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See System of a Down Guitarist Talk Songwriting, Play Greatest Riffs

Daron Malakian plays “Aerials,” “Chop Suey!” and others as he explains the theories behind how he writes songs

System of a Down guitarist Daron Malakian, who also fronts the side project Scars on Broadway, recently revisited his past in an interview where he broke apart some of the band’s biggest hits and recounted his history with music. “I started collecting records when I was maybe 4,” he says in the clip, part of Ernie Ball’s String Theory series. “I would always drag my mom to the record store. I don’t think I picked music. Music kind of picked me. I don’t remember a time in my life when I wasn’t interested in music.”

In the 20-minute clip, he discusses how his tastes started with heavy-metal acts like Black Sabbath and Slayer and grew to include artists the Beatles, Davie Bowie and Neil Young. He also explained the theory behind how he writes songs. “I tend to look at music like how an artist looks at colors,” he explains. “I don’t ever say it only has to be heavy metal. That’s why the music I write with System or even with Scars, it’s diverse. Even in one song, it will have a heavy-metal part and then it will go into a whole different type of thing because I’m not afraid to use different colors, different moods. There’s sometimes humor in my writing.”

Through it all, he plays the riffs to some of his greatest hits, including System of a Down’s “Aerials,” “Suite-Pee” and “Chop Suey!” as well as Scars on Broadway’s “Guns Are Loaded” and “Angry Guru,” without his bandmates. It gives guitar fans a closer look at what he does on the instrument.

Earlier this year, Malakian issued Dictator, his first solo music in eight years. He told Rolling Stone at the time that he had been holding onto the songs with the hopes of turning them into System of a Down songs. When he realized the band wouldn’t be able to agree on how to work on them, he decided to put out the material himself under the Scars on Broadway moniker. “I just got to the point now where a lot of people were asking about the Scars album — I hear it all the time — so I was like, ‘I’m gonna put this album out,'” he said. “Not knowing what’s happening with System has kept me from putting my own stuff out. Too much time has passed, and I’m really excited to finally get some music out finally.”

In This Article: System of a Down

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