why they haven’t released a new album in nearly 13 years.
Firstly, Tankian admitted that the band’s long hiatus was, in fact, his call. He revealed, “It is true that I and only I was responsible for the hiatus SOAD took in 2006. Everyone else wanted to continue at the same pace to tour and make records.”
Tankian seemed to agree with Malakian on one thing though - that artistic differences initially played a part in the hiatus. He explained: “I’ve always felt continuing to do the same thing with the same people over time is artistically redundant even for a dynamic outfit like ours. By that time I felt that I needed a little time to do my own work.”
The Armenian-American alt rocker also spoke about a few financial differences that he had during the later years of the band, claiming that Malakian was mostly running the show and taking the larger share of the cake. “By the time 'Mezmerize' / 'Hypnotize' came around … Daron [was] controlling both the creative process and making the lions share of publishing,” he said.
Tankian confirmed Malakian's claim that he wanted nothing to do with the 'Mesmerize'/'Hypnotize' albums as well. “I wanted to leave the band before 'Mezmerize'/'Hypnotize' for these developing reasons. This is why I personally don’t feel as close to the music on those records. There were songs I wanted to bring in but was hampered by unkept promises coupled by my own passivity at the time.”
After the band got back together in 2011 to resume touring, Tankian said he was hesitant to make a new album for fear into encountering the same old problems again. However, a couple years ago, he approached his bandmates with a “proposition for a way forward as a band.”
Among his long and detailed list of requests were “equal creative input,” an “equal publishing split” and a creative approach in which the band would “develop a new concept or theme so that it’s not just a record but a full experience.”
Unfortunately, it hasn’t worked out thus far, and Tankian concluded his statement by apologizing to the band’s fans: “My only regret is that we have been collectively unable to give you another SOAD record. For that, I apologize.”
With a reunion that is already on shaky grounds, it will be interesting to see how these revelations affect the band in the near future. For now, System of a Down is scheduled to play a handful of tour dates on the West Coast this fall. Read Serj Tankian's full statement below via his Facebook page.