Here we go. Ask Me Anything.

Comments: 5091 • Responses: 43  • Date: 

cloud17201340 karma

Why did you leave your keys up on the table?

serjtankianofficial1873 karma

I just read "He Wanted to" Below...I'll take that for 100

Learchus968 karma

What's the strangest encounter you've had with a fan?

serjtankianofficial1659 karma

This :)

serjtankianofficial951 karma

Thanks all...Ciao

IMP1017925 karma

First off, thanks for doing this. This is the first AMA I've made sure I get to when it started.

Now, questions:

  1. What's your writing process like for your songs? How do you come up with them, what inspires you, how do you come up with the music, etc.

  2. What's your stance on media piracy?

  3. What, in your opinion as a musician, is the most important/influential album of the past 25 years?

  4. How in the hell did you come up with Vicinity of Obscenity

EDIT: He (vaguely)answered this one here

Edit: Bonus/selfish 5th question: I love Holy Mountains. How'd you come up with it?

Again, thank you so much.

serjtankianofficial1032 karma

  1. I write on multiple instruments as starters. Piano, guitar, sometimes electronically, even the ipad as a sketchboard. Inspiration comes from life, philosophy, conversations, art, film, music, etc.
  2. More people listen to music, less pay for it. it affects artist's income from recording and composing, not touring.
  3. Pink Floyd The wall
  4. Don't ask :)
  5. Daron wrote the music and I most of the lyrics.

tacopwnd689 karma

Any plans for a new System of a Down album any time soon?

serjtankianofficial1041 karma

We have not made any plans at this moment. When the time is right, everyone will be made amply aware.

kn0thing671 karma

I grew up with an open letter of yours about the Armenian Genocide on the wall of my bedroom (I'm half Armenian) and listened to quite a bit of SOAD (including a great show @ 9:30Club in DC).

Now here you are doing an AMA on the site I co-founded (quite the mindjob) -- I've gotta know, how the hell did you hear about this site?

serjtankianofficial422 karma

A friend

TravisBatson650 karma

I'm not really here for a question. Just wanted to say thank you for writing Soldier Side.

serjtankianofficial662 karma

Thank you :)

Randyh524636 karma

Ok, I just want to know how your evening was when you took this picture btw love your work!

Major Edit: dude you're awesome! Thanks for the response.

serjtankianofficial722 karma

Can't you tell?

TheKnightsWh0SayNi618 karma

Why is "Chic 'N' Stu" the title of a song about pizza?

serjtankianofficial1091 karma

2 Lakers announcers

rtm316576 karma

I've been a fan of yours since I was in 6th grade (1999), so I have quite a few questions:

  • 1. Is there a particular song that you've written that means more to you than other songs you've written?
  • 2. I remember hearing various interview over the years of songs that you guys wrote, but never released. The first that comes to mind is an instrumental track which was going to be on Hypnotize. Will any of these tracks see the light of day?
  • 3. Do you expect to release all 4 of your albums by the end of 2012?
  • 4. What was it like working with Buckethead? Is there still a follow up to "Enter the Chicken" planned?
  • 5. Do you plan to play in San Francisco on your next tour?
  • 6. What lead to Daron taking on more of the vocal duties on Mesmerize/Hypnotize?
  • 7. How was it working with Larry LaLonde? Did you two write anything together or was he just playing live with you?
  • 8. Are there any SOAD songs that you don't like playing live, but your band mates insist on playing live?
  • 9. Also, not a question, but "Suggestions" has always been one of my favorite SOAD songs.

serjtankianofficial598 karma

1)No 2) Hopefully one day 3) probably by end of 2013 4) Amazing..not yet. 5) Yes, in Sept with the FCC 6) He wanted to sing more. 7) Playing live together. He's awesome :) 8) Yes, but I won't tell you which. 9) Thanks

theredribbon496 karma

Hi Serj! I've been a huge fan for over a decade now, and while this isn't a question, I wanted to share with you a drawing I did of the back-cover of Toxicity almost 9 years ago at age 14 (that I still proudly display in my bedroom). I just wanted to say thank you for the music. You and System of a Down got me through my teenage years and have inspired both me and my art.

