System of a Down: Wikis


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System of a Down

System of a Down at Download Festival in 2005.
Background information
Origin Glendale, California, U.S.
Genres Alternative metal, progressive rock, hard rock, experimental,Nu Metal
Years active 1994–2006 (hiatus)
Labels Sony Music Entertainment, American, Columbia
Associated acts Achozen, Axis of Justice, Scars on Broadway, Serj Tankian and The F.C.C.
Daron Malakian
Serj Tankian
Shavo Odadjian
John Dolmayan
Former members
Ontronik "Andy" Khachaturian

System of a Down (also known by the acronym SOAD, or SoaD, and often shortened as System) is an Armenian-American rock band from Glendale, California, formed in 1994. It consists of Serj Tankian (lead vocals, keyboards), Daron Malakian (vocals, lead guitar), Shavo Odadjian (bass, background vocals) and John Dolmayan (drums). All four members are of Armenian descent, and are widely known for their outspoken views expressed in many of their songs confronting the Armenian Genocide of 1915 by the Ottoman Empire and the ongoing War on Terror by the US government.

The band has achieved commercial success with the release of five studio albums. System of a Down has been nominated for four Grammy Awards, and won the award in 2006 for Best Hard Rock Performance. On August 13, 2006, the group went on indefinite hiatus.



Soil (1992–1994)

The roots of System of a Down lie in the band Soil (not to be confused with the Chicago-based 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 (Local Hawaii Drummer) 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.


After Soil split up, Serj and Daron formed a new band, System of a Down, based on a poem that Daron wrote, “Victims of the Down”[citation needed], but Shavo Odadjian, who was originally the band’s manager and promoter[citation needed], didn’t like the word and thought the word “System” sounded better.[citation needed] Ever since Shavo joined as bassist, managerial duties have been undertaken by the Velvet Hammer Music and Management Group and founder David “Beno” Benveniste.[citation needed] 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 songs called “Flake”, “Toast” and an early recording of “The Metro”, a cover of the Berlin song of the same name. 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 Demo Tape 1, which had early versions of “Sugar”, “Suite-Pee”, and “P.L.U.C.K.”, as well as “Dam.” Demo Tape 2 was released in 1996 and had a rough demo of the song “Soil” as well as the most known unreleased tracks such as “Honey” and “Temper.” At the beginning of 1997, SOAD recorded their final publicly-released demo tape, Demo Tape 3, which had rough versions of “Peephole”, “War?”, and “Know.” In mid 1997, Ontronik Khachaturian left the band due to a hand injury(he subsequently co-founded The Apex Theory, which included former Soil bassist Dave Hakopyan). Soon after playing at the Whisky-A-Go-Go and Viper Room with new drummer John Dolmayan, the band caught producer Rick Rubin's attention and he told them to keep in touch with him. Showing great interest, they recorded Demo Tape 4 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, the group won the Best Signed Band award from the Rock City Awards.[1] Prior to 1998, SOAD’s live shows were called “The Dark Red Experience”. Many of the songs featured on the demos would eventually make their way onto the band's debut album.[citation needed]

Debut album (1998–2000)

In the summer of 1998 (June 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, the band toured extensively, opening for Slayer and Metallica 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. In 2000, the band contributed their cover of the Black Sabbath song "Snowblind" to the Black Sabbath tribute album Nativity in Black 2.

Toxicity and Steal This Album! (2001–2003)

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.[citation needed] The album has since sold over 12 million copies worldwide.[citation needed] 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 and Mexico. 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 and Hypnotize (2004–2006)

From 2004 to 2005, the group produced a double album, 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.[2] In February 2006, System of a Down 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.

System of a Down's songs were used in the 2006 film Screamers, directed 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 2006 movie Disturbia.

System of a Down was honored at the USC v. Cal game at the Los Angeles Coliseum in Los Angeles, California in 2006. The Trojan Marching Band, along with Dolmayan and Odadjian, performed three System of a Down songs: "Toxicity", "Sugar", and "Hypnotize". System of a Down's song "Lonely Day" was nominated for Best Hard Rock Performance in the 49th Grammy Awards in 2007, but lost to "Woman" by Wolfmother.

