HOLLYWOOD — Finally System of a Down have revealed the real motivation for breaking up their double album, Mezmerize/Hypnotize, into individual releases, the latter of which hit stores Tuesday.
"It's like watching 'Kill Bill: [Volume] 1' and '2,' " guitarist, singer and mastermind behind the album, Daron Malakian, said during a recent interview at the Roosevelt Hotel. "That was like the big inspiration for us to separate it into two."
Well, if you're going to steal an idea from someone, who better than Quentin Tarantino? And just as sitting through the entire "Kill Bill" is a lot to ask even of fans, System felt their songs would initially be better served in smaller doses.
So now that fans have had six months to live with Mezmerize, here comes Hypnotize, the even more experimental half of the set (see "System Of A Down Album Preview: Hypnotize Even Wilder Than Mezmerize").
Like Mezmerize, and all of System's releases, Hypnotize fuses metal with world music and a touch of pop, but this time there's more humor, more sentiment and even the band's first true ballad.
"I write a lot of songs and some of 'em I never thought worked for System so I didn't take 'em to System, and that's one that I wasn't going to take into the band," Malakian said of the somber "Lonely Day." "I kind of [regretted] it."
"Yeah, we had to kind of get it out of him," bassist Shavo Odadjian continued. "He brought it and we loved it so much that he was like, 'I really don't want it on the record,' but ... it's something that needs to be heard."
Similar in sentiment but on an entirely different subject is "Holy Mountains," an ode to mountains that are geographically considered Turkish, but Armenians believe still belong to them.
"That's one of our national landmarks, like the Armenian soccer team is called Ararat," said Odadjian, who, like the other members of System, is of Armenian descent. "Imagine if the Grand Canyon was taken over by Mexico ... wait, let me take that back, bad analogy."
"Well we can see how America relates to this," Malakian added, laughing.
On the opposite end of the spectrum is "Vicinity of Obscenity," which features a chorus of "Banana, banana, banana, terra cotta pie" and "Do we all learn defeat/ From the whores with bad feet?"
"We're not four guys that sit around the table and talk about politics," Malakian explained. "Serj [Tankian, singer] and I both have a side to us that's serious and a side to us that's not serious and I think if we only wrote the serious parts then it wouldn't do justice to every side."
"That makes the politics and whatever the serious stuff [is] stand out more," Odadjian added. "It's just the yin and the yang."
Musically, Hypnotize also introduces some new elements, including rockabilly, blues and British rock.
"The influences are all across the board," Malakian said. "In 'Kill Rock 'n' Roll' the choruses came about at the moment I was listening to a lot of the Supremes, and if you listen to that part you can hear a melody and a harmony there that's not too far away from what the Supremes would probably be doing, but there's heavy guitars in the back."
System have yet to pick the follow-up single to "Hypnotize" but said it could come from either half of the double album.
"I think if you asked each person what they thought the next single should be they'd probably give you a different answer," Malakian said. "I'm pretty sure 'Lonely Day' [will eventually be a single] just 'cause so many people ask us about it and it is really straightforward, it's almost like made to be a single."
"I think we all want maybe 'Lost in Hollywood' to one day be a single," Odadjian added. "And we already have a video idea."
The band, as always, is taking the holidays off but plans to return to the road in early 2006. Malakian is also already writing songs for the next album.
"I don't try to top [the last album], I just try to get out of that mode," he said. "If I'm topping it, then I'm still focused on it.
"[Writing songs] all comes down to being a bunch of snapshots of life," he continued. "And if you're taking snapshots of life, chances are you're not only gonna see sad things, you're gonna see happy things, you're gonna see sexual things, you're gonna see crazy things, normal things, people walking their dogs, people doing people things. People tend to gravitate sometimes to the darker side of [life], but there's a lot of sometimes not-so-dark sides to it."
For more on System of a Down's double album, Mezmerize/Hypnotize, check out the feature "Doubleheader."