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System of a Down
Soad
Systemlogo
Band Name System of a Down
Affiliation with SOAD
Year Founded 1995
Founding Members Serj Tankian, Daron Malakian, Shavo Odadjian, Andy Khachaturian (1995)
Current Members Serj Tankian, Daron Malakian, Shavo Odadjian, John Dolmayan (1995-Present)

Did you mean to find the self-titled debut album, System of a Down (album)?

System of a Down (commonly referred to as System or abbreviated as SOAD) is an American rock band, formed in 1995 in Glendale, California. They have released five albums and have become a staple on mainstream rock radio. Their works have earned them four Grammy Award nominations, of which they won one.

System of a Down is very politically active and are noted for the liberal political views expressed in their songs, tackling several subjects including the War on Drugs, religion, and especially censorship. They have actively campaigned to get Turkey to recognize the Armenian Genocide and the subject is often tackled in their songs. System of a Down is a part of the Axis of Justice, a non-profit organization co-founded by band member Serj Tankian (along with Tom Morello from Rage Against the Machine and Audioslave), dedicated to bringing together musicians, music fans, and grassroots political organizations to fight for social justice.

HistoryEdit

Soil (1993–1995)Edit

The roots of System of a Down lie in the band Soil (not to be confused with the current band SOiL), a group from Los Angeles that included Serj Tankian on vocals/keyboard, and Daron Malakian on vocals/guitar, as well as Dave Hakopyan (bassist for Mt. Helium) on bass and Domingo Laranio on drums. Shavo Odadjian joined Soil near their end as a guitarist. After three years, only one live show, and one jam session recording, the band split up.

In the beginning (1995–1997)Edit

After Soil split up, Serj and Daron formed a new band, System of a Down, based on a poem that Daron wrote. The poem's title was "Victims of the Down", but Shavo Odadjian, who was originally the band's manager and promoter, didn't like the word and thought the word "System" sounded better. Ever since Shavo joined as bassist, managerial duties have been undertaken by the Velvet Hammer Music and Management Group and founder David "Beno" Benveniste. The band then found a drummer, Andy Khachaturian. System of a Down quickly made what is known as their early Untitled 1995 Demo Tape , which had very early recordings of "Mr. Jack" (called "PIG"), along with a song called "Flake", and an early recording of "The Metro", a cover of the Berlin song of the same name. It is rumored that there are other tapes made, which contain early recordings of "Friik", "36" (called ".36"), and "Roulette". Two other songs, "X" (called "Multiply") and "Honey" were live demos at the time and were played at very early shows. After this, the band recorded three public demos, which have been numbered as Demo Tape 1 to 3, as the early 1995 demo was not discovered until much later. Many of the songs featured on the demos would eventually make their way onto the band's debut album. In mid 1997, Khachaturian left the band due to a hand injury. Soon after playing at the Whisky-A-Go-Go and Viper Room with new drummer John Dolmayan, producer Rick Rubin caught the band's attention and told them to keep in touch with him. Showing great interest, they recorded yet another demo near the end of that year. This demo, however, was made only to be sent to record companies. The tape was not released to the public until years later when it was leaked onto the Internet. After Rick helped them get signed onto American/Columbia Records, SOAD began to record in his studio. In 1997 SOAD won the Best Signed Band award from the Rock City Awards.

Debut album (1998–2000)Edit

In the summer of 1998, System of a Down released their debut album, System of a Down. They enjoyed moderate success with their first single "Sugar" becoming a radio favorite, followed by the single "Spiders". After the release of the album, System of a Down toured extensively, opening for Slayer before making their way to the second stage of Ozzfest. Following Ozzfest, they toured with Fear Factory and Incubus before headlining the Sno-Core tour with Puya, Mr. Bungle, The Cat and Incubus providing support. System was scheduled to play the 1999 Family Values Tour, but were kicked off by Fred Durst over his inability to sign the band Taproot. Fred Durst has since admitted that he was a "complete wanker" in relation to this "oversight". The band have yet to comment on Durst's involvement or commentary. In 2000, the group contributed their cover of the Black Sabbath song "Snowblind" to the Sabbath tribute album Nativity in Black 2.

Toxicity, Steal This Album! (2001–2003)Edit

The group's big break arrived when their second album Toxicity debuted at #1 on the American and Canadian charts, eventually achieving multi-platinum certification. The album has since sold 6 million copies worldwide. It was still on top in America on the week of the September 11, 2001 attacks and the political environment caused by the attacks added to the controversy surrounding their hit single "Chop Suey!" causing it to be taken off the radio as it contained politically sensitive lyrics at the time such as "(I don't think you) trust in my self-righteous suicide." Regardless, the video gained constant play on MTV as did the second single, "Toxicity". Even with the controversy surrounding "Chop Suey!" which earned a Grammy nomination, System of a Down still received constant airplay in the United States throughout late 2001 and 2002 with "Toxicity " and "Aerials". In May 2006, VH1 listed Toxicity in the #14 slot in the 40 Greatest Metal Songs. In 2001, the band went on tour with Slipknot in the United States. After seeing the success of the tour, System and Slipknot went on a Pledge of Allegiance Tour with Rammstein in 2002. In late 2001, a few unreleased tracks made their way onto the Internet. The group released a statement that the tracks were unfinished material. Soon after, the band released the final versions of the songs, which were recorded at the same time, but hadn't been used for Toxicity. The result was Steal This Album!, released in November 2002. Steal This Album! resembled a burnable CD that was marked with a felt-tip marker. 50,000 special copies of the album with different CD designs were also released, each designed by a different member of the band. The name of the album is a reference to Abbie Hoffman's counter-culture book, Steal This Book and as a message to those who stole the songs and released them on the Internet. The song "Innervision" was released as a promo single and received constant airplay on alternative radio. A video for "Boom!" was filmed with director Michael Moore as a protest against the War in Iraq.

