Side Jams, Episode 19: Serj Tankian

My brother Eric and I saying hi to Serj after the premiere
of Prometheus Bound at Boston’s ART in 2011.

Rocker, composer, and activist Serj Tankian has always blurred the lines between the personal and political in his art, either with the multi-platinum, Grammy Award-winning metal band System Of A Down or in his subsequent solo work which includes the rock musical Prometheus Bound which he created with Tony Award-winning lyricist and playwright Steven Sater. A forthcoming documentary called Truth To Power chronicles Serj’s life journey which includes his mission to get Turkey to officially acknowledge their Armenian Genocide from over 100 years ago.

With his music and activism linked, it made sense for Serj and I to talk about the latter in this episode of Side Jams. It’s a topic that’s come out before in our past interviews for outlets like Grammy and Billboard. I called him at his home in New Zealand to discuss his activism, politics in music, mentoring younger artists, and staying motivated as he grows older. As I was editing this podcast, major protests had already been sweeping the U.S. in the wake of the death of George Floyd. Serj posted anti-Trump sentiments on his Facebook page and had no problem pushing back against some balking fans who clearly had not scrutinized his lyrical messages after all of these years.

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