System of a Down’s John Dolmayan: ‘I’m Not Really Happy With Where the Band Is Right Now’ -
When System of a Down reunited following a lengthy hiatus to embark on a world tour that took up parts of 2011, 2012 and 2013, fans naturally began to speculate about a new album. Unfortunately, no new SOAD music has been released, and drummer John Dolmayan addresses the topic in our exclusive interview below.
After System’s set at the Hollywood Bowl on July 29, 2013, Dolmayan told the crowd, “Next time we come back here, we’ll have a new f—ing album!” System haven’t returned to the Hollywood Bowl since, and obviously, haven’t released a new record.
While we had Dolmayan on the phone to speak about his new project These Grey Men, the drummer spilled his guts about SOAD, declaring, “I’m not really happy with where the band is right now,” adding that the fact System haven’t started creating again is “not okay.”
When the reunion happened, was there a unique sense of excitement between the four of you? Was the tour a positive experience?
It didn’t start that way. When we decided to get back together, it was weird. It wasn’t a comfortable feeling in the beginning. I can equate it to if you’ve ever had difficulties with a girlfriend and you guys took some time off from each other, when you get back together there’s that elation that you’re back together, but there’s also a little bit of fear, you know? Is it going to work? Is it going to be fun? Will it be the same? Is there going to be resentment? It took a long time to get past that, I’d say months. As we played more and more shows, it became more and more fun. Those feelings started to subside. I feel like this band still has a lot of issues, things we just have to work out. I’m not really happy with where the band is right now. I think that it’s been way too long since we’ve made an album and I’ve kind of had enough of the mentality of “that’s okay.” It’s not okay.
You seem like the member who is the most gung-ho about making a new System record. Do you feel that’s the case?
I’m not sure if I’m the member who wants it the most. It’s probably true about [me] being the most vocal about wanting it. For me, there’s no ego involved. I don’t write songs, so I’m not worried about who’s going to write the song. I’m just ready. You just give me the canvas so I can paint on it, that’s how I look at it. So it’s easier for me, but look, there’s a lot of emotions involved with being an artist; there’s a lot of emotions involved to being a songwriter; and there’s a lot of fear involved with anything that you haven’t done in a long time. To go in together and work together? We’re different people. 2005 was the last time we were in the studio together. That’s what, nine years ago?
It’s weird to think that.
But it’s true. We’re turning into the Eagles now. 15 years are gonna go by before we make a new album. [Laughs] For me, it’s irritating. But I do the best I can to understand that there’s a lot to be worked through in order to make something great and if it isn’t fantastic, there’s no reason for us to do it.
How close in contact are you with the other members? It’s interesting, you’re telling me as the tour developed things were getting better and better between you guys. Has that positive relationship with the band continued or is it something that will have to be built up yet again?
It certainly helped. It broke down a lot of barriers, it thawed a lot of ice, but there are still some mentalities that are irritating that we can’t seem to get past or haven’t been able to get past at this point. Hopefully with more communication, which we’ve been doing more and more, we’ll be able to break down those barriers and get back to what we’re supposed to be doing, which is making music.
It’s great to know that you’re building momentum for something in the future.
It always seems like it’s on the cusp of happening, but there’s also some personal reasons we haven’t started yet. We could have started already, but we chose not to for personal reasons that I’m not at liberty to discuss right now. It’s positive stuff, that’s all I can say at the moment. We could have very easily have been in the studio as you and I are speaking right now, but for something very positive, we couldn’t. Let’s just leave it at that. Let people surmise what that means.