HAYTOUG: Can you tell us a little bit about your background growing up?
SERJ TANKIAN: I was born in Beirut, Lebanon in 1967. I went to Chatalbashian Varjaran in Beirut, Alex Pilibos in Hollywood, CA, and got my bachelors in Business from California State University of Northridge.
H: How did System of a Down come to form? Were you guys expecting the super-stardom that System achieved?
S.T.: We all met through rehearsal situations where one band was sharing rehearsal space with another. Daron [Malakian] and I were in different bands and met first, then met Shavo [Odadjian], and finally John [Dolmayan], when his band was rehearsing with System. We all just wanted to make a living doing what we loved to do. The rest just happened.
H: Tell us about the inspirations behind your new solo album, Elect the Dead?
S.T.: There are many inspirations from personal, to social, theoretical to political. All open to interpretation, as good art should be. The concept of the ending of civilization is also very apparent throughout the record and my thoughts of last.
H: Who will you be supporting in the upcoming American presidential election and why?
S.T.: Obama. He’s the only real candidate of choice and honesty. Originally I had supported Dennis Kucinich for his anti-imperialist and pro-working man stance.
H: Tell us about your work with Axis of Justice?
S.T.: Check out www.axisofjustice.org and you’ll see. We’ve had this non-profit since 2002 and have done tremendous work in both worlds of philanthropy (feeding the homeless, supporting food shelters, donating to environmental disasters), to our political work (labor, anti-war, environmental, human rights, genocide recognition, labor rights, etc).
H: Your music has brought an incredible amount of attention to the Armenian Cause; what is the best way young people today can raise consciousness of the importance of Genocide awareness?
S.T.: By being aware and contributing to the halting of genocide around the world now and in the future anywhere on the planet.
H: What message would you impart to those Armenian youth that feel powerless or are uninterested in issues pertaining to Genocide recognition or US policies in general?
S.T.: Everyone has a vision on this planet and not all of us are destined to deal with any specific issues or causes. I would advise people to find their own vision and pursue it with a hunger unseen to achieve their own state of transcendence. Everything on this planet is connected. And if that’s the case, then working towards justice should be one of our primary goals as humans here.
H: What are your plans for the future?
S.T.: More music, more politics, and much more love… Musically, I’m working on composing for a play, films, video games, and another solo record of jazz/orchestral elements.