AUBURN, Washington — System of a Down's loyal fans know by now that when the band's mainstage stint on this summer's Ozzfest winds down August 13 in West Palm Beach, Florida, the boys will be going on an indefinite hiatus, affording the heavy-metal quartet's members time to focus on several side interests. System are hoping the "very long break" will recharge their creative batteries, thus strengthening the group's impending studio efforts.
The band insists that going on hiatus doesn't mean the demise of System, despite persistent rumors suggesting the end is nigh (see "System Of A Down Aren't Breaking Up — They're Going On Hiatus"). The group even contacted MTV News to make that point crystal clear following a recent Ozzfest stop after guitarist Daron Malakian improvised the lyrics, "Such a lonely day, hanging out with the band/ This mother----er I can't stand," during a performance of "Lonely Day." Malakian and frontman Serj Tankian explained in an e-mail, "The only thing that makes a lonely day livable on tour is each other's company. [The lyric was] referring to the day ... Not each other."
So what, then, does the future hold for System's various parts post-Ozzfest? Well, for Malakian and bassist Shavo Odadjian, it's Scars on Broadway, a fresh collective that's still very much in progress but should start working on material this fall.
Well, for guitarist Daron Malakian and bassist Shavo Odadjian, it's Scars on Broadway, a fresh collective that's still very much in progress but should start working on material this fall.
"It's going to be another band that both me and Shavo are in, and we're going to try and go places we haven't with System," Malakian explained. "Each [System] bandmember has his own thing he wants to do. Shavo has films he plans on working on too. So we all have artistic itches we want to get through, and I think these are healthy ways to do it. We've been around for 12 years, so it's nice for us to break a little free and come back and hopefully appreciate [being in System] more someday. We're not putting any timelines on it.
"[Scars] are going to go into a lot of different fields that System haven't gone into," he continued. "I mean, heavy metal is an influence, but it's not the focus of System of a Down. There will be metal elements in Scars, but that's not what's going to define the music."
For Odadjian, the System vacation means returning to the studio with his good pal RZA, the mastermind behind Wu-Tang Clan. "We've been messing around in the studio, and I worked on a track that will be on the next Raekwon record, [Only Built 4 Cuban Linx 2,]" he said. "With RZA, we have become good friends, and we're in the studio together all the time. There's a collaboration with the GZA which will be coming out soon, but we're not sure when. We've been working on it the last four months and will start preproduction in Los Angeles [in the fall]" (see "System Of A Tang? Shavo Collaborates With RZA, GZA").
The GZA/ RZA/ Shavo collaboration's been named, but Odadjian isn't giving up the goods yet. He'd like to wait until "we've got a few things on tape" before unveiling the project's moniker.
Dolmayan plans to take his obsession with comic books online with a new Web site, TorpedoComics.com. Not only will he be selling comic books, action figures and movies via the site, he'd like to host creative seminars with some of the writers and illustrators he's loved since his childhood, as well as some of today's leading artists.
"I am a big comic-book fan and always have been," he said. "It's sort of my second passion, next to drumming. So when I discovered we were going to be taking some time off, I thought, 'What would be better [for me] to do than form this company?' I just thought it would be fun."
This summer, fans may notice that Dolmayan is hammering away on a new drum kit, which took him three years to assemble. The drummer enlisted 22 of his favorite comic-book artists — including Jim Lee, Bill Sienkiewicz, Simon Bisley, Kevin Eastman and Neal Adams — to contribute illustrations that he then had coated onto the kit's various pieces. "A lot of the artists were fans of the band, or their kids were, and everybody involved I'm a big fan of," he said.
Like Malakian and Odadjian, System's soft-spoken, Afro-sporting frontman Tankian will be working on his own music this fall too. (He'll also be working with Fair to Midland and Slow Motion Reign, the newest additions to the roster of his label, Serjical Strike.) Tankian plans to release his solo debut in late 2007.
"I've been writing it my whole life," he said. "I'm really excited about it, and I have the same energy that I had when we were recording our first record. I have more than enough songs, but I'm also trying other methods of arrangements and tricking myself into doing things that I've never done to add to the dynamics, diversity and hopefully potency of the record itself."
Tankian said the record is an all-engrossing experience for him, as he's arranging all the musical elements to each of the songs. "I'm writing the drum parts, the guitars, the bass, the pianos, the strings, the vocals — everything from scratch," he said. "I will be bringing different friends in to do live stuff; I'd love to work with John on a few tracks. But I am literally writing every part, so I know exactly what I want out of the songs. It's taking up the majority of my time. It's still rock, but it definitely takes different directions, different vibes and different types of melodies and rhythms that System haven't touched upon."
And what say ye, Serj, of System's impending hiatus?
"System of a Down are always there for us, whenever we want to be there for System of a Down," he said.