TAP Exclusive Interview: Serj Tankian (New Album Elect the Dead Symphony Out Now!)

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Serj Tankian, a Grammy Award winner and one of rock’s most unconventional frontmen, will perform Elect the Dead Symphony — a very special orchestral interpretation of Tankian’s critically acclaimed solo debut Elect the Dead — for two very special live shows to take place this summer.

Tankian will recreate Elect the Dead Symphony — which had its dynamic inaugural performance at New Zealand’s majestic Auckland Town Hall with the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra in March 2009 — with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra at Chastain Park Amphitheater on July 9th in Atlanta, and with an orchestra put together by The Greek Theatre on July 30th at The Greek Theatre in Los Angeles. The shows follow a series of symphonic performances Tankian is giving in Europe in June.

The performance in New Zealand has also been captured on the Elect the Dead Symphony CD/DVD, which is in-stores now, and available on iTunes here.

We recently had a chance to send over some questions to Serj about System Of A Down, his poetry, relations with Turkey and Armenia, his upcoming solo album and more. Check it all out below:

The Audio Perv: Shavo, John and Daron have performed together at a few events over the last year. Though you’re currently on hiatus, would you ever consider performing live with them together as System Of A Down again as opposed to recording new music with them?

Serj Tankian: We have never closed the door on working together in the future and that still remains.

I would not be opposed to doing a special concert or maybe even a tour pending the correct circumstances and time. However I am currently in the middle of a very busy year with the release of the Elect the Dead Symphony, orchestral shows to accompany that, the release of my 2nd solo album and subsequent touring for that and the opening of the musical Prometheus Bound.

The Audio Perv: You just released Elect The Dead Symphony on CD/DVD. Do you have a timetable as to when you’d like to release your next solo record?

Serj Tankian: We’re hoping to have my 2nd solo album out by late summer (Aug-Sept). My second solo album is electronic, orchestral (live orchestra), jazz and rock all at the same time. It is a sound I’ve never heard before, and for me, borderless. I still haven’t settled on a title name for the record. It is a very powerful and intriguing record with many layers. Yet it’s also memorable in the way good songwriting should be. Some of my favorite records are so compelling that they require multiple listens to try to figure out what’s going on. It sports a huge wall of sound, depth, and the maturity of a seasoned artist, so I’m told :)

The Audio Perv: What are you most proud of in your music career: System Of A Down, your solo record, your live performance with the symphony, or your record label Serjical Strike?

Serj Tankian: I’m quite happy with all of the different albums, collaborations, solo efforts and performances that I’ve been a part of. Every year I up the ante on what I’d like to accomplish. My highest point with System would be the political and genocide awareness work along with collaboratively creating music that was both experimental and popular. Elect the Dead, my solo record, gave me the confidence and personal drive to go at it alone and continue to say that things that I wanted to say with the music while making the rock record I’ve always dreamed of making. The Elect the Dead Symphony gave me a new high with the orchestra and dreaming up new sounds for my palette. And finally my next solo record will be the culmination of everything that I’ve learned and created from System to now, introducing a new type of music altogether.

The Audio Perv: You were voted the #26 greatest metal vocalist of all time by Hit Parader magazine. How do you feel about you and System Of A Down’s place in metal? Is that something you care about?

Serj Tankian: Awards, especially ones based on people voting are always compliments, though the award itself has no real intrinsic value in what I do for a living.

The Audio Perv: You used to use your music to support your political views heavily when in System Of A Down. Would you say that your music now still carries a heavy political theme?

Serj Tankian: Most definitely. With System Of A Down I was always reigned in from getting “too political.”

With my solo efforts, I reign myself in for not getting political enough :)

Look with both system and my solo efforts I write about a myriad of themes that inspire or affect me. From the political, to the personal, from the humorous to the absurd.

The Audio Perv: You’ve been very vocal about the recognition of the Armenian genocide of 1915. Do you think there is still a lot of Armenian animosity for the Turkish community? What actions would you consider appropriate in order to allow the two countries to coexist more peacefully?

Serj Tankian: Anytime that an injustice is not corrected, ill feelings with remain. So long as Turkey lies about its own history in committing a genocide in 1915, people of Armenian descent and others in the international community will find it hard to forgive and forget. When Turkey decides to take the high road and recognize the Genocide and pursue efforts in providing justice to those affected including the descendents of those who have suffered, the positive powers of healing can take effect. There can never really be forgiveness nor cooperation without the truth and positive intentions to repair the relationship. Just the opposite, Turkey has used the so called “Protocols” with Armenia while simultaneously continuing its disinformation campaign in the U.S. and elsewhere. A good partner for peace must show true intentions, not political deviancy.

The Audio Perv: Is there any unreleased System Of A Down music that you could see coming out sometime in the near future?

Serj Tankian: Yes. There are some unreleased songs.

The Audio Perv: Do you have any plans on producing records for other bands?

Serj Tankian: I am helping out a band called Visa with some of their songs in that same respect, but full on production I have decided to reserve for my own records and/or projects that I’m involved in as an artist.

The Audio Perv: You had written a poetry book, Cool Gardens, that was published in 2002. Though some of your songs are based off of your poetry, will you release another poetry book?

Serj Tankian: Yes. I’m releasing my second poetry book next year (2011). The poems are already penned and set aside. A good friend of mine, Roger Kupelian, who is a digital painting wizard (Lord of the Rings to Alice in Wonderland and many Hollywood films) is doing the artwork as we speak.

Pick up Elect the Dead Symphony CD/DVD on Amazon or iTunes.

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