Nü-metal legends System of a Down last released full albums of new material in 2005, with their dual Mezmerize and Hypnotize LPs. And while they did issue a two songs, "Protect the Land" and "Genocidal Humanoidz," in 2020, the band has been otherwise inactive on the recording front, with numerous reports about internal conflicts between the band members.
Now, drummer John Dolmayan has addressed the band’s struggles to record music in a new interview with the Battleline Podcast. Speaking about SOAD vocalist Serj Tankian, he said (transcribed by Blabbermouth), "Serj hasn't really wanted to be in a band for a long time. And quite frankly, we probably should have parted ways around 2006. We tried to get together multiple times to make an album, but there were certain rules set in place that made it difficult to do so and maintain the integrity of what System of a Down stood for. So we couldn't really come together and agree. And part of that is Serj's fault, and part of that is my fault, and Shavo's [bassist Shavo Odadjian] and Daron's [guitarist Daron Malakian], as well.
“But at the end of the day, if you have a majority of the band thinking one way and one person thinking the other, it's very difficult to come together and make music thinking that person is important. And every member of this band is very important to the overall sound of the band. And you'll know this by listening to anybody's side projects; they're never quite that good compared to System. In fact, I think a lot of 'em aren't very good at all. And when you compare that to what we do together as System, you understand why the team matters and having certain talents come together and merge matter and that magic thing captured doing that matters."
Asked to elaborate on his statement that the band should have split up in 2006, he continued, "I think we should have moved on, and if Serj didn't wanna be in the band at that time, we should have just moved on and done it with somebody else. But that's what happens when you're loyal and you really wanna make it work; you'll put up with things that may be detrimental to the health of the band or the health of the situation. Maybe it would have been better if we moved on and got another singer for an album or two and continued to make music and brought Serj back later if he wanted to come back. That probably would have been better. But as it is, I think we wasted 15, maybe 20 years of our lives waiting."
That said, Dolmayan noted, "When we're actually onstage, it's great. It's just getting to that point that is disheartening. We have one show booked for next year [at the Sick New World festival, in May]. One show. That's it.”
Dolmayan added, "I think we would like to be working a lot more, but Serj also has a bad back now; he's messed up his back somehow. And he just doesn't wanna tour as much as the rest of us do. Look, if my wife told me that we were gonna have sex once a year, I'd be divorced. So you figure that out for what it is.
"I don't think this is sustainable. The rest of us wanna work a lot more than he does. Now I don't know if that means we're just gonna break up and forget about it and call it a career or if we're gonna move forward with somebody else or if Serj is gonna come around. Ultimately, the best-case scenario for me is Serj comes around and we can do, like, 15, 20 shows a year. Even that would be enough. We'd be able to go to places that we haven't gone in a long time and play in front of fans that have never seen us play. That's important to me."
Dolmayan summed up, "I don't know what's gonna happen. Even talking about System kind of bums me out, because I know what our potential is. And I know that if we make an album, it'll be fantastic 'cause we have songs that have been ready for five [or] six years now; we just have to go in and record 'em. And I don't know if that's gonna happen or not."