Oh wait, I do have a question - how excited are you for Heavy T.O.? All the best from Canada! - Gina

serjtankianofficial271 karma

If that's the 2 festivals in Canada we're playing..Looking forward to it.

SleepySheepy410 karma

I'm sorry if this is personal, but what are your current religious views?
And how do you come up with the lyrics to your songs? They're unbelievably creative.
And what's your favorite instrument to play?

Also, you're awesome, and I love your music :)

EDIT: Also, who are the Kombucha mushroom people?

serjtankianofficial586 karma

1) I believe in the interconnectedness of all things. That is the base of my spiritual practice. 2) Lyrics come to me when I'm open to receive them either in free form poetry or lyrical. The trick is how to adapt them correctly to music and cut out the fat. 3) Piano's my favorite instrument to play, though I love them all.

Not_Brandon409 karma

What is your favorite substance to spread on delicious toast?

serjtankianofficial710 karma

I don't spread on toast

spencer1230386 karma

How are you?

serjtankianofficial556 karma

Great, thanks ;) Hope you are too.

pizzatarian374 karma

Hey Serj, I can't wait to here some new material from you and SOAD, and I just have two questions for you.

1) Was any of the material that you wrote for your album ever intended for a SOAD album?

2) What do you think of Richard Cheese' cover of Chop Suey?

serjtankianofficial416 karma

1) I wrote Harakiri as a solo record. When you have a fully encompassing vision for a song or a record, it's worth going it alone. If you don't collaboration seems suitable. 2) I liked it very much

PsychedelicAmpersand363 karma

Hey Serj,

I'm an Arizona fan, and I noticed a while back that you're listed as part of the boycott against us due to SB 1070. Now that the Supreme Court shot down a good chunk of it, are you still boycotting us? If so, I would assume the boycott extends to System as well. Am I correct in assuming this?

Thank you very much!

serjtankianofficial518 karma

Looking into it now that things are changing. Good question.

longboardingerrday346 karma

Would you ever do a collaboration with Gogol Bordello?

serjtankianofficial503 karma

I have done a song with Eugene and a friend of his in Brazil to come out on their project. More soon.

thomazor329 karma

Was it a mutual decision that Daron was gonna sing as much as he did the last years?

serjtankianofficial544 karma

When you're in a band together as partners, you all need to put in as much as possible. So I have always been encouraging of more output creatively from all the guys.

Serjicalized265 karma

Hi Serj,

  • Has your opinion and view of President Obama changed since he hasn´t yet recognized the Armenian Genocide, even though it was one of his campaign promises? (For those who don´t know see video: and article: Do you think he will eventually recognize it? maybe in his second term, if he wins.

  • Tom Morello and you work a lot together. You two have done songs, concerts and even founded Axis of justice (, will we see you in a more formal musical project? maybe a group, a complete album? (Oh please, say yes)

  • How is your future with SOAD, as a soloist, as an activist, as a poet? I mean, it looks like a lot of work and it could unbalance other aspects of your work or even personal life.

  • What do you do when you're not doing music, enraging politicians or writing? I mean, if you actually have some free time between your works.

  • I was sad when SOAD announced the south american tour and many countries weren´t a future, will you come again to the other countries?

  • And the question that many will SOAD album?

Thank you Serj, for your music, activism and generally....your work. Your music has joined me since my teenage, I always get happy when I hear any of your art. Don't you dare to die...yet!

If you ever need a favor, another groupie for your army, a human sacrifice or stuff, look to the south and ask :)

Again, thank you \m/

EDIT: Formatting

serjtankianofficial415 karma

1) Yes, but I still think he's a better choice than Romney. Part of Obama's lack of success on certain issues is due to his obstructionist opposition. He should take the correct stand as he did during his Senate years on the ARmenian Genocide. 2) Maybe one day, why not? We'll see

3) I love composing and doing music in all ways and fronts. I feel honored to be able to do what I do for a living, so I won't stop. 4) I read, and compose when I'm not doing music :) 5) Time will tell. 6) Answered above.

