SERJ TANKIAN Says Seeing IRON MAIDEN In 1984 Was One Of 'Most Impactful' Concerts He Ever Attended As A Fan

May 29, 2024

In a new interview with Monsters, Madness And Magic, SYSTEM OF A DOWN singer Serj Tankian was asked to name some of the "most impactful" live shows that he has seen as a fan. He responded (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "Well, there's a few. The first one that I ever saw, my first rock show I ever saw was IRON MAIDEN in 1984, I'd like to say — 1984, maybe. My girlfriend at the time was a huge MAIDEN fan and I, at the time, didn't even listen to much rock music. I hadn't even smoked pot. It was the first time I started smelling pot outside. I was a 4.0 good kid in school. So that was impactful for me because of the timing more than anything. And you'll hear those kind of horses galloping within SYSTEM's music that's influenced by MAIDEN as well; everyone in rock has been influenced by MAIDEN. Roger Waters [PINK FLOYD], seeing him do the whole 'Wall' [album] more recently — like maybe 10, 15 years ago, 10 years ago, maybe. That was incredible, just the performative aspect of it. The whole theatrical aspect of it was incredible. But I had seen PINK FLOYD way, way before as well — the flying pig. Just so many. I can't even think now."

Tankian previously reflected on his introduction to MAIDEN in a 2012 interview with The A.V. Club. At the time, he said: "[The first concert I attended was in] 1984, IRON MAIDEN, at Irvine [Meadows] Amphitheater, which is now the Verizon [Wireless] Amphitheater in Orange County, California. I went with my girlfriend at the time. She took me, actually. She was an IRON MAIDEN fan."

He continued: "I thought it was one of the craziest things I'd ever seen. [Laughs] I'm, like, 'This is madness! What is this? Everyone, hide!' At the time, I wasn't actually a metal fan at all. I thought, 'Wow, this is really noisy music, I don't get it.' To be completely honest, I wasn't in love with it. And now I'm a huge IRON MAIDEN fan, and I know Bruce Dickinson and see the guys on tour and whatnot. But time changes. It's interesting. But at the time, I wasn't a metal or even a rock fan, to be honest."

Asked what he was into back in 1984, Serj said: "I was into different types of music, but I didn't really go to shows. I think over time, the exposure to rock and metal obviously changed my mind. And it's funny, years ago I saw that ex-girlfriend. She was my first girlfriend, like, my high-school love and stuff. Years ago, I saw her and she was like, 'Do you remember IRON MAIDEN?' And I'm, like, 'Shut up.' [Laughs] She's, like, 'You didn't really like it at the time and now everyone knows you're the metal singer — how funny.' I'm, like, 'Life is funny, you know. It's true.' That's how life is."

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

Tankian is best known as the lead singer of the Grammy Award-winning rock band SYSTEM OF A DOWN, but he is also a solo artist, composer, activist, painter, poet, and filmmaker. Since launching on to the rock scene in 1993, he's performed for millions of fans and sold more than 42 million albums worldwide. He's also a proud Armenian-American and a dedicated activist; along with Tom Morello, Tankian co-founded the non-profit organization Axis Of Justice, which strived to bring together musicians, music fans, and grassroots political organizations to fight for social justice. He has composed scores for many films and television series, had his paintings exhibited in galleries in the U.S. and New Zealand, and released two books of his own poetry. He has also been an executive producer on multiple documentaries, including "I Am Not Alone", which tells the story of Armenia's 2018 revolution and which won awards at the Toronto International Film Festival, DOC NYC, American Film Institute Festival, and the Palm Springs International Film Festival, among others. Tankian lives with his wife and his son, splitting their time between Los Angeles and New Zealand.

SYSTEM OF A DOWN has toured intermittently since ending its hiatus in 2011, but has only managed to record two songs in the last 19 years, "Protect The Land" and "Genocidal Humanoidz". Released in November 2020, the tracks were motivated by the conflict between Artsakh and Azerbaijan, with all proceeds supporting humanitarian efforts in SYSTEM OF A DOWN's ancestral homeland of Armenia. Along with other donations from fans on their social pages, they raised over $600,000.

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