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Serj Tankian Says System of a Down Bandmate Daron Malakian First Turned Him on to Metal

Serj Tankian
Hannah Johnston, Getty Images

Through much of the last two decade Serj Tankian has carving out his place in the hard rock and metal worlds as a member of System of a Down. But the hard-hitting pace wasn’t always his first love.

Tankian tells, “I actually didn’t grow up on that kind of music. The first type of music I was exposed to was cultural Armenian music. My parents were both in this cultural institution where my mom would dance and my dad would sing. I was also exposed to Arabic music as a child and French music because we lived in Lebanon and that used to be an old French colony.”

Serj’s music education grew significantly when his family moved to the U.S. He recalls, “When we moved to the States in the ’70s, I started listening to the Bee Gees and a lot of the disco stuff you heard on the radio at the time. I also remember playing a lot of soul music too. When the ’80s came around, I really got into the goth and punk scenes. I didn’t get into heavy metal till the late ’80s, early ’90s.”

The singer says it was guitarist Daron Malakian that was the lifelong metal fan in the band that started to turn him on to the sound. “He loved KISS, and bands like that, growing up,” says Tankian of his System cohort. “I have never considered myself a metal guy.”

Tankian says he’s still finding new musical loves, and his current favorite style is classical. He clarifies that he’s not talking about Beethoven-like classical, but rather music and soundtrack scores that make him feel like he’s driving around inside of a movie.

The singer’s eclectic background is clearly continuing to influence him, as he recently revealed that there are jazz, electronic, and symphonic discs in the works to go along with his upcoming solo record, ‘Harakiri.’ Look for Serj Tankian’s ‘Harakiri’ July 10, followed by his return to System of a Down for late summer shows, and his wealth of non-rock projects to follow.

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