Serj Tankian on New SOAD: 'It's Not Something I Can Do Right Now'

"A new record requires three years," the frontman explains.

Ultimate Guitar

It seems like we won't be expecting the new System of a Down record any time soon after all, as frontman Serj Tankian firmly stated that such project is not something he is willing to do at the moment.

During a recent chat with Artist Direct, the singer explained that a new album would require at least three years, which is not something he can commit himself to.

"I can't write a forced record," Tankian said "It's like romancing someone at a time you don't want to be romantic. It's not even a choice. We've enjoyed touring a lot. All of the tours have been well-received. We play really tightly - probably better than we ever have. It's been cool. A new record requires three years. It's not something I can do right now. When I can commit to a three-year album cycle, I'll be down to do it."

The singer elaborated further, saying, "You can't take orders. We're not making pizza. [laughs] You can't do it on anyone else's timeframe."

When asked to talk about what he's been up to the most lately, Tankian went on to speak about his "disarming time paintings" venture, a project in which he made paintings and special musical compositions he embedded into each of the pieces.

"For the last few months, I've focused on doing this music-embedded painting," the vocalist said. "I had never painted in my whole life, but I came up with this whole idea. Music has become so temporal and almost devalued due to the piracy. I have all of these painter friends who create these incredible paintings. I was thinking, 'How do I make my music an exclusive experience?' I said, 'Well, why don't I create a musical painting?' In other words, I'll have the speakers in there and an mp3 player and create a piece of music."

What most SOAD fans would probably like to know at the moment is how will the singer's attitude influence the band. As previously reported, the tensions started emerging after bassist Shavo Odadjian's recent online outburst in which he bashed Tankian for holding the band back, going far enough to actually consider a replacement vocalist.

Apart from the musical paintings project, the frontman is also preparing to unchain two independent releases during the summer.

