Serj Tankian: "We Haven't Decided If the Future Contains System or Not"

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Ten months after releasing Elect the Dead, his solo debut, System of a Down frontman Serj Tankian isn't taking time to look back. After settling into the role of sole songwriter and the name on the marquee ("I guess people have to get used to my funny name"), Tankian is finding he can't stop. After a set on Ozzfest's main stage last weekend and staring a slate of impending European festivals in the face, he's looking to wind down the Elect the Dead cycle and push on not only with another solo record, but a handful of other projects.

"I have five hundred recorded songs that are unreleased," he said. "I've been composing for a play with Steven Sater, who did Spring Awakening. I just did a track with Mike Patton for a film called Body of Lies, and there are other films that I'm composing or co-composing." With that mischievous smile on his face that makes it hard to tell if he's on the level, Tankian elaborated on his plans for his second album.

"I'm structuring the next record kind of like a jazz orchestral," he said. "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."

As far as the future of System of a Down, Tankian isn't thinking too hard about what is next for his platinum-selling, arena-filling other band. Two of his cohorts — guitarist Daron Malakian and drummer John Dolmayan — released their debut as Scars on Broadway last month (Serj has the record, but hasn't listened to the whole thing yet), and Tankian says the timing just made sense to take an indefinite breather. "You shouldn't have to wait until people are not buying your records or your tickets for you to stop, I think that's ridiculous," he said. "So I think you should do it when it's the right time, when it makes sense artistically and personally. It's a hiatus, we're all friends, the door's open. We haven't decided what the future contains, whether it contains System or not, and that's fine."