Saturday, December 18, 2010

Serj Tankian

Serj Tankian (Armenian: Սերժ Թանգեան [ˈsɛɾʒ tʰɑnˈkʰjɑn]; born August 21, 1967) is an Armenian-American singer–songwriter, composer, multi-instrumentalist, record producer, poet, and a political activist. He is best known as the lead vocalist, songwriter, keyboardist, and occasional live rhythm guitarist of the Grammy Award-winning rock band, System of a Down.
During his musical career, Tankian has released five albums with System of a Down, one with Arto Tunçboyacıyan (Serart), as well as two solo albums Elect the Dead and Imperfect Harmonies and a live orchestral version of the former incorporating the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra named Elect the Dead Symphony. In 2002, Tankian and Rage Against the Machine/Audioslave guitarist Tom Morello co-founded a non-profit political activist organization, Axis of Justice. Tankian also founded the music label Serjical Strike Records.
Serj Tankian is named as the 26th greatest metal vocalist of all time by Hit Parader magazine.


Early life

Tankian was born in Beirut, Lebanon on August 21, 1967His father is Khatchadour Tankian. When he was eight years old his family immigrated to Los Angeles, California.In his youth, he attended a school for Armenian-Americans, The Rose & Alex Pilibos School, which was also attended by Tankian's future System of a Down bandmates Daron Malakian and Shavo Odadjian.Doing well academically Tankian attended California State University. This is where Tankian first began to play instruments and write songs.

Soil and System of a Down (1994-2006)

The early beginnings of System of a Down lie in a band named Soil (not to be confused with the Chicago-based band Soil) with Tankian on vocals & keyboards, Daron Malakian on vocals & lead guitar, Dave Hakopyan on bass and Domingo Loranio on drums. The band hired Shavo Odadjian as their then-manager but for him to later join as rhythm guitarist. Loriano and Hakopyan later left the band feeling that it wasn't going anywhere, leading to Soil splitting up.
After Soil split up, Tankian, Odadjian and Malakian formed a new band they called System of a Down, after a poem Malakian wrote called "Victims of a Down." Their original drummer was Ontronik Khachaturian, with whom they had spent time playing with in Soil, though he was later replaced by John Dolmayan after breaking his hand shortly before a gig the band had been booked to play, giving Dolmayan the last-minute call up. The band quickly began touring the Southern California rock clubs, and began to attract a strong following. As a side note, Serj is the only member of System of a Down that has never been seen shirtless in any major performances.

Solo works (2001-present)

Tankian has been a guest vocalist for songs such as "Mushroom Cult" by Dog Fashion Disco, "Mein" by Deftones and "Feel Good" by Hed PE. He produced Enter the Chicken by Buckethead, and provided vocals to the songs "We Are One", "Coma", and "Waiting Hare" that are included on the album. With Serjical Strike Records, he endeavors to offer those musicians often ignored by the mainstream a possibility to release their music and be heard. The first release of Tankian's new label was Serart, an album by Tankian himself, and Arto Tunçboyacıyan, a Turkish-Armenian friend of his.
In 2007, Serj composed and wrote "The Essence of Tequila" and "Chicakong" for the video game soundtrack of John Woo Presents Stranglehold. He also helped with "Stranglehold Rough 2" and "Pianoimprovstrangle 2".
More recently, he sang with Les Rita Mitsouko on the song "Terminal Beauty". Also, he sang with the band Fair to Midland during a live improvisational version of their song "Walls of Jericho", from the album Fables from a Mayfly: What I Tell You Three Times Is True, which was a massive hit with fans. He often collaborates with his close friend, director Diran Noubar on various projects, including the voice-over of Noubar's Armenia, a Country Under Blockade. Noubar played some guitar on Tankian's Elect the Dead album on the track "Saving Us" and directed the music video for "Baby".
Serj Tankian performing in 2005
Tankian is also politically involved. Together with Tom Morello, he founded the organization Axis of Justice. Tankian is a New Zealand resident and has a secondary vacation dwelling there.[8] There has been a misconception that he intends to stay in New Zealand until the Iraq War is over, but as stated in an interview, Tankian has no intention of doing so. He often speaks publicly against violence and injustice in the world. Tankian released a new song "Fears" in November 2008 exclusively in support of Amnesty International's Global Write-A-Thon.[9]
Tankian told The Pulse of Radio that the highlights of his last eight months on the road may soon be documented in a DVD featuring videos, live performances and behind-the-scenes footage.[citation needed]
On March 16, 2009, Serj performed with the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra in New Zealand, an orchestral version of the album Elect the Dead. The live performance was captured in a CD/DVD titled Elect the Dead Symphony which was released on March 9, 2010.
Tankian is currently co-writing a musical with the American playwright Steven Sater. It is based on the Ancient Greek tragedy Prometheus Bound. He stated that eight songs have been completed and that there will be a record.[10]
In 2009, Tankian collaborated with the band Viza (previously known as Visa) for their track "Viktor".[11] Viza is signed to Tankian's Serjical Strike label.
On February 15, 2010, Serj Tankian released a new single, "The Charade." The song is available as a digital download on iTunes.
Tankian's second solo album was originally due in 2009. It is said to be more of a jazz and orchestral based sound. Said Tankian of the second album, "I'm structuring the next record kind of like a jazz orchestral. I've got a full orchestra interested, so I want this giant electric guitar in the air to be played by a full orchestra. I want the orchestra to be the electric guitar. I want to make an orchestra do what it's never done before, like a GG Allin type orchestra. Think of that."[12] The album had the working title Music Without Borders, however, the final album title is Imperfect Harmonies. On June 23, 2010, a promo single from his upcoming album Imperfect Harmonies was released called "Borders Are." The first radio single from Imperfect Harmonies, Left Of Center, was released on July 13, 2010. A third single, "Disowned Inc." was released on August 9, 2010. Imperfect Harmonies was released on September 21, 2010. Preceding the album's release, two contests were announced (one consisting of brainteasers related to the album/song titles, the other an art contest) in which fans could win prizes such as Tankian's autograph and merchandise. On August 22, 2010, a music video for Left Of Center was released on Tankian's MySpace account.
The premiere date for Tankian and Sater's Prometheus Bound at the American Repertory Theater is February 25, 2011. The singer has said that collaborating on the show has been a great learning experience for him. “I’ve been using a lot of my archives, a lot of different types of music that I had already put together for underscoring and what not,” he said. “It’s quite diverse, from noise to jazz to electronic stuff to hip-hop songs to rock songs to cool, piano dark underscores, and that’s a whole different bag of tricks there because it’s always evolving. Unlike a film score that’s very linear and you get a scene to score for, this is something where you do another workshop and one song is gone, that underscore changes to 20 seconds and they need something else on the spot. Everything’s always changing until the show comes, so it’s quite interesting.” [13]

