Steve Dallaire of the Canadian blog Boulevard Brutal recently conducted an interview with SYSTEM OF A DOWN bassist Shavo Odadjian. You can now listen to the chat using the audio player below. A couple of excerpts follow.
On how the SYSTEM OF A DOWN "reunion" came about:
Shavo: "Well, it was not really a reunion. We never said we were broken up; we were on a hiatus. We shouldn't have even said anything [about taking a break]. There's a lot of bands that don't release an album every year. There's a lot of bands that take three, four or five years off here and there, but they don't say 'hiatus,' so no one really notices it. They just anticipate the next record. Well, we just mentioned it, we said it, so it seemed like a breakup, but it really wasn't. It was just that we wanted to do something different for awhile and then come back and hang out again and be friends again. And that's all it was, really. There's a lot of misconception. That's why I get tired of the 'come-back-together' Twitters I get and messages I get. Because we are together. Like, enough with it. We're just not making an album right now — that's all. That doesn't mean we're broken up. Just because we're making other albums with other people doesn't mean that we're broken up. We've been a band since 1993. I don't think we're ever gonna be broken up. [laughs] Whatever happens, we're always gonna be together. We can go [for five years without doing anything with the band] and then come back and play shows and maybe make a record, maybe not — who knows? Maybe make ten records. Maybe tour for five years. I don't know. I'm just saying we're just good friends that are in a band together, and we've grown to a level where we now wanna do whatever we wanna do. And I hope everybody understands that. But we'll never break up. . . I'm one of the most, like, 'wanting-to-tour' guys in the band. Actually, the three of us [Shavo, guitarist Daron Malakian and drummer John Dolmayan] really wanna tour a lot more and do a lot more. [But] Serj [Tankian, vocals] has got a lot on his plate right now, which is cool."
On the criticism that has been leveled at SYSTEM OF A DOWN producer Rick Rubin by some other bands for allegedly not spending enough time with the artists in the studio and letting the engineer do all the work:
Shavo: "Whoever talks shit and says bad things about [Rick Rubin] needs help [in the studio], needs someone who's gonna be there telling them what to do. But if a band is good and they already have the material, all a producer [has to do] is get more out of them or give them a little bit of a recharge or give them a little hint of, like, 'Do this eight times, do that four times, rearrange a couple of things' — not really have to write songs for the group. Rick Rubin has ears, so when he hears this part, he says 'Double that part.' That's a real producer — someone that is listening to the music and making it better. That's what a producer does — make it better; help make the song better and make the band better. Not write music for the band or tell a band what to do. And Rick Rubin doesn't tell you what to do; that's why some people don't like him. They think that a producer has to come in and be like, 'Do this, do that.' If you've already got it, why have someone come and tell you that? That's my view it. I think he's a great producer, since he doesn't tell you what to do. He hears things and we'll talk about it and we'll try it, of course — all of us could have ideas — and try it. And if it works, beautiful; and if it doesn't, then we don't do it. Period."
On whether he would consider using Rick Rubin again for the next SYSTEM OF A DOWN album:
Shavo: "I definitely think so, but I couldn't say that, 'cause [I can't speak for] every bandmember. But, of course, I would. And I don't see how we wouldn't. He's produced every record, you know. He's part of the whole SYSTEM OF A DOWN recording adventure. Rick has always been there, so I don't see us being really comfortable without Rick there."
Dolmayan previously told Straight.com about SYSTEM OF A DOWN's five-year hiatus, "I personally don't like breaks — I like to continue playing. But it was nice to go off and be John Dolmayan, as opposed to John from SYSTEM, for a while. I think everybody had similar feelings."
The drummer explained that a desire to pull off the road for a while and reconnect with their lives is what led SYSTEM to take an extended vacation from each other, saying, "When you're on the road and in the studio all the time, it's kind of like traveling at light speed. When you come back, it's like 20 years have passed by, and you're only one or two hours older . . . You're living a nomadic life, and you lose touch with people because they have grown away from you. People get older, get married, die — life is still going on."