It’s now been 17 years since System of a Down released a new studio album, and drummer John Dolmayan thinks they may have been better off moving on without singer Serj Tankian at the time the band went on hiatus in 2006.
While System of a Down continue to be an active band, playing sporadic shows and releasing a pair of surprise singles in 2020, the multi-platinum act’s internal conflicts have been well documented. A few years back, Tankian and guitarist-vocalist Daron Malakian each opened up about the creative differences that led to a dearth of new music from the acclaimed metal band.
In the summer of 2018, Malakian told Kerrang! magazine, “If everyone got together and was ready to play ball, I have an album ready. If it was up to me, System would have never gone on hiatus. … To be honest with you, Serj didn’t even want to make [the 2005 albums] Mezmerize and Hypnotize. We really begged him to make those records. At that time, he felt like he was out.”
Shortly thereafter, Tankian took responsibility for the band’s hiatus, writing in an open letter, “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.”
In a new interview with the Battleline podcast (as transcribed by Blabbermouth), Dolmayan delivered some brutally honest opinions on how System should have proceeded, saying, “Serj hasn’t really wanted to be in the band for a long time. And quite frankly, we probably should have parted ways around 2006. 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.”
The drummer continued, “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 [bassist] Shavo [Odadjian’s], and Daron’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.”