SYSTEM OF A DOWN
|Primary Role in SOAD||Vocals|
|Secondary Role in SOAD||Keyboards, Samples, Guitar|
|Other Projects||Serjical Strike Records, Axis of Justice, Serart, Screamers, Elect the Dead, ElectTheDead.com|
|Birth Date||August 21, 1967|
|Birth Place||Beirut, Lebanon|
|Current Residence||Los Angeles, California|
|Education||Bachelor's Degree in Business and Marketing|
|Former Occupation(s)||Qualified Accountant|
|Height||6'1 feet (73 inches, 185 cm)|
Serj and Tom Morello (guitarist most closely associated with Rage Against the Machine and Audioslave) are co-founders of the nonprofit organization Axis of Justice. The group works with grassroots political organizations to combine music with sentiments of anti-war beliefs, anti-racism, anti-censorship, and anti-corporatism. In 2003, Serj and Turkish-Armenian musician Arto Tunçboyacıyan pursued an experimental System of a Down side-project album, Serart, that was released on Serj's own record label, Serjical Strike.
- "...If you've ever heard bombs fall in a city, you will have a different sensitivity to dropping bombs on a city."
- ―Serj Tankian
- "We were discussing the Boston Tea Party and the Boston Massacre. This is an Armenian school, where we all know about [Armenian] history and the [Armenian] Genocide. To us, that’s a massacre - one and a half million people! When I pointed out that something like five people had died in the Boston Massacre, the whole class laughed."
- ―Serj Tankian
College & Early CareerEdit
Serj attended CSU after graduating from high school, earning his bachelor's degree in Business and Marketing, which he considered at the time to be the most financially logical route to take. But nevertheless, Serj’s interest in activism only continued to grow throughout college, as did his realm of musical taste which now includes punk and metal bands.
After graduating, he bounced from job to job through manufacturing, retail, and accounting among several companies, before setting up a small business of his own called Propriety Vertical Industry Modular Accounting Software. There, he was self-employed, independent, and free to spend his spare time as he pleased as he worked on his own time. Serj says that he and a small crew “developed customized accounting software systems for the jewelry industry in Calfiornia” and “worked manufacturing a wholesale, fully-integrated accounting system for jewelers and an accounting system of the metal industry.” But at the same time, he was slowly developing skill as a keyboardist and vocalist into his early-to-mid-twenties.
While still operating the business, Serj joined his first band with a few of his Amerenian-American friends. He was the band's keyboardist, and was heavily influenced by Eastern music that he had grown up on, especially Armenian folk songs. The band settled on the name Forever Young in 1994 and shared rehearsal space with another local all-Armenian band called Soil. Soil consisted of young guitarist Daron Malakian, Dave Hagopyan on bass, and a drummer that went by the name Domingo. But Soil was still without a lead vocalist.
Serj became quickly acquainted and friendly with the members of Soil, and being that the two bands were often spending time with each other in the same practice space, members of Soil often caught strong scents of Serj's talents. They were exposed to not only his ability on keyboards, but his exotic flair for singing, and the sounds of Armenian folk music that clearly influenced his creativity. Soil soon sought out Serj to complete their ensemble.
Indeed Serj left Forever Young and joined Soil as lead vocalist, adding his own undertones of the Old Country to their already heavy metal sound. In 1995 as Soil became more and more proactive as a band, Armenian-born friend Shavo Odadjian began managing the foursome. Shortly after his arrival, Shavo arranged their first gig, opening at the Café Club Fais Do-Do located between Culver City and downtown Los Angeles. The nonchalant performance went over smoothly, but not long after it took place, "creative tensions" and mere general disagreements caused Dave Hagopyan and Domingo to depart from Soil. This left Serj and Daron, two polar opposites, each other. The two of them turned to Shavo, who happened to be somewhat of an amateur guitarist, and talked him into becoming the band's new bassist. Yet this left the roll of drummer unfilled.