Dunkeal254 karma

What was it like working with Buckethead, and do you plan on ever collaborating with him again? 

serjtankianofficial363 karma

It was really great. We brought in 11 different singers to participate in Buckethead and Friends "Enter the Chicken". I'd love to do it again one day if it works out.

barneymorin237 karma

Is there anything you've said no to, that you later wish you had said yes?

serjtankianofficial709 karma

Yes, I mean no :)

Lechugameister228 karma

What was the inspiration for "Cigaro"?

serjtankianofficial489 karma

for Daron, not sure. For me, Cheney.

Bobobo-bo-bobro220 karma

For the music video ariels, that kid seemed to be the pinnacle of physical perfection, which is why he looked so strange (the idea being that perfection is ugly to us because our beauty is in our flaws). Am I far off?

serjtankianofficial708 karma

Not sure. are you? All art should be left open to interpretation. Funner that way.

whitepoloshirt192 karma

Favorite shisha flavor? Favorite arabic meal?

serjtankianofficial250 karma

Shisha flavor: not sure since haven't had many Arabic Meal: Too many that I enjoy

seadreaming184 karma

I got my first job when Mezmerize first came out. It was in a candy shop, and when we started to close down we would blast that cd. Everyone in Helen, Ga could hear it every night through the speakers that played outside from 9-10. Really good memories when I think of that album. No question.. just a huge fan of all your work!

serjtankianofficial170 karma

Thanks :)

rafaelfeliipe182 karma

will you let your hair grow back, like 2005 ?

serjtankianofficial302 karma

Maybe one day

tricil164 karma

Have you ever encountered racism from other bands/managers whilst on tour or elsewhere in the industry for being Armenian?

serjtankianofficial225 karma

Not really

aarndt88145 karma

Your singing is amazing in its uniqueness. How did you develop that fast-paced style?

serjtankianofficial313 karma

Coffee..just kidding. Not sure. I don't know what I can't do with my voice, that's how.

maximumdoodoo137 karma


serjtankianofficial498 karma


dulaneydevon134 karma

What is your best advice to new starting, young artists? Who are fully serious about their work. What do you find is most effective for those trying to really break in. Young as in 17+. I have always wanted to know what you would say about this. This means alot to me, thank you Serj! *Mr. Tankian (although I don't think you mind the name edit. haha) Your politically active and message ridden art is one of my biggest inspirations!

serjtankianofficial458 karma

First off, thanks. Advice for a new artist: You can now make your own music easily given technology, and get the word out given the internet. But you have to create a fire in your own back yard before infecting the world. Sell out your local club and go from there.

funkykong132 karma

Hey Serj, as a big fan of Primus I was excited to see Larry LaLonde playing guitar in your touring band. How did that process go about?

serjtankianofficial177 karma

Met Larry through Brain who played on Elect the Dead. Been friends since. He's back with Primus of course so we have Jeff Mallow on 2nd guitars.

[deleted]122 karma

Are some of the words in your lyrics purposefully meant to sound as if they could be other words?

Edit: This is what I meant, oh well darn

serjtankianofficial154 karma

Don't know either of those songs, at least consciously. Good question though

MDevonL119 karma

Love your music.

One simple question: Which band do you think that is just starting out right now will make it big?

serjtankianofficial387 karma

Hard to tell. So many factors in whatever making it big means today. Unfortunately the ones with best chances are on the cheesy TV shows.

