In the Studio: System of a Down Side Project Scars on Broadway Trades Metal for Melodic Rock

January 28, 2008 3:15 PM ET

John Dolmayan thought he'd have a few relaxing years when System of a Down went on hiatus in 2006. It didn't work out that way: He appeared on bandmate Serj Tankian's solo debut, and now he's behind the drums again in sessions for Scars on Broadway, his new band with SOAD singer-guitarist Daron Malakian. Surrounded by flickering candles at Sunset Sound in Hollywood, Dolmayan is pounding a forceful, brooding beat that's heavy on the cymbals. Watching nearby, Malakian calls it "the Dolmayan shuffle."

Most weeks, Dolmayan drives into L.A. from his Las Vegas condo for rehearsals at Malakian's house. "I look forward to it," says Dolmayan. "I'm very proud of what we're accomplishing." Malakian has shifted his songwriting away from SOAD's frazzled metal to more song-based work, inspired by Neil Young and David Bowie. "I don't feel we're the mosh-pit band," says Malakian. "That's just where I'm comfortable as a writer right now."

Recording started in October, with Malakian producing the disc himself. Rick Rubin was an early visitor, offering feedback on the new songs. "World Gone Wrong" has a churning rock sound, and "Universe" is forlorn and melodic. Scars aren't overtly political but still provocative. On "3005," Malakian sings, "Let's clap our hands for the president and Jesus Christ/And don't forget Charles Manson."

"I feel more pressure — people have expectations," Malakian says of the new tunes. "I'm a little nervous to let people in just yet." But the wait for another System album could be a while. "I would expect another Scars album before another System album," says Malakian. "You can't quit family, though. I'll always feel some kind of bond with Serj, and I'm sure he will with me."

Related Stories:
Serj Tankian: "Civilization Is Over"
Serj Tankian Talks Solo Album, Prolific Use of the C-Word: Exclusive Audio
Mastodon's Brent Hinds' VMAs Head Injury Due to Fight With System of a Down Bassist

To read the new issue of Rolling Stone online, plus the entire RS archive: Click Here

Music Main Next
Daily Newsletter

Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
marketing partners.


We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

Song Stories


Nelly Furtado with Timbaland | 2006

This club-oriented single featuring Timbaland, who produced Nelly Furtado's third album, Loose, was Furtado’s sexy return after the Canadian singer's exploration of her Portuguese heritage on Folklore. "In the studio, initially I didn’t know if I could do it, 'cause Timbaland wrote that chorus," Furtado said. "I'm like, 'That's cool, but I don't know if I'm ready to do full-out club.'" The flirty lyrics are a dance between a guy and girl, each knowing they will end up in bed together but still playing the game. "Tim and I called it 'The BlackBerry Song,' she said, "because everything we say in the song you could text-message to somebody."

More Song Stories entries »