System Singer Visits Congressman’s Office To Push Genocide Bill

Band, meanwhile, is about to shoot a video for 'Hypnotize.'

Singer Serj Tankian had some personal business to attend to this week before System of a Down could shoot their next video. Personal and, well, global.

Before the band left for the second leg of its fall tour with the Mars Volta (see “System Of A Down/ Mars Volta Tour Dates Announced” ), Tankian promised his 97-year-old grandfather he would do his best to convince Congressman Dennis Hastert (R-Illinois) to bring the Armenian Genocide Resolution to a vote, an issue long close to System of a Down (see “System Of A Down Make The Political Personal At Souls 2005″ ). And he did just that Tuesday outside the Speaker of the House’s Batavia, Illinois, office.

Tankian joined members of the Armenian National Committee of America, the Armenian Youth Federation and his own Axis of Justice organization in a rally and then read a heartfelt letter he delivered to Hastert’s office in support of the pending legislation, which would officially recognize Turkey’s slaughter of 1.5 million Armenians between 1915 and 1923.

With the resolution, which overwhelmingly passed the bipartisan International Relations Committee, Hastert can either bring it to the House of Representatives for a vote or let it expire.

“It’s all in his hands, he’s the man,” Tankian said of Hastert, who spoke in support of recognizing the genocide on the House floor in 1994. “The thing is that a similar resolution was going around in 2000 as well and he was the speaker of the House then, but at the time [President Bill] Clinton had written a letter asking him not to bring it up to vote, citing concerns that had to do with Turkey. In 2004 he also had the opportunity to bring another resolution to vote on … and that didn’t happen either.

“I’m sure that there’s a lot of lobbying going on from the Bush administration, from the military-industrial complex that sells a lot of weapons to Turkey, and a whole host of corporate lobbyist firms that don’t want this thing to pass, but the truth has to come out, and more so in a democracy than anywhere else,” he continued. “So we’re fighting the good fight.”

Hastert was not at his office Tuesday and was unavailable for comment Wednesday (September 28).

As for that System video, for “Hypnotize,” bassist Shavo Odadjian is returning to the director’s chair for the shoot at Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids, Michigan, after having also lensed the band’s “Question!” (see “System Of A Down Find Answer To ‘Question!’ In A Dream” ).

“This will be our first live video per se,” Tankian said. “We’ve had videos where we’ve had fans and we played live, but it’s never been at a venue that we would actually play.”

Of course Odadjian always has something up his sleeve, and Tankian hinted that it has to do with a helicopter shot. “I’m like, “I’m like, ‘Hey, man, I’m cool with that as long as we’re not hanging from it,’ ” the singer joked.

“Hypnotize” is the first single from the second half of the double album Mezmerize/Hypnotize, due November 22.

“This track’s pretty mellow in comparison to let’s say a ‘B.Y.O.B.’ or something like that,” Tankian said. “But I’m glad we’re going out with this track. It’s a beautiful song.”

Tankian chose not to elaborate on the song, noting, “It means different things to different people, even within the band.” Guitarist Daron Malakian has said he wrote it while waiting in a car for his girlfriend (see “System Of A Down Kick Out The Jams On Hypnotize ).

As for the album, fans should expect something just slightly different from Mezmerize.

“It’s got the whole melodic thing still, but it’s little more progressive, a little more emotion here and there,” Tankian said. “But they both come from the same sessions.”

Before Hypnotize hits stores, Tankian will appear on the new album from Buckethead, Enter the Chicken. Along with lending his vocals, Tankian produced the album and will release it October 25 on his Serjical Strike Records.

“It’s a f—ing amazing record,” Tankian said. “It’s a really, really strong, dynamic rock record, really out there, with like 12 different singers. I just brought in a whole collection of friends to sing.”

Guests include Saul Williams, Efrem Schulz of Death by Stereo, Bad Acid Trip and Maura Davis of Denali.

“I think it will be a breakthrough because first of all, Buckethead mostly does instrumental stuff,” Tankian said. “And he’s never really done a lot of stuff with pop arrangements, I don’t mean pop like bubblegum pop, I mean like anything from progressive crazy stuff to regular beautiful songs. And this album is going to be like that. It’s got the whole dynamic range of everything Buckethead has ever done and it totally transpired by accident and just ended up working out.”

Tankian also remixed Notorious B.I.G.’s “Who Shot Ya” for the “Marc Ecko’s Getting Up: Contents Under Pressure” graffiti video game, due November 15. “I love the way it came out,” he said (see “P. Diddy Flips Out, RZA Promotes Graffiti In ‘Getting’ Game” ).

For more on System of a Down’s double album, Mezmerize/Hypnotize, check out the feature “Doubleheader.”