NewZealanderer116 karma

ATTENTION SERJ - As a kiwi (NEW ZEALAND FOLK) and knowing that your a recent resident here... what made you want to live here in NZ? Its amazing to have you in our country but what made you choose a dual citizenship? ... on another note i was a young man when I first started listening to you in the 1st self titled album... obviously things have changed in my life as in your lyrics and music (both with the band and going solo)... yet ive felt your music has evolved (for the better) and changed my understanding of politics and life because of that... so thanks for that! I honestly appriciate the effort youve put into the music as well as speaking out politically.. Wish there was more people like yourself out there! Enjoy NZ!!

serjtankianofficial196 karma

NZ has many wonderful positive things and is one of the best places on the planet, but my reason for going there and becoming a resident is based on an intuitive feeling of belonging from the first time I was there. Thanks for the other comments mate.

SyntaxMonstr114 karma

What do you like to do more; jam in a studio or play live shows?

serjtankianofficial299 karma


[deleted]80 karma

I absolutely loved your Elect the Dead Symphony CD. What made you want to a concert with them, and would you ever want to do another one?

serjtankianofficial154 karma

the APO asked me to do an event with them. Couldn't turn down working with an orchestra. I have just finished ORCA, my first real symphony. So after the Harakiri touring cycle is done, we're gonna hit the road with orchestra to do a hybrid show with ETD Symphony and Orca.

gabrielvincent79 karma

Why don't you write a song in Armenian?

serjtankianofficial220 karma

I did. It's on Imperfect Harmonies called Yes it's Genocide.

dodge250073 karma

Hey Serj. I love your new music . I do have a question for you. What was your in septh meaning behind the song "empty walls"? the music video i think describes some of it , but not all of it. And why did you choose kids for the music video? Thnk you , and you have the most unique version of music and an exelent voice . Thanks -justin .

serjtankianofficial161 karma

Thanks Justin. Music like all art is better interpreted by the listener.

soadscars65 karma

Hey Serj, first of all I want to thank you for doing this AMA and want to say because of your work, along side the guys from System, that I started playing the guitar. Also music is a big part of my life now since then in which I started playing piano and drums as well. Anywho my questions are. 1. How long does it normally take for you to write a song lyrically and do you ever have writer's block more than usual? 2. What are some good tips one should take into consideration when writing music?

serjtankianofficial121 karma

1) Some songs take years to develop, others hours. It's hard to tell. 2) Be honest

Achikura64 karma

Hello Serj, welcome to Reddit! Thanks for doing this!

  1. I've always been amazed by your musical talents, and I have to know, where does your inspiration come from? I understand that a lot of it is inspired by politics and genocide, but what about songs like "Lie Lie Lie"?

  2. Also, what is the most memorable thing to have happened to you (or just in general) in your lifetime?

serjtankianofficial186 karma

1) Music comes from collective consciousness. 2) Being born

pennytea52 karma

Hey! First off, I'm a big fan. I really appreciate and enjoy the music you make.

  1. What are your future plans in music? What do you hope to do that you haven't done yet?

  2. If you weren't in music, what would you be doing?

  3. And finally, do you have any funny stories about fans? Have any of them ever propositioned you?

Thanks a bunch for doing this AMA!

Edit: Ninja Edit

serjtankianofficial90 karma

1) After Harakiri and touring for it, I have 3 records and a film to release. Jazz-iz-Christ, Fuktronic, and Orca records, My Year is film-web series most likely. 2) Music 3) What do you think?

thegreatchuy52 karma

Will you ever release a CD with a bunch of cover songs? That would be AWESOME! -I loved your cover of "Girl" by the Beatles.

serjtankianofficial50 karma

Thanks. Maybe one day.

cloudcb48 karma

Do you ever see yourself expanding your creative horizons beyond what you have accomplished so far? Writing novels or directing films? Also, how do you stay grounded when touring and playing the same music over and over again, making it seem as exciting for each and every fan?

serjtankianofficial99 karma

1) Yes, I have a non-fiction prose work in mind having to do with the intersection of spirituality and justice for the future. Also scoring a new video game and will be doing more film scoring in future. 2) Good question: You have to find something new and exciting every day in every city, even if you're performing the same songs.