[edit] System of a Down Reunion (2011)

On November 29, 2010, following several weeks of internet rumors, System of a Down officially announced that they would be reuniting for a string of large European festival dates in June 2011.[14] Among the announced tour dates included UK's Download Festival, Switzerland's Greenfield Festival, Germany's Rock am Ring/Rock im Park, Sweden's Metaltown, Austria's Nova Rock Festival and Finland's Provinssirock. In their reunion statement posted on their website, the band was unclear as to the extent of their reformation. It read, "We have no master plan of sorts -- we are playing these shows simply because we want to play together again as a band and for you, our amazing fans."[15] It is currently unknown whether or not other dates will be announced.

[edit] Animal rights

In recent years Tankian has taken a stance supporting animal rights. He also has become a vegetarian who has strong feelings against the establishment of industrial slaughterhouses. In an interview with PETA, he also claimed his change due to "touring and its variety of edible crap", and also he felt it was "instinctive somewhat". Furthermore, he also feels the need for respect towards 'mother earth'.[16]
In July 2009, Serj signed a PETA petition against the slaughtering methods of chickens in KFC slaughterhouses.[17]

[edit] The F.C.C.

The F.C.C. (Flying Cunts of Chaos) was Serj's backing band when he played live up until 2009.[18]
Final line-up
  • Mario Pagliarulo  — bass, vocals
  • Erwin Khachikian  — keyboards, piano, synthesizers, vocals
  • Troy Zeigler  — drums, vocals
  • Dan Monti  — guitar, vocals
  • Jeff Mallow  — guitar, vocals (2008–present)
Past members

[edit] Discography

With System of a Down
With Serart
With Buckethead
With Tony Iommi
With Wyclef Jean

[edit] Bibliography

[edit] Awards and nominations

System of a Down has been nominated for four Grammy Awards, of which has won one in 2006 for Best Hard Rock Performance for the song B.Y.O.B.. The band has also been nominated for several Kerrang! and MTV awards.
Grammy Awards
Year Nominated work Award Result
2002 "Chop Suey!" Best Metal Performance Nominated
2003 "Aerials" Best Hard Rock Performance Nominated
2006 "B.Y.O.B." Best Hard Rock Performance Won
2007 "Lonely Day" Best Hard Rock Performance Nominated
  • In 2005, System of a Down won for Best Alternative Act in the Europe Music Awards
  • In 2006, System of a Down won the "MTV Good Woodie Award" for their song "Question!"
  • In 2006, System of a Down's song "Toxicity" was #14 on the VH1 Top 40 Metal Songs list


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