System Of A Down on releasing new music to raise awareness of Armenia conflict: “We need to help any way we can”

"This is bigger than us, bigger than our emotions, bigger than our feelings, bigger than our egos"

System Of A Down bassist Shavo Odadjian has opened up on how the band put aside their differences to record their first new tracks in 15 years.

The alternative metal legends – all of whom are of Armenian descent – returned last week to deliver ‘Protect The Land’ and ‘Genocidal Humanoidz’ in a bid to raise awareness and funds amid “a dire and serious war being perpetrated upon [their] cultural homelands”, referencing the recently erupted conflict between Artsakh and Azerbaijan.

While drummer John Dolmayan recently clashed with his bandmates over his support for Donald Trump, Odadjian revealed that the drummer first raised the prospect of recording new material with his bandmates.

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“He wrote and said we need to put everything behind and do something,” Odadjian told Fox II.

“We need to be a part of this. We need to help any way we can. This, this is bigger than us, bigger than our emotions, bigger than our feelings, bigger than our egos. Let’s go. And right away, Daron [Malakian, guitarist/vocalist] responded with here I have something that could save time.”

Malakian wrote the music and lyrics to both songs, before they went on to complete a music video for ‘Protect The Land’.

“We’ve been together as in, we’ve gone on tours together, played shows together, hung out together, gone to lunch, going to dinner,” Odadjian continued.

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“We’re friends, you know what I mean? We’re all friends. It’s just, we haven’t been in there creatively together. So when we got in there, at first tension was a little high because we didn’t know how everyone was going to be, but about five minutes into it, we were talking, laughing’s talking about the song, how it’s going to be, how we’re going to help and what this is going to do for our people. That’s the number one thing was what this is going to do to work and help out, how it’s going to help our people.”

He added: “Because I feel like it’s kind of like a Trojan horse, you know, it’s like we’re walking in and the world’s going to listen because it’s 15 years, we haven’t done anything.”

Frontman Serj Tankian said of the tracks: “It’s about raising awareness about what’s going on with the humanitarian catastrophe perpetrated by Azerbaijan and Turkey — and it’s about trying to raise funds.

“The band is donating all of its proceeds to Armenia Fund.”

In a lengthy statement accompanying last week’s songs, the band detailed the conflict taking place between Armenia and Azerbaijan in Nagorno-Karabakh, a disputed region with a large ethnic-Armenian population that Armenians refer to as Artsakh.

A previous war between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the territory ended in a ceasefire in 1994. While internationally recognised as part of Azerbaijan, it has since been mostly governed by Armenia, retaining control and maintaining their independence up to this day.

In September, war broke out in the region again after attacks by Azerbaijan, supported by Turkey. The band say in their statement that the Aliyev and Erdogan regimes in Azerbaijan and Turkey are “committing genocidal acts with impunity” in the region at a time when the coronavirus pandemic, elections and civil unrest distract the rest of the world.

Last month, Tankian admitted it was frustrating being “politically opposite” to Dolmayan, though he clarified that the two were on “the exact same page” when it came to issues relating to Armenia.

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