Hiatus, Semi-Reunions, and future of the band (2006–present)

In May 2006, the band announced they were going on hiatus. Malakian has confirmed the break will probably last a few years, which Odadjian specified as a minimum of three years in an interview with Guitar magazine. 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."[3]

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 was joined by Dolmayan. Their debut self-titled album was released on July 29, 2008. 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. "Empty Walls" is his first single off his debut solo album Elect the Dead, which was released on October 23, 2007. Dolmayan, as well working with Scars on Broadway, planned to open a comic book store online by November 2007.[4]

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."[5]

Shavo Odadjian told Launch Radio Networks in 2007 that System of a Down is "alive and well", but just aren't working together.[6]

In an April 2008 interview with Kerrang magazine, guitarist Daron Malakian and drummer John Dolmayan gave their takes on the band's future. When told that many people are going to wonder what the future of the band is, Malakian responded by stating 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!

In an interview with Tankian about Big Day Out 2009, a show involving playing his Elect the Dead album live with the Auckland Philharmonic Orchestra, and his upcoming second studio album. "Every few months I am honored to hear interesting rumors about whether the band is going to tour or break up permanently. I find them all to be very entertaining."

On October 31, 2009, Shavo threw a Halloween party at the Roxy in which three of the members (Shavo, Daron, and John) played three songs including "Suite-Pee" (off System of a Down), Scars on Broadway's "They Say", and an unknown song. Franky Perez from Scars on Broadway joined them for these songs.[7]

On November 20, 2009, at the Avalon in Hollywood, Daron, John, and Shavo joined the Deftones on stage at the show benefiting bassist Chi Cheng and played hits "Aerials" and "Toxicity".

On January 11, 2010, bassist Shavo posted on his official twitter account "Are you guys ready for System?". Two days after that, in a response to Billboard, however, Serj stated that System of a Down is still on an indefinite hiatus while adding "We always have offers to play, from festivals and stuff, but we have not decided to do anything as of yet".[8]

Style and influences

The stylistic variety and level of experimentation[9] 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 has variously been termed alternative metal,[10] alternative rock,[11] art rock,[12][13] experimental rock,[14][15] hard rock,[10][16] heavy metal,[10] nu metal,[17][18] progressive metal[19][20] and progressive rock.[21][22] Malakian has stated that "We don't belong to any one scene"[23] and that "I don't like the nu-metal drop-A 7-string guitar sound; it is not my thing, at least not yet".[24] According to Tankian, "As far as arrangement and everything, [our music] is pretty much pop. To me, System of a Down isn't a progressive band. [...] But it's not a typical pop project, obviously. We definitely pay attention to the music to make sure that it's not something someone's heard before."[25]

The band has used a wide range of instruments, including electric mandolins, baritone electric guitars, acoustic guitars, ouds, sitars and twelve string guitars.[26] According to Malakian, he would often write songs in E♭ tuning, which would later be changed to drop C tuning in order to be performed by the band.[24] Malakian states that "For me, the drop-C tuning is right down the center. It has enough of the clarity and the crisp sound—most of our riffy stuff is done on the top two strings, anyway—but it's also thicker and ballsier."[24]

The band's influences include Middle Eastern music,[27] The Beatles,[23][27] Dead Kennedys,[28] Frank Zappa,[29] Slayer[27] and Van Halen.[28] The band's musical style has often been compared to that of Zappa.[21][30] Malakian has stated that "I'm a fan of music. I'm not necessarily a fan of any one band."[31] Dolmayan stated "I dont think we sound like anybody else. I consider us System of a Down."[32] Odadjian 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."[32]

Awards and Nominations

System of a Down has been nominated for four Grammy Awards, of which has won one in 2006 for Best Hard Rock Performance for the song B.Y.O.B.. The band has also been nominated for several Kerrang! and MTV awards.

