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System of a Down’s Serj Tankian: “I Love and Respect John Dolmayan Very Much, but I Don’t Love and Respect His American Political Views”

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One of the most distressing revelations of the past year has been that System of a Down member John Dolmayan is a card carrying member of the Conservative Whack-a-Doo Club.

In case you somehow missed it: since just last summer, Dolmayan has called inveterate racist Donald Trump “the greatest friend to minorities,” disseminated coronavirus conspiracy theories, argued that there is no systemic racism in the United States, asserted that “the Black Lives Matter movement could care less about black people” and is “a Democratic fundraising tool of a communist organization,” decried the defund the police movement as “the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard,” defended Gina Carano after she was fired from The Mandalorian for comparing modern conservatives to Jews in the Holocaust (to say nothing of her making fun of the transgender community and also questioning the legitimacy of the coronavirus), questioned the legitimacy of Biden’s presidency, and compared liberals to Joseph McCarthy. If tomorrow it turns out he believes that Kamala Harris is training brainwashed kittens to assassinate Republicans out of the meat locker in the back of an Arby’s, nobody should be shocked.

What do the other members of SOAD make of Dolmayan’s noxious political views? Guitarist Daron Malakian and bassist Shavo Odadjian have remained mum this far, but vocalist Serj Tankian — who just so happens to also be Dolmayan’s brother-in-law — has been fairly vocal about disagreeing with the drummer: he has admitted that “it’s frustrating being politically opposite to your own drummer and brother-in-law,” but also said that he “loves and respects” Dolmayan “irrespective of our extremely polarized political commentary and differences.” At the same time, he took a not-so-thinly veiled swipe at Dolmayan when he said of System’s song “Temper,” “if you love this song or play along to it and love Trump, you’re a hypocrite.”

(Tankian also said of Trump that he has “Never seen a president suck so much cock,” which is clearly at odds with Dolmayan’s own beliefs.)

Tankian has now further elaborated on his political differences with Dolmayan, while continuing to emphasize that he feels no ill-will towards his bandmate and family member.

From a new interview with Consequence of Sound:

“We’re very good friends, we’re family, and he’s my drummer in my band, so of course we’ve talked about many, many different things, including political views. When you don’t agree with someone after a while about a certain topic … look, it doesn’t mean that we don’t agree about other stuff. We agree a lot about Armenian stuff, for example, a lot about family stuff, a lot of other things, a lot of personal stuff. But when it comes to American politics, we happen to be on the polar opposite ends of it, and we’re both very passionate and vehement about our views, which is fine.”

Tankian continues:

“I love and respect John very much, but I don’t love and respect his American political views. And that’s fine. And I can live with that and he can live with that because we respect and care for each other. And it’s really just that. Have we talked about it? Yeah. But do we talk about it often? No, because there comes a point where when you don’t see eye to eye on something, you’d just rather talk about something else.”

Depending on your perspective, that’s either very big of Tankian, or a total betrayal of the values he advocates, or an understandable compromise in the name of not making Thanksgiving dinner too awkward. There’s arguments to be made for all of those motivations. Personally, I like getting into political fights at Thanksgiving, but I’ve been told that’s unusual.

You can read the entire interview with Tankian here.

Tankian’s new solo EP, Elasticity, comes out on March 19 via Alchemy Recordings/BMG; check out the title track here, and pre-order the EP here.

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