100 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Musical Paintings? I want those drugs.
    doable, QR-CODEs embedded somewhere within the paintings that could lead you to a song download, whatever... endless possibilities (not really) !
    Replace Serj? Might as well call yourselves something different then.
    They SHOULD release an album under a different name until Tankian wants to play ball.
    You mean a name like Scars on Broadway?
    Now that's my fear. Scars on Broadway is a good band in their own right, but SOAD headed by Daron Malakian could be a kinda scary thing.
    Absolutely agree. Every SOAD member is irreplaceable. They'll lose their unique signature sound without anyone of the original four.
    Fair enough. I adore SOAD and grew up listening to them but I'm not desperate for a new album. I'd much rather wait until they're all totally ready and willing.
    Nothing would be worse then waiting all this time for a SOAD album, then it turning out to be shit.
    Serj Trollkian. That sucks
    Holy shit, that's the first time I see one of your comments getting upvotes.
    Big SOAD fan and thought touring was a sign of an upcoming album, I guess not. As for 3 year cycle... it's been 8 years Serj! First 5 albums released over a 7 year period. I will honestly be surprised now if we ever see another SOAD studio album. Get some SOB albums out Daron
    In my opinion, if Serj wants to wait to do a proper SOAD record and wait until the time is right to get away from his solo stuff, than Malakian should do the same thing and make another Scars on Broadway album.
    How does a SOAD album take 3 years? I love it but its not particularly complicated stuff...
    I think he might of meant the entire album process: Writing from scratch, recording, video maybe, and touring to support the album would take three years I would think. I don't know the specific context in which he was talking
    Yea you know it's not that complicated trying to create music better than anyone else's at the time. Do you want them to come out with a CD in 1 year, you'll hate it I guarantee you. Music takes time, patience, thought. I feel there needs to be a legitimate reason for an album to be released.
    or they could take a 3 year album cycle that turns into a 5 year album cycle that turns into a mega hyped pile of crap, ala guns n roses. i find that albums that are made the quickest end up being the best, since inspiration is a fleeting thing and the best songs are written on those inspirations.
    I really can't blame Serj given Shavo's outburst online, but I just hope he doesn't get lost in his solo career cause the rest of the band obviously want to write new stuff and we could get into a STP situation if the tension rises
    The big difference here is that Serj isn't acting like a younger Axl-Rose.
    It will never reach STP situation, I guess. They won't let it happen. Serj is not quite ready, better he gets ready now, than release some sh-t later.
    Yeah I just meant in terms of the rest of the band wanting to progress and doing something radical like firing him to do it, and unless it gets REALLY f*cked up, I doubt there will be any lawsuits. I sincerely hope that doesn't happen though.
    Would be awesome to hear some new SOAD but I wouldn't wanna listen to it if his heart's not in it. Still seems like he's being a bit of a d-bag to me...
    You can't make someone write if he doesn't want to.
    Oh I'm sorry, did I say otherwise?
    No but you said he's a douchebag because he doesnt want to write
    He's letting his fellow band members down. Douchebag is an accurate description if you ask me.
    He's being honest to himself, forcing himself and do a shitty work would be letting his bandmates down.
    Shitty work would still put food on the table though.
    they don't need "food on the table". they want a new record, and wanting a new record is fine, but if half the bands brains doesn't feel like writing for SOAD, what can you do really ?
    If anything, why don't the other 3 band members write the album and then Serj just come in and maybe tweak parts and just sing? That most definitely won't take 3 years.
    imo what makes SOAD is that the vocals and music are completely in sync most of the time. Serj doesn't sing over riffs he sings with them. I imagine that would kill a lot of their creativity
    It's clear that SOAD fans aren't TOOL fans... Waiting for albums is all TOOL fans do, lol.
    Sounds like a self obsessed twat to me. Quit the band if you can't commit to it. Yes I think I will let my bandmates (without whom no one in the world would even know who I am) sit in limbo because I want to make noise come out of a painting. Seriously dude? Pull your head out of your ass
    kill it
    BS on the three years. How long do you think it took to write and record Toxicity. Some of the best albums in history were recorded within days, then follow up with a tour for a year.
    I'm really a fan of everything Serj is doing right now. He's doing whatever the hell he feels like which is what he deserves to do. I just hope they make an album before they suck =/
    Just like Led Zeppelin and RATM. The band is ready but singer always got a problem.
    Difference though is that RATM continued on with Audioslave, aka RATM with Chris Cornell instead of Zack De La Rocha. SOAD should do something similar if they want to, I sure as shit know the fans want it.
    aaand how it was with Audioslave? The band was ready, but... I agree, they should take some new guy, get a new name to avoid any lawsuit and go on.
    I really hope that his album that isn't the orchestra is secretly the next SOAD album and they've been trolling the shit out of us this whole time.
    If Serj doesn't want to do it, that's cool I can respect that. In the interim Zack de la Rocha should do vocals with the rest of soad. Not sure how it would turn out but would definately be something different.
    He's being reasonable (minus that trippy painting thing), but I would be beside myself with joy to see more SOAD
    If he doesn't want to make a new record with SoaD good on him. I personally would rather hear his solo work anyway. Why would SoaD fans want to listen to a 'forced' record? Why flame him if his heart is not in it? That's just childish. They could always get a new vocalist... But lets be real, Serj is the only irreplaceable member of the band
