Outspoken System of a Down drummer, John Dolmayan, recently sat down with Sona Oganesyan for a lengthy chat about his life and the status of the band. The band of course has been largely inactive since their last full length album in 2005. There have been some promising bursts of activity with a 2-song charity drop back in 2020 and some one-off tour dates.
However, Dolmayan has been itching to do much more. Back in 2020 he vented that the band should never have slowed down and, despite their massive popularity, is wasting their full potential:
“I never wanted System to take a hiatus. I think it was a disastrous move for us because we never reached our peak. I still feel like we have a lot of music in us, and as big as the band is – we’re a massive draw internationally and here in the U.S. – I think we could have been the biggest band in the world. Why not achieve that if you have the potential. So I feel like – yes, System is a great band, we have a great live show and I’m very proud of what we have achieved, but we got to here [points to a spot]. and we could have gotten to here [points to another spot further away]. It doesn’t mean we still can’t, but it’s unlikely because if you can’t put your ego aside… You’ve gotta take that cloak off, your ego, and put it here, and get in a room and work together, and do what’s best for the band.”
In the chat with Sona Oganesyan this week (Devil horns to Blabbermouth for transcribing), Dolmayan delved in to what’s holding back a new System of a Down album in the year 2022. It sounds like there is still a fair amount of tension related to creative control and members feeling the need to fully own parts of the song creation vs. allowing for a more collaborative experience:
“Yeah, if my band members listened to me and put everything to the side and just said, ‘Okay, let’s just go in and make the best album we can make and not care about where the music comes from or who wrote the lyrics or what this person did in the past.’ I’m willing to put all that aside. I’m not in a band that’ll do that, unfortunately.
Dolmayan went on to say:
“I’m a sensitive person, so I can’t just hold this stuff in; it has to come out one way or the other. And it takes me a long time to deal with it and to cope with it, because I also am realistic in that life is finite; you only have a certain amount of time. And here we are. We have this gift that came from God or wherever, and we’re squandering it. It’s an insult to everybody else that tries to make it in whatever endeavor they’re trying to make. And here we are — we’ve made it, we have the talent, we have the ability, we have an adoring fanbase, we’ve sold, I don’t know, whatever it is — 30 million albums or more — and they’re hungry for it, and we just don’t do it. That’s like the worst — having the ability to do something and not doing it is, I think, the worst thing in the world as far as in the perspective of being an artist. You’re just hurting yourself.”
He also explained how 2020’s 2-song charity release was a double edged sword for him personally:
“Well, there’s positives and negatives of it, because the road of getting somewhere is also important; how you achieve something is part of the process. So that wasn’t the greatest for me. But at the end of the day, because it wasn’t for me… I’ll never make a dollar off those songs. I’ve given my lifetime publishing for those songs, any royalties, it all goes to Armenian causes. So it was never about the financials for me. So in that way, it was incredibly successful for me personally. And although it was nice to have something come out, that also reminds you of the potential, ’cause, obviously, we still have something to give to the world. And when you put something out that actually makes an impact, you’re, like, ‘Why aren’t we doing this all the time?’ And then I go down the rabbit hole of frustration and anger.”
It feels like a new System of a Down album will happen at some point… the question is simply how long it’ll take to come to fruition.
In the meantime, check out out other recent System of a Down stories: