Serj Tankian suggested System of a Down move on with new singer

Hachette Books

Serj Tankian has revealed that he suggested to his System of a Down bandmates that they should move on with a new singer in his place.

The news comes in an excerpt from Tankian’s upcoming memoir, Down With the System, published by Rolling Stone. In the book, Tankian writes that he told guitarist Daron Malakian, bassist Shavo Odadjian and drummer John Dolmayan that they should “find a new singer” during a band meeting at the end of 2017.

“We can be the unique band that’s able to make this transition amicably, where the member of the band who’s leaving is 100 percent on-board with the new direction,” Tankian told the rest of System. “I’ll do press and talk about it positively. I’ll make it clear that I support you guys.”

At the time, System of a Down was in the middle of a well-publicized creative stalemate, which continues to this day — save for a pair of new songs in 2020, the band hasn’t released any fresh material since 2005. Tankian was also dealing with health issues, which impacted his desire to tour.

“I don’t think the guys were totally shocked by my announcement,” Tankian writes in Down with the System. “In fact, I almost sensed they’d expected it, or at least something like it. They didn’t dismiss the idea outright, but their collective response at the time was for me to essentially pump the brakes.”

Upon agreeing to a looser live schedule, Tankian decided to stay on. A year later, though, Odadjian revealed that they’d auditioned a singer to replace Tankian, but he “couldn’t scream and growl.”

Down With the System will be released Tuesday, May 14. Tankian remains in System of a Down, and they’re playing a co-headlining San Francisco show with Deftones in August.

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