System of a Down are not breaking up. But if you'd like to catch them live, you may want to consider buying an Ozzfest ticket.
There have been plenty of rumors suggesting that the band's headlining stint on this summer's Ozzfest would be the last time frontman Serj Tankian, guitarist Daron Malakian, bassist Shavo Odadjian and drummer John Dolmayan would be appearing onstage together under the System banner. But Malakian said that's just not true.
"I'll always be a member of System of a Down," he said. "That will never change. There's no rule that says you have to make records constantly, like clockwork, to continue being who you are. We want to live our lives, [because being in a band] really consumes a big part of your life, and sometimes you just want to stop and slow down. We started being just these guys in a band, and the next thing you know, everyone's asking for autographs. It plays with your head."
So, Malakian said, after this summer's Ozzfest — which will kick off in Seattle on June 29 and wrap up August 13 in West Palm Beach, Florida (see "System Of A Down, Disturbed To Headline Ozzfest") — System of a Down will go on "hiatus."
"We're not breaking up," Malakian insisted. "If that was the case, we wouldn't be doing this Ozzfest, because we're a little nervous" about trying to fill Ozzy Osbourne's shoes. Ozzy will be headlining just 10 of this year's Ozzfest dates, with System topping the bill on Ozzy's off days. "We're going to take a very long break after Ozzfest and do our own things," he added. "We've done System for over 10 years, and I think it's healthy for us to get away from it for a while and come back to it later on. So, this is probably going to be ... well, it's not a farewell tour, but it's going to be a little while before we go out again."
Malakian said he couldn't guess just how long System's hiatus will be, other than to say a few years. System of a Down have generally held recording sessions every three years since their self-titled debut in 1998, although the release of the material has been staggered: 2001's Toxicity was followed in 2002 by the outtakes collection Steal This Album!, and in 2005 the band issued the two halves of its double album, Hypnotize/ Mezmerize, five months apart. This fall, Malakian said he'll start work on his next project, Scars on Broadway, a band he's still assembling. He's also in talks to score a feature film, but hasn't inked a deal just yet.
And the rest of the band has other interests, too. Tankian runs his own record label, Serjical Strike, and Odadjian has been talking with members of the Wu-Tang Clan about working together on a project (see "System Of A Tang? Shavo Collaborates With RZA, GZA").
"I have a few things lined up that I want to do," Malakian explained. "For me, personally, I've written all the System records from day one, so it's kind of healthy for me to go off and do a few other things and then come back to it, as it is for the rest of the band. Some people would call it a breakup, but we don't really call it that. You know, even U2 took a little time off, and then they came back with a new sound. We're not trying to follow anyone — that's just an example of a band that kind of took a little break and then came back.
"People get very focused on the band and away from the art," he continued. "The art, in my opinion, is the most important part of the whole thing — whether it's called System of a Down or Scars on Broadway or whatever. It's the songs and the art that's the most important thing, and for me, creatively, I kind of want to go somewhere else at the moment. We're not making any plans. For 10 years, it's been make a record, plan on making the next record, plan on the next tour, plan on this, plan on that. There have always been plans around System. Our lives have been planned around System. We want to go live our lives a bit. We feel this is healthy for the longevity of System."