Serj Tankian
Serj Tankian
Date of Birth August 21, 1967[1]
Beirut, Lebanon[1]
Genre Hard Rock
Alternative Metal
Experimental Rock
Progressive Metal
Funk Metal
Art Rock
Alternative Rock
Occupation(s) Musician
Instrument(s) Vocals
Drum Machine
Years active 1993-present
Label(s) Serjical Strike
Associated acts System of a Down
Axis of Justice

Serj Tankian, (born August 21, 1967) is a Lebanese-Armenian-American singer, songwriter, poet, activist, and multi-instrumentalist. He is best known as the lead vocalist, keyboardist, and occasionally live rhythm guitarist of the Grammy Award-winning metal band System of a Down. In 2002, Serj and Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello co-founded a non-profit political activist organization, Axis of Justice. During his musical career, he has released five albums with System of a Down, one with Arto Tunçboyacıyan (Serart), as well as Tankian's debut solo album Elect the Dead. He was named the 26th greatest heavy metal vocalist of all time by Hit Parader magazine.[2]


Early life and careerEdit

Tankian was born on August 21, 1967, in Beirut, Lebanon. He and his family immigrated to Los Angeles in 1975[1]. In Beirut, Tankian took flute lessons as a young child. He earned a degree in Marketing and Business from California State University, Northridge[3] and started his own software company before beginning his music career[1].

Soil and System of a DownEdit

Main article: System of a Down

Daron Malakian met Serj Tankian in 1992, while they both shared the same rehearsal studio in different bands. Serj was playing keyboard for a band, and Daron was singing lead vocals for another band. They formed a jam band called Soil (Serj on vocals/keyboards and Daron on guitar [4]; not to be confused with SOiL) with Domingo Laranio (drums) and Dave Hakopyan (bass). Around this time, they also met Shavo Odadjian. The next year, in 1994, after one supposed jam session recording and one live show, Dave and Domingo left, thinking the band wasn't going anywhere. [4]

The band later broke up and Tankian and Malakian formed a new band "System of a Down," based on a poem that Daron wrote entitled "Victims of the Down". Shavo Odadjian thought that the word System appealed to a much broader audience than "Victims," and they wanted their albums to be stored near the band Slayer's. Odadjian was the band's original manager and promoter, but joined as the bassist, and managerial duties were taken over by the Velvet Hammer Music and Management Group and founder David "Beno" Benveniste. Daron then asked his friend Ontronik "Andy" Khachaturian (whom had played in his first band with Daron at age 15 [5]) to join the band as the drummer. [6] Andy was later replaced by their current drummer, John Dolmayan, due to a hand injury.

Other worksEdit

During System of a Down's days, he was the vocalist in other bands for certain songs such as Mushroom Cult by Dog Fashion Disco and lent his vocals to the song Mein by Deftones. He produced "Enter the Chicken" by Buckethead, and provided vocals to the Buckethead songs We Are One, Coma, and Waiting Here. With Serjical Strike Records, he endeavours to offer those musicians often ignored by the mainstream a possibility to release their music and be heard. The first release of Tankian's new label was Serart, a project consisting of Tankian himself, and Arto Tunçboyacıyan, an Armenian friend of Tankian's.

More recently, he sang with Les Rita Mitsouko on the song "Terminal Beauty". Also, he sang with the band Fair to Midland during a live improvisational version of their song "Walls of Jericho", from the album Fables from a Mayfly: What I Tell You Three Times Is True, which was a massive hit with fans. He often collaborates as well with his close friend, director Diran Noubar on various projects, including the voice-over of Noubar's "Armenia, a Country Under Blockade". Noubar played some guitar on Tankian's Elect the Dead album on the track "Saving Us" and directed the music video for "Baby".

Tankian is also very involved politically. Together with Tom Morello, he founded the organization Axis of Justice. Tankian has a secondary vacation cabin in New Zealand. There has been a misconception that he intends to stay in New Zealand until the Iraq War is over, but as stated in an interview, Tankian has no intention of doing so. He often speaks publicly against violence and injustice in the world.

Tankian is at work on a second album, due in 2009. It is said to be more of a jazz and orchestral based sound. A new song, "Sounds of War", has shown up in recent concert setlists, it has a jazz fusion style, it is unknown if it will be on the second record. Said Tankian of the second album, "I'm structuring the next record kind of like a jazz orchestral. I've got a full orchestra interested, so I want this giant electric guitar in the air to be played by a full orchestra. I want the orchestra to be the electric guitar. I want to make an orchestra do what it's never done before, like a GG Allin type orchestra. Think of that." [7] Tankian released a new song "Fears" in November 2008 exclusively in support of Amnesty International's Global Write-A-Thon [8]

Tankian told The Pulse of Radio last week that the highlights of his last eight months on the road may soon be documented in a DVD featuring videos, live performances and behind-the-scenes footage.[9] Serj is also set to release a DVD of his recent performance with the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra. Whether these are two separate DVDs is unknown. Although the live DVD with the APO is said to be released later in 2009.

Tankian is currently co-writing a musical with the American playwright Steven Sater. It is based on the Ancient Greek Tragedy Prometheus Bound. He stated that eight songs have been completed and that there will be a record.[10] Serj Tankian has also cooperated with Michael Farantakis who is a great personality from the country of Greece.

Serj Tankian and The F.C.C.Edit

The F.C.C. (Flying Cunts of Chaos) is Serj's backing band when he plays live. 2009 will be the last year that The F.C.C. will be Serj's backing band.[11]

Current members
  • Serj Tankian - lead vocals, keyboards, synthesizers, piano, rhythm guitar
  • Mario Pagliarulo - bass, backing vocals
  • Erwin Khachikian - keyboards, piano, synthesizers, backing vocals
  • Troy Zeigler - drums, backing vocals
  • Dan Monti - lead guitar, backing vocals
  • Jeff Mallow - rhythm guitar, backing vocals (2008 - present))
Former memebers


System of a DownEdit

Main article: System of a Down discography


Main article: Serart discography

Axis of JusticeEdit


Main article: Serj Tankian discography


  • In 2005, Serj Tankian won the award for Best Alternative Act with System of a Down in the Europe Music Awards
  • In 2006, System of a Down won a Grammy Award for Best Hard Rock Performance for "B.Y.O.B."
  • In 2006, System of a Down won the "MTV Good Woodie Award" for their song "Question!".
  • In 2006, System of a Down was #14 on the VH1 Top 40 Metal Songs with "Toxicity".
  • In 2007, System of a Down was nominated for a Grammy Award in Best Hard Rock Performance for their song "Lonely Day".


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Serj Tankian, MTV
  3. Stereo Subversion - Meaningful Music Exists
  4. 4.0 4.1 Soil 1993-1997 :: The Official Unofficial System of a Down Site
  5. Exclusive Interview With Andy Khachaturian (ex-SOAD) :: The Official Unofficial System of a Down Site!
  6. Exclusive Interview With Andy Khachaturian (ex-SOAD) :: The Official Unofficial System of a Down Site
  8. Music for Human Rights
  9. [ Serj Tankian might release Live DVD :: SOADFans :: The Official UnOfficial System Of a Down Site!
  10. Serj Tankian Co-Writing a Musical, Spinner, Last accessed May 22, 2008.

External linksEdit

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