Grammy Awards
Year Nominated work Award Result
2002 "Chop Suey!" Best Metal Performance Nominated
2003 "Aerials" Best Hard Rock Performance Nominated
2006 "B.Y.O.B." Best Hard Rock Performance Won
2007 "Lonely Day" Best Hard Rock Performance Nominated


  • In 2005, System of a Down won for Best Alternative Act in the Europe Music Awards
  • In 2006, System of a Down won the "MTV Good Woodie Award" for their song "Question!"
  • In 2006, System of a Down's song "Toxicity" was #14 on the VH1 Top 40 Metal Songs list

Band members

Current members
Former members
Touring musicians



  1. ^ "Rock City Awards 1997". Retrieved 2007-07-25. 
  2. ^ Harris, Chris (November 30, 2005). "System of a Down Make It a Double with Chart-Topping Hypnotize". MTV News (MTV Networks). Retrieved February 18, 2009. 
  3. ^ Harris, Chris (May 3, 2006). "System of a Down Aren't Breaking Up—They're Going on Hiatus". MTV News (MTV Networks). Retrieved February 2, 2009. 
  4. ^ "SOAD talk about side projects". 2006-07-13. Retrieved 2007-07-25. 
  5. ^ "West Palm Beach, FL — August 13, 2006 Review". 2006-07-13. Retrieved 2007-07-25. 
  6. ^ "System of a Down Is 'Alive and Well'". Ultimate Guitar Archive. 2007-07-20. Retrieved 2007-07-25. 
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^ Nettleton, Chris. "Review of System of a Down". Drowned in Sound. Retrieved 2007-07-25. 
  10. ^ a b c Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Biography of System of a Down". Allmusic. Retrieved 2007-07-24. 
  11. ^ Spence D. (June 3, 2005). "Review of Mesmerize". IGN. Retrieved 2009-04-22. 
  12. ^ Christgau, Robert. "Reviews of System of a Down". Retrieved 2009-04-02. 
  13. ^ Hoard, Christian (November 1, 2007). "Review of Elect the Dead". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2009-04-22. 
  14. ^ Aquilante, Dan (November 20, 2005). "This Week's CDs: Hypnotize". New York Post. Retrieved March 3, 2009. 
  15. ^ Friedman, Gary (October 27, 2007). "System of a Down leader releases first solo album". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved March 3, 2009. 
  16. ^ "Review of Hypnotize". Rolling Stone. November 17, 2005. Retrieved 2009-04-22. 
  17. ^ Berelian, Essi. The Rough Guide to Heavy Metal. p. 349. ISBN 1843534150. 
  18. ^ Christe, Ian (2004). The Sound of the Beast. Allison and Bubsy. p. 329. ISBN 0749083514. 
  19. ^ McDonnell, Evelyn (August 16, 2005). "System of a Down carves a distinct path with prog-thrash sound.". The Miami Herald. Retrieved March 3, 2009. 
  20. ^ Serpick, Evan (December 15, 2005). "System of a Down — Prog-metal Radicals". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2007-07-24. 
  21. ^ a b Sinclair, Tom (September 3, 2001). "Review of Toxicity". Entertainment Weekly.,,173181,00.html. Retrieved 2009-04-02. 
  22. ^ Lynskey, Dorian (November 18, 2005). "Review of Hypnotize". The Guardian. Retrieved 2009-04-02. 
  23. ^ a b Morse, Steve (August 26, 2005). "Pounding out a blistering attack: System of a Down lashes out at Hollywood, war, and hypocrisy". The Boston Globe. Retrieved April 5, 2009. 
  24. ^ a b c Perry, Megan (2004). "Daron's Guitar Tunings". Wired: musicians' home studios : tools & techniques of the musical mavericks. Hal Leonard Corporation. p. 79. ISBN 0879307943. 
  25. ^ DeRogatis, Jim (September 14, 2001). "They're an Armenian band". The Chicago Tribune. Retrieved April 4, 2009. 
  26. ^ "System of a Down biography". Retrieved 2006-06-26. 
  27. ^ a b c Nalbandian, Bob. "Interview with System of a Down". Shockwaves Online. Retrieved 2007-07-21. 
  28. ^ a b Candellari, Gianni. "System of a Down: Rabbia armena" (in Italian). Ondarock. 
  29. ^ Prato, Greg (July 7, 2005), Zappas Making Zappa Film, Rolling Stone, . Retrieved on November 13, 2008
  30. ^ Strauss, Neil (May 19, 2005). "Big Top Metal". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2009-04-02. 
  31. ^ "Many musical influences in System of a Down". Long Beach Press-Telegram. August 3, 2005. Retrieved April 5, 2009. 
  32. ^ a b ""Official System of a Down MySpace". Retrieved 2007-07-21. 

