Serj Tankian Disclosed that System Of A Down Held Auditions for a New Vocalist in 2018 Following His Proposal to Leave the Group

Serj Tankian

Serj Tankian disclosed that in 2018, System Of A Down initiated a search for a new lead singer after he proposed stepping down. In a portion of his new memoir, *Down With the System: A Memoir (Of Sorts)*, which was shared with Rolling Stone, Serj Tankian discussed his aversion to touring and how it led him to encourage his bandmates in System Of A Down to move forward without him so they could pursue their passion.

In his memoir, Tankian recounted a pivotal band meeting in late 2017 at their manager Beno’s office. He arrived with a specific topic to discuss, but waited through standard business conversations before introducing his point. “So, who’s going to organize my farewell party?” he jokingly asked his bandmates, adding, “Any takers for the role of host?” Despite his light tone, his intent was serious. “Look, I’ve made it clear that touring is off the table for me now, both because of my back issues and because it just doesn’t align with my goals anymore,” he explained.

Tankian continued, explaining his thoughts further. “However,” he added, “I don’t want to be the one holding you back. You’ve all dedicated your lives to this dream. You deserve to see it through.” He then addressed each of his bandmates—Daron, Shavo, and John—directly, delivering a heavy suggestion: “I think it might be time for you to look for a new singer.”

He later mentioned that initially, the band resisted this idea and soon dropped the discussion. However, at a later charity event, Tankian learned from his bandmates that they had indeed started considering potential new singers.

Tankian thought the idea of hiring a new singer had been shelved, but a surprising revelation came about a year later. At a fundraiser event in Glendale, a familiar singer delivered a captivating performance of an Armenian song. While watching, Shavo, seated next to Tankian, nudged him and casually mentioned, “By the way,” nodding towards the performer, “we gave this guy a try as our singer. The only issue was he couldn’t quite master the screaming and growling.” Tankian was caught off guard—not by the fact that they were auditioning replacements, but because they had kept it a secret.

Tankian wrote about a conversation he had with Shavo during the event: “Why didn’t you guys ever mention this to me?” he whispered. Shavo simply shrugged in response. “I don’t know.” Tankian then faced Shavo directly, “He’s talented,” he insisted. “I could take him out to the parking lot right now and teach him how to growl. You really should consider him.”

Additionally, Tankian revealed that in more recent times, he had suggested a close friend as a potential new vocalist, although he doubts the band took the suggestion seriously.

For now, it appears the band remains committed to keeping Tankian as their frontman, having significantly reduced their touring schedule. They played only one concert in 2023 and have performed just once this year as well. Their next scheduled appearance is a one-off concert with 

Deftones, The Mars Volta, and others in August, which is already sold out.

In 2020, System Of A Down released their first new music in 15 years with the double A-side single ‘Protect The Land’ and ‘Genocidal Humanoidz.’ This release was aimed at raising awareness and funds during the severe conflict between Artsakh and Azerbaijan, with all proceeds going to support humanitarian efforts in Armenia, the band’s ancestral home.

In related news, Tankian has just announced his upcoming solo EP, ‘Foundations’, marking his first new solo project since the release of ‘Perplex Cities’ in 2022.