System of a Down's attempt at writing a new album between 2016 and 2018 ended up with the group shutting down sessions amid creative differences, but in a new interview with Q With Tom Power on Canada's CBC Radio One, singer Serj Tankian offered more insight into what exactly was at the center of their inability to complete a new record.

As most know, the creative lead in the band has often been split between Tankian and guitarist Daron Malakian. And during the chat with Power, Tankian detailed how the creative dynamic has shifted since their early years with both musicians picking up more of what the other musician had initially done.

Serj Tankian Explains System of a Down's Creative Dynamic

In speaking about his creative partner in System of a Down, Tankian called Malakian a "lifer" who is "incredibly serious about his music and he's incredibly protective of his music and vulnerable due to his music."

"I think that created some of the creative differences that we started finding. And it's also our progression," added the singer.

He explained their creative evolution, commenting, "When Daron and I started working together, I didn't really write a lot of instrumental music — I mostly wrote lyrics; I was the lyricist; I was the singer. And he didn't write any lyrics; he just wrote music. But as time progressed and I played more musical instruments and I started becoming a songwriter/composer and he started writing more lyrics, we started kind of covering each other's territory. And I was okay with that."

The Crux of System of a Down's Creative Difference

Tankian went on to explain, "If he wrote lyrics, I was trying to encourage him to write more, because I believe in artistic growth. I believe in progression. I don't believe in things staying the same way, for music's sake. Otherwise the music becomes the same thing over and over again. That progression is necessary in every artist's life or in every group's life. So I was very encouraging of that."

"I just wish that I got some of that back," says the vocalist. "And so that wasn't the case, and it was disappointing. And it became a creative difference over the band's path, and whatnot, over time."

System of a Down's Serj Tankian Speaks With Q With Tom Power

The Start and Stop

After a few years of comments by various band members about their recording future, in 2015, Tankian revealed that there actually had been talk of a new System of a Down album. Shavo Odadjian confirmed later that year that some writing had actually been done individually by band members. And by 2016, the group's members started communicating about trying to bring their ideas together.

In November 2016, drummer John Dolmayan confirmed that the group had been working on new music, but by May of 2017 there was talk of the band being disheartened by their lack of progress. In December 2017, Tankian first revealed that the group couldn't see eye to eye on how to move forward and in 2018, the new album idea broke down.

READ MORE: System of a Down Auditioned Vocalist After Serj Tankian Offered to Step Down

Both Malakian and Tankian used some of the material they had in mind for System to launch their respective records for Malakian's Scars on Broadway and Tankian's solo work.

What Daron Malakian Previously Said About System of a Down's Creative Breakdown

In a 2018 interview with Kerrang!, Malakian commented, "There's just a certain way that System make albums, and there's a bunch of us that want to make an album that way. And there is, I guess, one of us, [Serj], that doesn't want to make an album that way and wants to make an album his way, and not everyone is on board with that."

"We've all sat down and we've had meetings, and he's totally set in his way of thinking," he later added.

Tankian, in a separate statement in response to Malakian's Kerrang! interview, explained, "Ultimately I had to draw a line in the sand because I knew I could never be happy going back to how things used to be within the band. And as we couldn’t see eye to eye on all these points we decided to put aside the idea of a record altogether for the time being."

He then added, "My only regret is that we have been collectively unable to give you another SOAD record. For that I apologize."

System of a Down in 2024

System of a Down recently headlined the Sick New World festival in Las Vegas and have one other show on the books for 2024. That would be another one-off performance at San Francisco's Golden Gate Park on Aug. 17 with co-headliners Deftones, along with The Mars Volta, Viagra Boys and VOWWS.

Tankian, meanwhile, is currently promoting his new memoir, "Down With the System."

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Gallery Credit: Lauryn Schaffner

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