Mezmerize / Hypnotize (2004–2005)Edit

From 2004 to 2005, the group produced a double album, Mezmerize / Hypnotize with the two parts released six months apart. The first album, Mezmerize, was released on May 17, 2005, to favorable reviews by critics. It debuted at #1 in the United States, Canada, Australia and all around the world, making it System of a Down's second #1 album. First week sales rocketed to over 800,000 copies worldwide. The Grammy Award-winning single "B.Y.O.B.", which questions the integrity of military recruiting in America, worked its way up the Billboard Modern Rock and Mainstream Rock charts. The next single, "Question!" was released with Shavo Odadjian co-directing the music video. Following the release of Mezmerize, the band toured extensively throughout the United States and Canada with The Mars Volta and Bad Acid Trip supporting.

The second part of the double album, Hypnotize, was released on November 22, 2005. Like Mezmerize, it debuted at #1 in the US, making System of a Down, along with the Beatles, Guns 'N Roses, and rappers 2Pac and DMX, the only artists to ever have two studio albums debut at #1 in the same year.

In February 2006, SOAD won the Grammy for Best Hard Rock Performance for "B.Y.O.B.", beating out other established artists such as Nine Inch Nails and Robert Plant. Their second single off the Hypnotize album, "Lonely Day" was released in March in the United States. System of a Down released "Kill Rock 'N Roll" and "Vicinity of Obscenity" as their next promo singles. The band headlined Ozzfest 2006 in cities where tour founder Ozzy Osbourne opted not to appear or wasn't playing on the main stage.

Hiatus (2006–2010)Edit

In May 2006, the band announced they were going on hiatus. Daron Malakian has confirmed the break will probably last a few years, but it was Shavo who in an interview with Guitar magazine said it will last at least 3 years, but insists that the band would not be splitting up. He told MTV, "We're not breaking up. If that was the case, we wouldn't be doing this Ozzfest. We're going to take a very long break after Ozzfest and do our own things. We've done System for over ten years, and I think it's healthy to take a rest." During their performance in Houston, Texas, Malakian also took a moment to say, "There's been a lot of rumors about us breaking up. Well, don't listen to them. Us four right here, we will always be System of a Down!". However, Malakian announced he was forming a band called Scars on Broadway, which has since been joined by Dolmayan, and will work on its debut album during autumn. Odadjian will be working on a project with RZA of Wu-Tang Clan named Achozen as well as his UrSession website/record label. Tankian plans to keep recording as a solo artist/producer with his first single being Empty Walls off his first album Elect the Dead which was released on October 23, 2007, while Dolmayan, on top of Scars on Broadway, plans to open a comic book store online, which should be up online in November 2007.

System of a Down's final performance before their hiatus took place on August 13, 2006 in West Palm Beach, Florida]]. "Tonight will be the last show we play for a long time together", Malakian told the crowd during Sunday's last performance. "We'll be back. We just don't know when." System of a Down's songs were used in the 2006 film "Screamers" by Carla Garapedian. They appeared in the movie, in an interview talking about the importance of helping create awareness and recognition of the Armenian Genocide. "Screamers" debuted in theaters in large city markets such as New York City, Detroit, Washington D.C., San Francisco, Fresno, Providence, and Boston. An earlier engagement started exclusively in Los Angeles on December 8], 2006. Also, "Lonely Day" appeared on the soundtrack for the movie Disturbia. System of a Down was honored at the USC v. Cal game at the Los Angeles Coliseum in Los Angeles, CA in 2006. The Trojan Marching Band, along with Dolmayan and Odadjian, performed three System of a Down songs: "Toxicity", "Sugar", and "Hypnotize".

Tankian recently said that he has wanted to work on his "solo record for years". As for the future of the band, he said that he does not know whether System of a Down is over or not. He also stated that "maybe in a few years" the band would "want to make another album. It's impossible to tell right now. It'll be later down the line; then we'll be able to tell what might happen."

Bassist Shavo Odadjian was recently revealed to be directing the first video for the comeback of the hardcore punk band, Bad Brains.

For the 2007 Grammys, System of a Down was nominated for Best Hard Rock Performance for "Lonely Day", but lost to Wolfmother and their song "Woman".

Shavo Odadjian recently told Launch Radio Networks that System of a Down is "alive and well".

