SYSTEM OF A DOWN's SERJ TANKIAN On Lessons From COVID-19: 'We Have To Curb Our Consumption'

May 25, 2020

During a May 24 Facebook Live chat with Tumo Center For Creative Technologies, SYSTEM OF A DOWN frontman Serj Tankian spoke about the coronavirus pandemic's devastating ripple effects on the world economy, with the forced closure of all nonessential businesses in almost every state in the U.S. causing many workers unable to do their jobs.

"The lockdown's been devastating for a lot of people — workers, people with small businesses," he said (see video below). "It's been a very negative experience in a lot of ways. But it's also taught us a lot of lessons, I think. One of the things that I've been thinking about is what this means.

"I heard a commentary on the Internet — someone said nature sent us to our rooms and told us to rethink what we're doing on this planet as humanity — our consumption, the type of energy that we use, our carbon footprint on the planet," the singer, who became a New Zealand resident during the mid-2000s, continued. "I think that's the most important lesson for me from this involuntary pause. It started making me think that what we have as our benchmark for progress, for society, for civilization is unsustainable. Consistent economic growth worldwide in all of its parameters is really unsustainable, so we have to think of other benchmarks to guide us into the future. Maybe the happiness index, maybe the lifestyle index or some other index, maybe the equality index. We have to go forward a different way.

"I was talking to a friend of mine here in New Zealand, and we were discussing what 'normal' means," Tankian, who has always been outspoken with his leftist political opinions, added. "And we came up with the idea that normal is our own extinction — I mean, going back to normal is going back toward our extinction in terms of unsustainable growth, in terms of the type of lives that we all lead. And irrespective of the strength of alternative energies around the world, they cannot fully supplement fossil fuels. We have to curb our consumption. That also reflects having to do with food consumption. A large majority of carbons are created with animal husbandry. Growing animals for ingestion, for food; the amount of land that's used; the amount of water; the amount of corn and other food susbatances that are used for animals around the planet has really, really set us back in terms of what we need to meet in terms of carbon reduction deadlines in the near future."

A record 20.5 million U.S. jobs were lost in April, the steepest plunge in the country's employment since the Great Depression. The unemployment rate soared to 14.7% in April, its highest level since the Bureau of Labor Statistics started recording the monthly rate in 1948.

Earlier in the month, Tankian revealed that he will put out a solo EP of what he described as "rock songs" later this year.

Tankian told SPIN that they were first meant for SYSTEM OF A DOWN, saying: "Originally, I had these songs in mind for a SYSTEM record if we were to end up doing a SYSTEM record. But as we could not really see eye to eye on how to go forward with that, I decided to finish them off myself and release them as an EP."

Tankian said he's considering calling the EP "Elasticity", a play on SYSTEM's massive 2001 album "Toxicity".

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