Serj PT 3
Serj Tankian Interview
00:00 / 02:22
Rock News

Serj Tankian tells us about the System of a Down and RHCP gig that NZ fans almost got this year


Earlier this year, The Rock got the chance to sit down with Serj Tankian at Auckland's Suite Gallery, where he was showing his latest art exhibition, 'Kiwi in Pangea'. 

A few hours after we caught up, the tiny wee gallery on Ponsonby Road got absolutely mobbed by System of a Down fans keen to meet the metal legend and have a look at his art while listening to the musical compositions that go along with them. 

The queue to get in on opening night stretched down the street, and it was pretty bloody cool to see how many young SOAD fans are now rocking out to System, some 25 years after the band's first album. 

For this reason, I had to ask Serj the "impossible question" - can we ever hope to get a new System of a Down album? What I didn't expect him to tell me is that Kiwi fans got about *thiiiis* close to getting a System of a Down LIVE SHOW in New Zealand THIS YEAR with RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS also on the lineup. 

You probably remember the Chilis played NZ in Jan this year, and it was fucking epic. Turns out, Serj was there, and was scheming up a benefit show that would have been one of the most glorious double headline gigs that Aotearoa had seen in recent memory.

"I was talking to Flea before we came to New Zealand - I was trying to put together a benefit show for the Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh that are now blockaded by Azerbaijan," he explained. 

I thought it would be nice to do a concert with System of a Down and Chili Peppers and whatnot.

NICE? NICEEEE?! I couldn't believe what I was hearing. 

My brain started overheating with thoughts of the legendary setlists that could have been. 

Would they have performed TOGETHER? The thought of those two rock titans on the same stage was almost too much to bear. 

"So I contacted Flea, but they were between tours, people had plans. But we had a nice chat and he was really really gracious and loving," Serj said. 

"I invited him up to the farm, it was great catching up. All those guys are great. I've known John (Frusciante) and [Flea] and Anthony (Keidis) for so many years." 

Ok, so we missed out this time, but these guys are solid mates, and the seed has been planted. Now we wait. 

Right - back to the other important item on the agenda. Any chance of System getting back in the studio together? 

"It doesn't look likely, but I never know. No one ever knows. It's the impossible question," Serj told me. 

The metal pioneers haven't put out an album since 2005, and while they have performed together since then, the band has also had it's fair share of creative differences.

Serj has often said maintaining his friendship with the boys is way more important to him than trying to get on the same page musically, which has previously caused them to butt heads. 

"It's about vision, it's about understanding where you wanna take the music and where you wanna take the band," he said. 

"If you can't agree on those basic elements, then irrespective of the profitability, irrespective of how much people love it, if as artists you can't really see eye to eye creatively, then you don't… until you do. 

"So when we do…" he continued, before hastily adding "if we do!" 

Nah, sorry Serj! Too late. You said 'when'. We all heard it.