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System of a Down Bassist on New Music: “Why It Isn’t Happening is a Big Question”

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System of a Down bassist Shavo Odadjian really, really, really wants the band to write and record new music, and he hasn’t been shy about saying so lately in the press. He’s been pretty clear, as have the other members, that Serj Tankian’s “creative differences” are what’s holding things up, and at one point even went so far as to suggest hiring a band psychologist to help them all iron things out. I feel bad for the guy, really; while Daron Malakian and John Dolmayan have kept somewhat busy musically, Shavo seemingly has the least to offer other potential employers. He wants this, he needs it! And he deserves it.

In a new chat with Eddie Trunk, Shavo voiced his continued frustration with the lack of new System music, saying that the guys get along just fine when they’re on the road and even in the jam room with Daron and John, but when it comes to new music the buck stops with Serj.

Here’s how the chat went down:

What is the status of the band now? Would it be safe to say that there’s a level of dysfunction? Would you say that’s accurate?

“It could be accurate. I mean, we haven’t made a record for 12 years. We do play live still, we do tour; not as often as I would like to, but I am blessed for being able to still do it. When we’re put together, the four of us, we’re not hating on each other. We hang out, we have a good time. It’s just – we haven’t made music together, which is kind of frustrating; I’ll be honest, ’cause I know we can make the bomb music together.”

Are there fragments of songs?

“Yeah, there are.”

How far did you get? Rough demos, recordings…?

“No recordings. Two years ago, we got together, the three of us…”

The three of us,’ minus Serj [Tankian, vocals]?’

“Well, minus Serj because, at the time, he was doing a lot of solo stuff and we were, like, ‘Dude, we don’t wanna wait around. Let’s just get in there and see what we can do.’ And we got in and wrote, like, about 10 or 11 songs. Daron brought, like, seven or eight songs; I brought four or five ideas in that became songs. Minus Serj’s vocals, of course. It was really good. It came out really great. And I hope to one day go back to those and use some of Serj’s stuff. I know Serj’s got some stuff.

“In my world, man, why it isn’t happening is a big question. I think we can get over anything ’cause it’s not like someone’s done anything so horrible that we can’t get over it – ain’t nothing like that. It’s just creative differences that are lasting a little too long for me, for my taste. It’s been so long. I don’t even remember why we’re not going in there at this point, you know what I mean?”

The thing that’s hard for fans is to understand how a band can get together and play live, but can’t still make a record, or make a song…

“I’m one of those fans. [Laughs] I swear to god, dude. [Laughs] I really would love to have done it. I mean, like I said: if it was up to me, we would have never stopped. We would have been on our probably ninth or 10th record now.”

I’ll say this about Shavo: at least he doesn’t come off as bitter, deliberately expressing the gratitude for all that he does have (likely a pretty decent living from the handful of live dates the band plays every year). Just frustrated. And I get that. We’re all hoping for new System music too, dude… hang in there!

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