In a new interview with NME, SYSTEM OF A DOWN frontman Serj Tankian, who was publicly critical of the Donald Trump administration, was asked if he is feeling "hopeful" about the Joe Biden presidency. He responded (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "I think the word is 'relief' more than 'hopeful.' With Trump gone and Biden in, I think there was a sense of relief that we all sighed — not just in the U.S. but around the world, because U.S. policy affects the rest of the world more than any other country in the world. And the president way too much power in terms of foreign policy — more than domestic policy, because Congress will hamper him on domestic policy. A U.S. president has way too much power in terms of foreign affairs, so it affects the rest of the world greatly. So I think the whole world felt a bit of a relief that Trump was gone and someone more of an adult was now in power."
He continued: "Does it go far enough for me as an activist in terms of my wishes for pushing the envelope on lifestyle changes having to do with climate change? Does it go far enough in terms of my wishes of wealth distribution or free tuition and free health care in the U.S. I would like to see all those things coming to fruition. Hopefully Biden's administration opens the doors to some of those ideas that Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren and some other progressives were pushing for. So, personally, it's kind of middle of the road for me, but compared to the chaotic policies of whatever the Trump administration was called, lacking three-quarters of the staff that actually does the work, it's great."
Serj also talked about his relationship with SYSTEM OF A DOWN drummer John Dolmayan, who made headlines last year when he praised Trump and accused Democrats of "demonizing" the real estate mogul and "blaming him for everything under the sun."
"A good band always has a lot of dynamics, whether it's political differences or ideas, which kind of just became pronounced with John and I in the last year or whatever, with the whole Trump re-election campaign," Tankian said. "But that wasn't really that much of an issue with American politics before with the band. It's a new phenomena, really, if you will. But John's my brother-in-law as well as my bandmember, so find someone who doesn't have a brother-in-law with a different political [perspective].
"It's really interesting, because some of the most amazing bands — the bands that create the most elastic and interesting music — are ones that have very interesting, weird dynamics, differences between bandmembers," he explained. "So I wouldn't change that. I wouldn't change that in the least bit. Better than four or five people making what I call corporate music, which is we agree on everything, we wanna maximize our returns and let's put out music every year and let's tour every year and let's do this because we're Pepsi or whatever. We're not. SYSTEM OF A DOWN has never been that. We're punk rock. And it works great when we're working together, but sometimes we're not working together. So be it."
Last September, Dolmayan defended his reasons for voicing his political views that are ideologically opposed to those of Tankian, telling the "Deviant Gentlemen" podcast: "SYSTEM OF A DOWN has a legacy of being left-leaning, which isn't always the case. Serj, of course, is responsible for the lyrics, but they didn't always represent the band in the way that we maybe wanted [them] to. There's four individuals in the band. I don't speak for any of the individuals except for myself, and neither does Serj. But because he had that platform of writing lyrics, the perception was out there that that's how the band felt at all times, where I don't even think Serj necessarily felt those ways at all times. You're supposed to have diversity of opinion even within your own mind, and you should judge things based on information that's presented to you.
"If you're a SYSTEM fan and you gravitate towards the music, you enjoy the music, but you don't necessarily agree with the perceived message, well, where do you go?" he continued. "If you think that Serj is the mouthpiece of the band, which he is, as far as vocally, but not necessarily for ideology, then you have nowhere to go. So I wanted to present a different view and to give kids out there who think differently and who are critical thinkers, not necessarily following the norm, that there is a different option, you can think differently, it's okay to have diversity of opinion, as long as it's done peaceably."
Asked if he has been approached by anybody in the music industry and told to tone down his political rhetoric on social media, John said: "No. My manager, he was just, like, 'Look, maybe you guys are going a little too far' — for both Serj and I. And we did have a private text conversation between me, [our manager] and Serj. And again, I think Serj views himself in a way where he's really doing the right thing. And he really does care about people. And he does a lot for individuals and our nation as well. He's really trying to help people, Serj. I believe he's a good person, inherently. But again, it's that moral high ground that they think they're on — that perceived moral high ground. It kind of blinds them to being open about ideas they might be wrong on."
In early 2020, Dolmayan supported Trump's claim that his administration had done more for the African-American community "than any president since Abraham Lincoln." Meanwhile, Tankian had called for Trump to resign and described him as "completely useless" over his handling of the coronavirus outbreak.