System of a Down's Tankian explores new "Harmonies"
By Mitchell Peters
LOS ANGELES (Billboard) - Life after System of a Down has been pretty good for Serj Tankian.
Stepping away from the chart-topping Los Angeles-based hard rock band, which went on indefinite hiatus in 2006, the singer/songwriter/political activist launched a solo musical career with the release of 2007's "Elect the Dead." The rock-driven set debuted at No. 4 on the Billboard 200 and has sold 319,000 copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan.
In addition to touring and promoting his solo music, Tankian has spent recent years writing new songs, overseeing his label, Serjical Strike, promoting various causes, publishing books, producing albums and scoring music for films, TV and videogames -- a lifestyle he never had time for while fronting System of a Down.
"I feel like I've established myself as an artist aside from System of a Down, and I'm comfortable with that," Tankian says, noting that the group regularly receives offers to perform but that no such plans are in the works. "It's been very emancipating and confidence-building."
Now, with nearly three years under his belt as a solo artist, and amid numerous other side projects, Tankian is prepping the release of his second album, "Imperfect Harmonies," due September 21 on Serjical Strike/Reprise Records. This time around, he moves further away from the heavy-hitting sound he's become known for with SOAD and "Elect the Dead" and delves deeper into elements of electronica, orchestral music and jazz.
"In one way it's really modern, with the electronics stuff, but it's also really classical, with the legato orchestra," Tankian says. "The core of the songs are still rock-based songs with some jazz influences here and there."
It's uncertain whether Tankian's fan base, which largely consists of SOAD die-hards, will remain loyal to his evolving musical direction. So far, first single "Left of Center," which features a big rock chorus and chunky guitars, hasn't gained any traction on rock radio. "Elect the Dead" has spawned such radio successes as "Empty Walls" (which peaked at No. 3 on the Alternative chart and No. 4 on Active Rock) and "Sky Is Over" (which peaked at No. 22 on Alternative and No. 24 on Active Rock). Continued...