System of a Down's John Dolmayan Says the Band Should Have Parted Ways with Serj Tankian in 2006

"I think we wasted 15, maybe 20 years of our lives waiting"

BY Allie GregoryPublished Jan 3, 2023

Over the last couple of years, founding System of a Down vocalist Serj Tankian and longtime drummer John Dolmayan have sparred over politics, with the latter taking pretty extreme stances on right-wing topics while the former attempts to smooth things over in the public eye. Now, Dolmayan is taking shots at Tankian, saying that the band should have dumped him following their most recent studio album, 2005's Hypnotize.

Speaking with the Battleline Podcast, the drummer suggested that Tankian "hasn't really wanted to be in the band for a long time," adding that the band "probably should have parted ways around 2006."

He explained [as transcribed by Blabbermouth]:

We tried to get together multiple times to make an album, but there were certain rules set in place that made it difficult to do so and maintain the integrity of what System of a Down stood for. So we couldn't really come together and agree. And part of that is Serj's fault, and part of that is my fault, and [Shavo Odadjian's] and [Daron Malakian's] as well. But at the end of the day, if you have a majority of the band thinking one way and one person thinking the other, it's very difficult to come together and make music thinking that person is important.

When asked to clarify what he meant when he said SOAD should have "parted ways," Dolmayan clarified that "if Serj didn't wanna be in the band at that time, we should have just moved on and done it with somebody else."

He continued:

But that's what happens when you're loyal and you really wanna make it work; you'll put up with things that may be detrimental to the health of the band or the health of the situation. Maybe it would have been better if we moved on and got another singer for an album or two and continued to make music and brought Serj back later if he wanted to come back. That probably would have been better. But as it is, I think we wasted 15, maybe 20 years of our lives waiting.

The drummer's statement comes just months after Tankian announced that SOAD would have something to share at some point in 2023, though the details of whatever's to come remain shrouded in mystery. Meanwhile, the singer's solo career has remained rather active, with his Perplex Cities EP arriving just back in October — though you won't hear much in the way of praise for the project from Dolmayan. 

"Every member of this band is very important to the overall sound of the band. And you'll know this by listening to anybody's side projects," the drummer continued, "they're never quite that good compared to System."

He added: "In fact, I think a lot of 'em aren't very good at all. And when you compare that to what we do together as System, you understand why the team matters and having certain talents come together and merge matter and that magic thing captured doing that matters."

Making note of Tankian's "bad back," which has apparently gotten in the way of the band's performing schedule, Dolmayan conceded that he'd be happy if the band could play 15 to 20 shows per year. Though it remains to be seen whether Tankian will want to reunite with his bandmate after all this smack-talk; the vocalist has yet to respond publicly to Dolmayan's statements. 

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