In a recent conversation with Patrick Ritter of WSOU 89.5 FM, Serj Tankian shed light on the early signs of System Of A Down‘s eventual disbandment. Reflecting on the band’s history, Tankian highlighted the internal conflicts and differing priorities that foreshadowed their split.

Tankian recounted a memory shared by his drummer and brother-in-law, John Dolmayan, noting: “John… recently — he’s got an incredible memory. My memory is not as good, but he basically said, ‘Yeah, ever since ’99, you were looking and going, ‘This can’t continue this way.'” This statement underscores a long-standing tension within the group.

The disparity in commitment levels between band members was a significant factor. “I think it had a lot to do with the discrepancy between our attitude and Daron‘s attitude toward the band and toward everything that was happening,” Tankian explained.

He described how Daron Malakian, the band’s guitarist, had dedicated his entire life to the band, contrasting with the broader interests and career paths pursued by other members like Dolmayan and bassist Shavo Odadjian: “I think for Daron, he had grown up with this becoming his everything. In John‘s case, for example, even though he’s played drums since he was eight years old — I think it was eight — he’s done many, many things in life. He’s had a comic book company. Shavo‘s done other things as well, even though music’s been a big part of his life. But for Daron, it was the only thing.”

Tankian himself entered the music industry later than his bandmates, bringing a different perspective shaped by diverse life experiences and a college degree: “I had done many things in life — worked in different industries, got a college degree, and went into music almost late, later than all the other guys, definitely. I think there was a lack of appreciation of stuff happening or whatever it was… I can’t remember the exact circumstance, but I felt like there was something wrong with this puzzle that I don’t think we could solve from a very early time.

“And music had become my everything at that time. I had screamed at the Gods saying that I wanna do music. And I knew that was my vision. I knew I’d be doing music for the rest of my life, no matter what, with or without System Of A Down, ’cause that was my calling. But early on, I could see that schism, that schism developing.”

In his memoir, Down With The System, Tankian also disclosed that his bandmates had auditioned for a new vocalist after he expressed his desire to leave the group in 2017 due to his dislike of touring. Although Tankian suggested a close friend as his replacement, it appears the band did not pursue this option seriously.

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