External links

Simple English

System of a Down
File:System of a Down, Download Festival 2005 (1).JPG
System of a Down performing
Background information
Origin Los Angeles, USA
Genres Alternative metal, progressive metal, heavy metal, hard rock
Years active 1995 - 2006
Serj Tankian
Daron Malakian
Shava Odadjian
John Dolmayan
Former members
Andy Khachaturian

System of a Down is an American metal band. They started in 1995 in Los Angeles, California by four members of Armenian descent, Serj Tankian (lead singer, born August 21, 1967), Daron Malakian (lead guitar, singer, born July 18, 1975), Shavo Odadjian (bass, background singer, born April 22, 1974) and Andy Khachaturian (but was replaced with John Dolmayan). He played the drums.

The band have five albums:

  • System of a Down (1998)
  • Toxicity (2001)
  • Steal This Album! (2002)
  • Mezmerize (2005)
  • Hypnotize (2005).

The band became successful with popular songs like "Sugar", "Spiders", "Chop Suey!", "Toxicity", "Aerials", "B.Y.O.B.", "Question!", "Hypnotize", and "Lonely Day".

After the release of Mezmerize/Hypnotize, System of a Down went on a break, but they say they have not broken up.

Often described as very angry, Khachaturian was unhappy about his place as drummer, and wanted to lead the band. He left the band and the drummer from the band, "Friik", John Dolmayan, joined the the band.


Early days

Serj, Daron, and Shavo, went to the same school, Alex Pilibos School for Armenian Americans in Los Angeles, when they were young.

In 1995, they made their first demo tape, and had the songs: "Suite-Pee", "Sugar", "Dam", and "P.L.U.C.K.(Politically Lying Unholy Cowardly Killers)". In 1996, another demo tape was released with the songs: Soil, and two songs that were not on the first album, "Honey" and "Temper". They made another demo tape, and this was the one that got them put on the record label. The producer, Rick Rubin, had tried to sign up the band several times before they agreed. Serj now tours on his own, under his own name, with his own band.

First album

In 1997, SOAD teamed up with Rubin and produced their first studio album in 1997, System of a Down. This album was not as popular as the next album, but it made people aware of who and what System of a Down stood for.

Their next album, Toxicity, made in 2001, had their first UK top 20 single "Chop Suey". This album explores a more melodic side of metal music. It is also political; for example the opening track: "Prison Song" which has Serj speaking the lines "Minor drug offenders fill your prisons you don't even flinch/All our taxes paying for your wars against the new non rich".

2003's album was made up of songs recorded for Toxicity but not used because they did not fit the "mood" of the album. These songs included "Innervision" and "Boom!".

Double album

In May 2005, the band released part one of a double album, Mezmerize. More melodic than before, it included "B.Y.O.B" (Bring Your Own Bombs), and "Lost in Hollywood"; a song based on Daron's childhood about growing up in Hollywood, which he did not think was all that glamorous.

Months later, the second part of the double album, Hypnotize, was released. This was the same sort of style as they were recorded at the same time.

Taking a break

In 2006, the band decided that they were going to go on break for a little while. They said they were going to come back together in a few years. After 10 years together, they each wanted to do different things for a while. Theyve been rumors of them returning in 2011. In July 2010 Dolmayan said in an interview that the band will most likely tour in 2011.[1]


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