This past Friday, SYSTEM OF A DOWN released "Protect The Land" and "Genocidal Humanoidz", the band's first new songs in 15 years. The tracks were motivated by the recently erupted conflict between Artsakh and Azerbaijan, the latter aided by Turkey and accountable for the greatest violence the region has endured in 26 years. Produced by guitarist/vocalist Daron Malakian, who also wrote the music and lyrics, both songs are streaming now on all DSPs and are available for purchase on Bandcamp with band royalties earmarked for the Armenia Fund.
SYSTEM bassist Shavo Odadjian told FOX 11 's Araksya Karapetyan that the idea came together quickly when drummer John Dolmayan sent out a group text.
"He wrote and said we need to put everything behind and do something," Shavo said (see video below). "We need to be a part of this. We need to help any way we can. This, this is bigger than us, bigger than our emotions, bigger than our feelings, bigger than our egos. Let's go. And right away, Daron responded with here I have something that could save time."
Within two weeks, Malakian, Odadjian, Dolmayan and singer Serj Tankian managed to complete the two songs and a music video.
"We’ve been together as in, we've gone on tours together, played shows together, hung out together, gone to lunch, going to dinner," Shavo said. "We're friends, you know what I mean? We're all friends. It's just, we haven't been in there creatively together. So when we got in there, at first tension was a little high because we didn't know how everyone was going to be, but about five minutes into it, we were talking, laughing's talking about the song, how it's going to be, how we're going to help and what this is going to do for our people. That's the number one thing was what this is going to do to work and help out, how it's going to help our people. Because I feel like it's kind of like a Trojan horse, you know, it's like we're walking in and the world's going to listen because it's 15 years, we haven't done anything."
Tankian added: "It's about raising awareness about what's going on with the humanitarian catastrophe perpetrated by Azerbaijan and Turkey — and it's about trying to raise funds. The band is donating all of its proceeds to Armenia Fund."
The music video for "Protect The Land" incorporates recent footage of the protests and on-the-ground fighting in Artsakh, but in a very personal and aesthetic way. As he did for all previous SYSTEM OF A DOWN releases, Odadjian executive-produced the music video and curated the cover and brand art for the project.
"I wanted to show the unification of our people around the world for one common cause, illustrating the power in numbers," he said, "so we brought together people from all ages and professions who believe in and are fighting for that same cause. It's one thing to come up with an idea, but to see it come alive as happened with this video, has been just incredible."
On the recording of "Protect The Land" and "Genocidal Humanoidz", Odadjian added: "It was such a pleasure for us to be together in the studio again, very comforting and natural, like no time had passed at all."
"Protect The Land" a was originally written by Malakian for the next album by his other group, SCARS ON BROADWAY, while "Genocidal Humanoidz" was penned three or four years ago when Malakian, Dolmayan and Odadjian convened for a jam session that produced several songs, only to abandon them when Tankian wouldn't commit to an album.
Photo credit: Clemente Ruiz