The only thing System of a Down have been really making headlines about lately isn't the fact that we will probably never hear new music from them again, but instead the varyingly different political viewpoints of frontman Serj Tankian and drummer John Dolmayan. Dolmayan has been making headlines for his contradictory stances to Tankian's to the point that Tankian had to release a statement about their "extremely polarized" political differences. The duo remain friends, and are actually brothers-in-law, through marriage, as they married a pair of sisters. But things got so heated a few months ago, in the press, that System of A Down's management had to make sure everything was okay.
During a recent appearance on the Deviant Gentlemen podcast, Dolmayan was asked if anybody in the industry asked him to stop expressing his views, and Dolmayan responded with this interesting tidbit:
“No. My manager, he was just, like, ‘Look, maybe you guys are going a little too far’ — for both Serj and I. And we did have a private text conversation between me, [our manager] and Serj. And again, I think Serj views himself in a way where he’s really doing the right thing. And he really does care about people. And he does a lot for individuals and our nation as well.
He’s really trying to help people, Serj. I believe he’s a good person, inherently. But again, it’s that moral high ground that they think they’re on — that perceived moral high ground. It kind of blinds them to being open about ideas they might be wrong on.”
Dolmayan also explained the brothers-in-law situation, "We're married to two sisters. He married the older sister, and I married the younger sister. By coincidence, of course — we didn't plan it that way."
Dolmayan went on to say he is being more vocal about his opinions because he doesn't want System of a Down to only be seen as a leftist band.
“One of the reasons why I put up these posts is because System Of A Down has a legacy of being left-leaning, which isn’t always the case. Serj, of course, is responsible for the lyrics, but they didn’t always represent the band in the way that we maybe wanted [them] to. There’s four individuals in the band.
"I don’t speak for any of the individuals except for myself, and neither does Serj. But because he had that platform of writing lyrics, the perception was out there that that’s how the band felt at all times, where I don’t even think Serj necessarily felt those ways at all times. You’re supposed to have diversity of opinion even within your own mind, and you should judge things based on information that’s presented to you.
"A lot of those lyrics I did agree with at that time — for example, reforming the prison system. Some things Trump has actually done. I just don’t believe it’s quite as ‘black and white’ as we’re led to believe it is, that if you don’t have an open mind about things and if you don’t delve into the reasons things are happening and kind of discover things for yourselves, and you just say ‘Okay, I’m a Republican’ or ‘I’m a Democrat, and that’s what I’m gonna be for the rest of my life,’ you’re doing yourself a disservice.
"One of the main reasons and primary reasons I get myself into a lot of trouble and do myself no favors by posting the things I post, because they’re not popular views, but one of the reasons I do it is because if you’re a System fan, and you enjoy the music, you enjoy some of the lyrics… And by the way, only about 12 percent or less of our music is political in origin anyway…
"There’s a lot of lyrics that are social, they’re about love interests, they’re about your life, they’re about calamities that take place, and some of them are just fantasy. And a lot of that stuff is taken out of context as well. But if you’re a System fan and you gravitate towards the music, you enjoy the music, but you don’t necessarily agree with the perceived message, well, where do you go?
"If you think that Serj is the mouthpiece of the band, which he is, as far as vocally, but not necessarily for ideology, then you have nowhere to go. So I wanted to present a different view and to give kids out there who think differently and who are critical thinkers, not necessarily following the norm, that there is a different option, you can think differently, it’s okay to have diversity of opinion, as long as it’s done peaceably.”