"We're just not working together right now. We kind of like split up at first, but you know, we're brothers, man, we'll take bullets for each other. So it's like, you kind of miss each other after a while and you, one guy makes the first move, then another starts making phone calls....this is a juggernaut, man. System of a Down is my lifeline. It'll never go away. We could not make a record for 10 years — that's not gonna happen, but I'm just saying we could — and we'll come back strong."

Reunion and Future (2011) Edit

When asked in February 2008 if a reunion was planned any time in the future, Daron Malakian had admitted that System of a Down may never get back together again. He had this to say:

"There's no talk of System doing anything. We're not planning on doing anything. If anyone's holding their breath for a new System record, they're going to turn blue and pass out. It's a long ways away, if it ever even happens. We don't even talk about it - none of us. This (Scars on Broadway) is my band right now.

In an April 2008 interview with Kerrang magazine, guitarist Daron Malakian and drummer John Dolmayan (who have recently formed a new band known as Scars on Broadway) gave their takes on the bands future. When told that "We'll all know when the time is right."

Dolmayan added: "It'll just happen."

Malakian went on to say: "Yeah. It'll feel good and happy. I can respect this situation [System's hiatus] more than I can respect the situation where two people are like, 'The lead singer fucked my girlfriend!' and that kind of bullshit. Nah, man. The lead singer is a special person to me and I am to him. And that's how we ended off. Same with Shavo, same with John. And it will always be. It was a big part of my life. We were onstage together for a long time, man. We went through shit as a band and friends -- we slept in RV's together!"

System of a Down has shown a keen interest in representing Armenia at the Eurovision Song Contest 2009 to be held in Russia next year. However, the soloist of the band, Serj Tankian, has openly stated in a recent visit in Finland that this will be under one condition: if they will be able to use Eurovision as a way to make the much-debated Armenian Genocide issue known. "ESC would be an excellent way to make this theme known. We must seriously think of this." On November 29, 2010 System of a Down announced a reunion tour in Europe in 2011.

Style and influences Edit

The stylistic variety and level of experimentation in System of a Down's music has made it difficult to describe. Though they have evolved their sound with each album, System of a Down has, for the most part, maintained a single style throughout their body of work. This style mixes elements and influences from a wide variety of genres such as alternative rock, punk rock, folk music, psychedelic rock, classic metal, symphonic metal, thrash metal, funk metal and progressive rock. Even some electronic influences can be heard in songs such as "Old School Hollywood". This has made them difficult to categorize, prompting the press to describe them with several different genre handles, among them alternative metal.

The band has used a wide range of instruments, including electric mandolins, baritone electric guitars, acoustic guitars, ouds, sitars and twelve string guitars.

Furthermore, a variety of keyboards and synthesizers have been used on live shows. Drop C tuning was used exclusively on the first three albums, with later records mostly relying on drop C# tuning. Their vocal style has also remained fairly consistent over the years. The band frequently used alternating vocals, switching between near screaming followed by a softer type of singing. Also, the same harmony and chord structures are frequently used in vocals in their songs, giving them a distinct sound.

The band has cited Middle Eastern music as one of its influences and mentioned on several accounts that they appreciate The Beatles and Kiss. On their own style, Odadjian said: "I don't think we sound like anybody else. I consider us System of a Down." and Dolmayan stated: "You can compare us to whoever you want. I don't care. Comparisons and labels have no effect on this band. Fact is fact: We are who we are and they are who they are."

Band membersEdit

Current membersEdit

Former membersEdit

Stage and Studio ExtrasEdit

  • Harry Perry – rhythm guitar (played rhythm guitar live on the Ozzfest 2006 Tour)
  • Abe Cunningham – drums (played drums during a live performance of "Science" live in Sacramento, CA October 1, 2005)
  • Charlie Benante – drums (played drums during a live performance of "Bounce" live at the Allstate Arena September 30, 2005)
  • Ben Weinman - guitar (played guitar during a live performance of "Aerials" live at Festimad in Madrid, Spain May 28, 2005
  • Kirk Hammett – guitar (played guitar during a live performance of "Aerials" live at the Hollywood Palladium November 15, 2003)
  • Arto Tunçboyacıyan – vocals, additional instruments (Toxicity and Steal This Album!)
  • Joey Jordison – drums (played drums live on October 31, 2001)
  • Rick Rubin – piano (Sugar E.P., System of a Down and Toxicity)
  • RZA (credited as Wu-Tang Clan) – vocals (Featured on "Shame" on the Loud Rocks Compilation and the Lonely Day EP)
  • Lynn Strait - vocals (Featured on a live performance of "War?" live at The Roxy Los Angeles, CA August 22, 1998)
  • Vanik Vartanian – drums (played drums during a live performance "Arto" live at The Roxy Los Angeles, CA August 22, 1998)

DiscographyEdit

Main article: System of a Down discography.

Studio albumsEdit

Date of Release Title Label U.S. Billboard peak RIAA Certification
June 30, 1998 System of a Down American #124 Platinum
September 4, 2001 Toxicity American #1 3× Platinum
November 26, 2002 Steal This Album! American/Columbia #15 Platinum
May 16, 2005 Mezmerize American/Columbia #1 Platinum
November 22, 2005 Hypnotize American/Columbia #1 Platinum
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