System of a Down’s Serj Tankian: “The Whole World Felt Relief” When Donald Trump Lost
“Relief” is the word I used most when my friends from abroad asked me how I felt when Donald Trump lost the 2020 U.S. presidential election (his refusal to concede being a separate issue). Was I stoked on Joe Biden? Not particularly, as his centrist approach doesn’t align with many of my own U.S. policy goals. But it was insanely relieving to not have to worry about a psychopath at the top anymore and the constant stream of lies and hate-mongering emanating from the White House. And now that Biden is in office, that relief has been borne out; instead of a headline a day on some insane shit Trump said, Biden’s quieter presence indicates work is happening, as it should be. The last four years were exhausting.
System a Down frontman Serj Tankian is man after my own heart. In a recent chat with NME, he expressed the same sense of relief that a good chunk of the world felt while also lamenting the fact that Biden’s policies won’t be as progressive as he’d like. When asked if he felt hopeful about Biden’s presidency, he explained:
“I think the word is ‘relief’ more than ‘hopeful.’ With Trump gone and Biden in, I think there was a sense of relief that we all sighed — not just in the U.S. but around the world, because U.S. policy affects the rest of the world more than any other country in the world. And the president way too much power in terms of foreign policy — more than domestic policy, because Congress will hamper him on domestic policy. A U.S. president has way too much power in terms of foreign affairs, so it affects the rest of the world greatly. So I think the whole world felt a bit of a relief that Trump was gone and someone more of an adult was now in power.
“Does it go far enough for me as an activist in terms of my wishes for pushing the envelope on lifestyle changes having to do with climate change? Does it go far enough in terms of my wishes of wealth distribution or free tuition and free health care in the U.S. I would like to see all those things coming to fruition. Hopefully Biden’s administration opens the doors to some of those ideas that Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren and some other progressives were pushing for. So, personally, it’s kind of middle of the road for me, but compared to the chaotic policies of whatever the Trump administration was called, lacking three-quarters of the staff that actually does the work, it’s great.”
Speaking to Metal Hammer, Tankian recently acknowledged the constant drama in System while also playing up its benefits, explaining:
“Show me a band that doesn’t have drama, and I’ll show you a shitty band. There will always be drama – we’re four individuals who feel different about different things. But the press has played it up, and it’s kept the band in the limelight irrespective of our lack of making a record for 14 or 15 years.
“We put out two songs for Artsakh [in 2020], which to me is one of the best things we’ve ever done as a band, in terms of reaching beyond ourselves. And I’m extremely proud of my brothers in System Of A Down that we were able to accomplish that. But yeah, you know, the drama’s gonna be there, always.”
System of a Down released two new songs, “Genocidal Humanoidz” and “Protect the Land,” this past November to bring awareness to the conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia over the territory of Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabagh). The tracks — the first time the band released new music in fifteen years — went on to raise more than $600,000 for Artsakh.
Tankian released his first solo album, Elasticity, earlier this month, while bassist Shavo Odadjian has been busy with North Kingsley.