IRVINE, California System of a Down are complying with the system of supply and demand.
After unmixed Toxicity outtakes were leaked online last month (see "System Of A Down Frazzled Over Leaked Outtakes"), System of a Down realized the demand for their unreleased music and are preparing to properly supply it.
"We are gonna release some of them, mixed the way we would actually put them on an album," bassist Shavo Odadjian said backstage at Saturday's KROQ Weenie Roast (see "System, Papa Roach Rage On Weenie Roast Stage While Jack Osbourne Holds Court"). "But we're gonna do it in a way where we put some of those, some soundtrack songs that haven't been [widely] released, [etc.]"
The upcoming album, which does not yet have a title or release date, may also feature "Shame," System of a Down's collaboration with the Wu-Tang Clan for 2000's Loud Rocks compilation, according to drummer John Dolmayan, who hesitated to call it a "rarities" collection, because "we're gonna do something original with it."
Either way, the collection is noteworthy in that it wouldn't be in the works if the material had not been leaked.
System of a Down's initial statement condemned fans for downloading "anything less than the best possible recordings," though Dolmayan backed off a bit Saturday.
"It's all good," he said. "Fans want new music. We're the same way. We have bands that we like, and whether they release it or not, we're interested in hearing new material from them. It's not a really good representation from the band, though, but if fans like it, more power to you."
Part of the reason System's outtakes have created such a buzz is because there are so many. Sixteen tracks have surfaced from the Toxicity sessions, enough for another album.
"We recorded 33 songs because we had that many songs that we wanted to choose from," Odadjian explained. "We're a band that keeps writing and recording we don't know when it's over. They have to sorta pull us out of the studio."
The band also likes to have leftover material that it can revisit on a follow-up album. For example, an early version of Toxicity's "X" was originally recorded for System of a Down's 1998 self-titled debut.
"It takes a while sometimes for something to come to fruition, but it's always worth the wait," Dolmayan said. "And we hope that our fans enjoy whatever we put out. Actually, we don't care if you enjoy it or not, we're doing it for us. But if you enjoy it, that's a plus."
With Toxicity, enjoying it hasn't been a problem. The wildly eclectic and socially charged album has yielded three hit singles: "Chop Suey!," the title track and the new "Aerials," a mellow number with the haunting chorus "Aerials, so up high/ When you free your eyes, eternal prize."
"When it came in, I was like, 'Wow, this is different. This is not like the other songs on the album,' " Odadjian said.
As he did for "Toxicity," Odadjian directed the video for the tune with the help of another director, this time David Slade (P.O.D., Stone Temple Pilots).
"When [guitarist] Daron [Malakian] wrote the song a year and a half ago, he brought in the idea of some child that wasn't normal looking, just a weird-looking child, looking at trapeze artists," Odadjian said. "So when I came up with the concept of the video, I just wrote around his concept of that child and I designed this face ... and it came out the way I saw it."
"I think people are gonna trip out on the video," Dolmayan added. "You notice things every time you watch it. It's like something different comes out, kind of like watching 'A Clockwork Orange' or something. The first few times you watch it you don't really understand what's happening. And the more you watch it, the more you get out of it."
Although System are certainly stoked about "Aerials," they didn't intend to release it until their label suggested it. Instead, they were going to stop after two singles, as they did on their debut. Odadjian said the band is wary of looking like it's trying to sell its album.
"We never formed to be where we are; we formed to write music and do what we do," Odadjian said. "I'm sick of our band, I swear. I see it everywhere. I'm tired of it."
Whether the band likes it or not, more people than ever will be seeing System of a Down this summer. Not only are they headlining Ozzfest with the host himself, they are playing several shows on off nights (see "System Of A Down, P.O.D. To Keep Rocking While Ozzy Sleeps").
This year marks the third Ozzfest for the Southern California foursome, who first played on the second stage and then opened the main stage. "This is the last level, and it's in our hearts to do it," Odadjian said. "And we've been there so many times we sort of know what it's about, how it runs."
"It's just so much fun," Dolmayan added. "If you ever went to summer camp when you were a kid, it's that vibe, with 25-to-30-year-olds acting like they did when they were five or six, but worse, 'cause now alcohol is involved."