    "commit to a three-year album cycle" Wow! I doubt it takes three years to get an album going. Journey and Van Halen for the longest time put out an album every year it seemed in the 70's/80's.
    Ehhhhh fair enough honestly. Since this statement is not much different of what was said before that a new soad album will be done when its right to be done.
    Good for Serj. Don't get forced into it if the heart is somewhere else. SOAD has an impressive legacy so far, mind. We don't want to see it destroyed because they hastily want to create an album.
    I don't see why this get so many dislikes, I will say one word: integrity. You should all be grateful that Serj wont release a half baked album like all these washed up bands today (except for Deftones, Deftones are awesome).
    Ugh, it's not like it'd be the old SOAD anyway. He's just not as enraged, drugged up or heartbroken as he used to be and that's what made the band so good. Money and fame changes people and I think he would need some serious trauma in his life to make another solid SOAD album.
    "A new record requires three years." According to what Serj? I'm sorry, you can do your own thing, but that statement is dumb.
    How so? The writing process to get more than the general number of songs for an album. Rehearsing, pre production then actually going into the studio to do it, advertising and then touring to promote said album. It's not far off depending on how long the tour is going to be as well as accounting for other variables. Side projects mainly.
    I honestly can't think of a more boring lead singer to watch than Serj. Great melodies, great voice, horrible live energy
    Stephen Vaughn
    Now I agree with you, but back in the day Serj was ****ing awesome. They all were, but it's hard to keep that tour energy up for such a long damn time.
    You know what, the guy got called out for holding back System of a down, and he swallowed a nut and said "yup, it's my fault because....". Love him or hate him, at least we don't have to wonder when or if they're coming back.
    SOAD without Serj wouldn't be right. If he's not in the right place to make that record, I can't hold that against him. Sucks if Shavo and the others are frustrated, but as a fan I want a new album that is SOAD in its real form. Also, the idea of a replacement singer is ridiculous.
    They should just make a side project. That's what they are for; Outlets to create music that isn't possible in the current band situation.
    Maybe sad, but a forced record is a bad record. I can't wait to see them this summer for the first time !
    1st of all, SOAD does not owe us anything, and neither does Serj. 2nd, Serj is IRREPLACABLE. 3rd, wouldn't you rather have a genuinely focused SOAD album than a forced one with an unwilling Serj?
    Meh, haven't cared for them much since Toxicity. Last two albums were peices of shit imo.
    While I somewhat agree, I'd be careful saying that - there are several folks who claim Mesmerize and Hypnotize to be their best.
    hardly their best albums, but I wouldn't call them "shit" as there are some really good songs in both of those albums
    Maybe he should start "taking the pill, bro." Plus. His political agenda has swayed far away from the ruthless rhetoric he had against the end of the Clinton administration and during the Bush era. Like it or not, if he's not as angst-ridden against the government, much of his material (the social commentary) is void and devalued. There's still plenty in this world to be pissed off about, he just needs to channel that energy from their early albums.
    I really enjoy the entire SOAD discography, but I think you bring up a good point about the material.
    Vicryl 2.0
    lol. if you listen to his songs with a functioning common sense, not all of his songs are about politics.
    As much as I understand the creative process needing the right timing, maybe he should step down from SOAD and let the band to move on rather than selfishly hold them back.
    I don't understand the hype this guy gets.
    I'm not immensely interested in SOAD or Serj but I can aknowledge as an artist he probably deserves the hype because he is original with his art. I don't really appreciate the constant drooling fans do over every single tiny piece of crap that falls out of Tankian, though
    Anyone else see the irony in Serj bashing the music industry for piracy, while essentially using an MP3 to create his "music art?"
    Err... How is that irony? He's composing a piece of music, then creating an entire piece of art to go with it... Not exactly piracy.
    I can't read some of this comentaries. I think Serj and Daron are the leaders of the band, and please, stop ****ing up this, Serj sings, and your brain comes up rapidly with that voice, and Daron, maybe he is not the best singing but, he sings very well. Take for example all the Toxicity album, all the songs, Shimmy and Aerials specifically, or the first album, SOAD, with that mix of Heavy metal and and some Armenian sounds, it's the perfect style. If Serj says that we need to wait 3 years for a new album, what's the matter? Shavo has some reason too about this, maybe the Serj's behavior is not the appropriate. Serj itsn't the the only irreplaceable member of the band, everyone is irreplacable in this band, because the image of this band can't change, because, this band is unique.
    You guys are idiots, haha. Mp3 is the compressed file format created solely for the purpose of musical piracy so as to download files of music in record time with sluggish Internet connections (such as dial up, at the time). He's complaining about the pirate age whilst using a tool that effectively helped boom the downloading age of music. Get it?!?
    He was probably still in diapers while we were drooling over our new fancy 256mb mp3 players
    Stop taking the pill, bro.
    Curious... You do know what the word "irony" means, right? It's sad that you can't make a little quip about a mastermind link Serj without fanboys losing their minds. It's adorable, really.
    Oh no, you were called out for saying something extremely stupid. They all must be fanboys, right?
    MP3s created solely for the purpose of musical piracy? LOL and why the **** are you bringing up dial up? Do you actually believe it's still 2001? There's nothing wrong with saying something stupid from time to time but when you go calling people idiots for downvoting you, that in itself takes a special kind of idiot lol. Get it?!?