SYSTEM OF A DOWN frontman Serj Tankian is introducing his record label, Serjical Strike, via a showcase concert on October 8th at the Troubadour in Hollywood, California featuring performances by the singer's first three signings: BAD ACID TRIP, SLOW MOTION REIGN and KITTENS FOR CHRISTIAN. Plans are underway to release an album by each group next year, plus one by SERART, a freewheeling jazz/world music/spoken-word collaboration of Tankian and Armenian multi-instrumentalist Arto Tuncboyaciyan.
"They are original acts," Serj told the Los Angeles Times when asked to pinpoint his attraction to the bands he's signed, "and [they play] original music that I don't think would be otherwise available. I'm trying to bring original music to the forefront and expand the dynamics of music. When I go buy music, I buy a lot of different types, and I want to help enrich that angle of purchasing as a music consumer."
Serjical Strike, a joint venture with Columbia Records, started a year and a half ago as an Internet project, offering albums by BAD ACID TRIP and KITTENS FOR CHRISTIAN only through the web site (www.serjicalstrike.com) and in a handful of small, independent record stores in the L.A. area. Tankian's initial approach was modeled largely on the path taken by two other labels during their formative years: American Records, started by Rick Rubin (who originally signed and produced SYSTEM OF A DOWN) and Axiom Records, founded by eclectic producer-musician Bill Laswell.
"When I see something is from Axiom, I'm always interested to see what it is," Tankian said, adding that Laswell "has established a label identity. There are a lot of major labels out there with all these records that are not really identified with the label. And I like what Rick Rubin has done with American, where there's a variety of artists — I like that model, where it's not one genre, but where it's about really believing in these bands and not just about whether something's commercially viable."
"I haven't had a commerciality conversation with the Columbia brass," Tankian continued. "That's not what I do and they know that. With SYSTEM they took a chance and nothing was ever said about sales projections, and I've still never had that conversation with them.
"I think [Columbia] know I will bring some things in that could be ahead of trends. And I'll have some things still going through independent distribution that are better served that way. Obviously Columbia is in this to make money. But to me it's a matter of whether it's good music, and even if it's not commercially viable and Columbia ends up dropping my label in a couple of years, I'll still be happy because I brought out good music."