SERJ TANKIAN Continues Criticizing IMAGINE DRAGONS For Playing Concert In Azerbaijan

July 5, 2024

SYSTEM OF A DOWN vocalist Serj Tankian has responded to IMAGINE DRAGONS frontman Dan Reynolds's defense of the latter band's decision to perform in Azerbaijan.

Last month, Tankian called out IMAGINE DRAGONS for their concert in Azerbaijan, saying he doesn't "respect them as human beings".

The American pop-rock band performed in the country's capital city, Baku, last September, which some perceived as being an endorsement of Azerbeijan's authoritarian president, Ilham Aliyev.

Prior to IMAGINE DRAGONS' September 2, 2023 gig in Baku, Tankian, who is Armenian-American, wrote a "kind" personal letter to the band asking them to pull out of the Baku Olympic Stadium show, explaining that going ahead with the gig would help to "whitewash the dictatorial regime's image".

"I really feel that performing in Azerbaijan would have a negative impact on your brand as well," his letter added, also citing an Associated Press news report which stated that the country was preparing genocide against ethnic Armenians in its Nagorno-Karabakh region. "I'm confident that you can decipher all the facts for yourselves to decide whether to cancel your concert."

After the show went ahead, Tankian told Metal Hammer: "I don't respect them [IMAGINE DRAGONS] as human beings.

"Fuck their art, they're not good human beings as far as I'm concerned."

Reynolds responded to Tankian's criticism in a recent Rolling Stone feature.

"I don't believe in depriving our fans who want to see us play because of the acts of their leaders and their governments," Dan said. "I think that's a really slippery slope. I think the second you start to do that, there's corrupt leaders and warmongers all over the world, and where do you draw the line?"

When Rolling Stone writer Andy Greene brought up Tankian's comments specifically, Reynolds simply restated his position: "I think I just said it. It's a slippery slope, and I'm never going to deprive our fans of playing for them."

On Thursday night (July 4),Tankian took to his social media to issue a response to Reynolds's comments. After quoting the IMAGINE DRAGONS singer's rhetorical question, Tankian wrote: "Respectfully, I draw the line at ethnic cleansing and genocide."

He continued: "Azerbaijan's dictatorship with popular support was already into a 9 month starvation blockade of Nagorno-Karabagh qualified as Genocide by former [International Criminal Court] prosecutor [Luis Moreno Ocampo] when they [IMAGINE DRAGONS] decided to play Baku.

"Would they play in Nazi Germany? Why don't they want to play in Russia? Because it's not popular?

"They support Ukraine but not Armenians of Artsakh?

"The only 'slippery slope' is the farce moral equivalency at the heart of this hypocritical attitude."

Tankian added: "I have nothing against this guy nor his band. I just hate artists being taken advantage of to whitewash Genocidal dictatorships."

Tankian released a memoir, "Down With The System", on May 14 via Hachette Books.

IMAGINE DRAGONS issued a new album, "Loom", on June 28 via Interscope.

Dan Reynolds stated: “I don’t believe in depriving our fans who want to see us play because of the acts of their leaders...

Posted by Serj Tankian on Thursday, July 4, 2024

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