System of a Down Pose “Question!” - Rolling Stone
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System of a Down Pose “Question!”

Tankian and Co. stage a fairy tale about death

System of a Down just finished shooting the video for “Question!,” the second single from their chart-topping Mezmerize CD. Bassist Shavo Odadjian directed the clip for the song, which singer Serj Tankian wrote about death.

“It starts out with a death of a bird, and then the theater opens up and the play begins,” Tankian says of the video. “You go through this kind of Adam and Eve process — there’s a little boy picking berries and he ends up poisoning this little girl that he loves. And then there’s adult versions of each of them and then the girl’s dying and then there’s the birth of a baby. It’s kind of like life changes forms, spirit changes forms but it keeps on going, so death is not really death . . . It’s actually less of a giant performance video and more like a dream sequence or a play.”

The video, sparked by one of Odadjian’s dreams, was shot in the now-closed Los Angeles Theater, which opened in 1931. “It’s an amazing old theater that is due for renovation,” Tankian says. “I’m glad they haven’t renovated it yet, because it has the right character for what we were looking for. It has a fairy tale vibe.”

Hypnotize, the bookend to Mezmerize, is slated for release late this fall and includes “Vicinity of Obscenity,” which Tankian describes as “probably the craziest song I’ve ever written.” Having converted his guesthouse into a studio, Tankian utilized his home setup to work up strings and synth treatments for the two albums, as well as for recording parts for the an by former Guns n’ Roses guitarist Buckethead. Produced by Tankian and set for release later this year on his Serjical Strike label, the album also features poet Saul Williams, Death by Stereo and Bad Acid Trip. “It goes from really amazing ballads to a hip-hop-y vibe to jokey stuff,” Tankian says. “It’s really all over the place, but it’s done in a beautiful way.”

System of a Down begin a tour in support of the two albums next month.


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