Scars on Broadway на Wide-Eyed

Scars on Broadway на Wide-Eyed

Scars On BroadwayWhen System of a Down went on indefinite hiatus in 2006, vocalist / guitarist / songwriter Daron Malakian and drummer John Dolmayan surrounded themselves with what they each love most. For Malakian that meant relentlessly writing songs, continuing the ponderously prolific streak he started on SOAD’s double-disc finale Mesmerize/Hypnotize. For Dolmayan it meant creating his own online comic book superstore, Torpedo Comics, so his collection could swell into the millions. Soon their separate stories crossed again, as the songs Malakian wrote for his long-rumored, less-metal, more-rock-oriented new band Scars on Broadway soon reached a critical mass. After trying out various versions of Scars, he eventually re-recruited his old friend and bandmate to bang out Scars’ far-reaching rhythms. Together again the duo recorded Scars on Broadway’s self-titled debut last fall, releasing the Malakian-produced set this summer after playing their first two gigs with their live lineup at Whiskey A Go Go and Coachella this spring. Right around the record’s release, Wide-Eyed got to look deeper into each of Scars’ stars separately, first talking with Dolmayan about the dominance of “The Dark Knight” and other comic book movies at the box office and how the drums will always remain a part of his life before later discussing with Malakian what makes Scars different from anything they’ve done before, why songwriting means so much to him and the possible future of SOAD.

Wide-Eyed: Having worked so much with Scars on Broadway now and before that working on (SOAD vocalist) Serj Tankian’s album (last year’s Elect The Dead), does it feel like you’ve had the kind of break that you wanted to be able to do things with Torpedo Comics or just for yourself that you wanted when System went on hiatus?

John Dolmayan: You know what, I had six months off with the exception of playing on Serj’s album, which only took me a day, and that was a pretty good amount of time off. After we’re done touring this album I’ll probably get another three or four months off, and that’s all you need. You don’t need a year or two years off, in my opinion, unless you have a family. It would be different if I had kids and a wife, but see I don’t have those things. To me, my kids and my wife are my music.

Wide-Eyed: I know you’ve done a handful of shows already, and that your second show was Coachella. How does it feel to be re-entering music with a new band but at that high level already?

John Dolmayan: It’s nice to start over, but of course we’re not really a new band. Scars on Broadway is new, but we’ve been around the block for a little while now. You can’t discount the effect that System had on our careers and our lives, and we definitely benefit from that, but we’re doing the best we can not to use System to propel Scars. We really want it to be based on the music and we want it to be based on our live show and let people make the determination on whether they like it because it’s good or bad for them, not because of what we’ve done in the past.

Wide-Eyed: What’s it been like working on the live show with the three other new members of the band? Have they helped make this feel more like a new experience for you and Daron?

JD: They’re great, man. They’re good guys, great musicians, and they’ve got a fire also because they haven’t been there before. They haven’t accomplished the things that Daron and I have accomplished, so they’ve got that fire in them and we’re feeding off some of those flames. It’s kind of like being on a football team and you’re the veteran and the rookies come in and they’ve got all this fucking fire and it just gives you that energy also.

Wide-Eyed: Having listened to the album I definitely hear how Scars has just as much energy as anything you’ve ever done. When you listen to it, does it have the kind of energy that you think it should have?

JD: Well wait until you see us live. The album doesn’t compare to the live show and it shouldn’t. There shouldn’t be a single band that sounds better on album than they do live. You should be able to kill it live way more than you do on the album. Definitely we’re a live band; we’ve got a power to us. You’ll see it {laughs}.

Wide-Eyed: Getting so much out of playing live, what was it like for you to just go into the studio for a day with Serj?

John Dolmayan: I mean that’s what he needed help with. I made the offer to all three guys when we took our hiatus, I said, ‘Look, if you guys need any help, either with my drumming, or if you need advice, whatever it is, my time is always there for you,’ and that’s what he wanted. He wanted me to come in and play three or four songs, and to be honest with you, it doesn’t take me a week to record three or four songs. A good drummer should be able to do that in a day. I mean, I recorded forty songs for Toxicity in six days or eight days, whatever it was. If you’re not prepared before you go into the studio, don’t go into the studio.

Wide-Eyed: Since you are such a big comic book fan, what super hero duo or comic book could you compare you and Daron to?

John Dolmayan: Fuck, I don’t know {laughs}. I’m thinking of duos and there aren’t a lot of duos. Umm, I guess Hawk and Dove would represent us OK, because I’m more of like the brute force kind of guy and Daron is more artistic and eloquent. I guess that would describe us pretty well.

Wide-Eyed: I was thinking something old school like maybe Power Man and Iron Fist.

John Dolmayan: Well, Hawk and Dove is from the ‘60s. They’re older than Power Man and Iron Fist (which is from the ‘70s). C’mon, man, do your research! {Laughs}

Wide-Eyed: I don’t think I can quite match your comic book expertise.

John Dolmayan: Well, you don’t want to; I’m a power nerd. {Laughs} I have my power nerd official insignia.

Wide-Eyed: Daron, you first talked about having another project like Scars on Broadway as far back as 2005. Has this been something that you wanted to do personally for a long time?

Daron Malakian: I think it was more based on knowing that, like for example I knew Serj wanted to do a solo project and go off and do stuff on his own, so I kind of knew I needed to find a new home for my songs and find a new path. I knew that was going to happen at that time and that’s how I came up with doing Scars at that time, just based on knowing that System was not going to be, for the time being, I guess. I had to have a place to take my songs.

Wide-Eyed: I was hooked by the first two songs on the album, “Serious” and “Funny,” just in their titles alone they show the kind of contrast you have in your songwriting. How important is having humor or levity in your songwriting, even when things are getting really heavy?

DM: It’s very important. I’ve always felt that, even with System sometimes when things would get too heavily political I’d try to come in and spice it up with something like say ‘Sugar,’ [Laughs] or something a little bit lighter, and I think it’s important to have that medium and to balance it and not to always be serious, because that annoys me. When it’s always serious, that’s not how I feel. There are moments when I’m on the light side and I’m not so serious. There are moments where I like writing about personal things. There are moments where I like writing about social commentary and sometimes politics get involved, but I don’t want to put a limit or a wall in front of what I can write about. I think it’s important to balance it out with some humor sometimes.

WE: You’ve described Scars on Broadway’s songs as more song-driven than SOAD and more rock than metal. Do you think you got burnt out on playing metal?

DM: I just want to grow. I don’t want to keep doing the same thing and I never will keep doing the same thing. Whether this was a Scars record or a System record, I think I was going to take things in the direction that’s the direction that you hear. So that’s just me evolving as a writer. If it felt right for me to write more metal right now, then Scars would be more metal. Where I’m at right now as a writer is that I want to let some of my early punk rock stuff bleed out, I want some of my ‘60s psychedelic stuff to bleed out, those sort of harmonies, and a lot of the music that I’m into that is not metal, and I want to let some of that shine.

Wide-Eyed: Does it help having somebody as strong behind the drums as John is to help you be so diverse in your songwriting? DM: Well John plays for the song and he doesn’t play any busier than he has to. You find that sometimes with drummers; they’ll overplay the songs. One thing that’s great about John’s playing is that he plays for the song and is not trying to flash his fills or anything, although he’s capable of it, but he knows how to hold back, and that’s kind of what I was looking for in a drummer with Scars because I think these songs are a little bit more straightforward and call for more simplicity. I tried a few drummers before John and it just didn’t work out the same way. So I called up John and we played the songs together and we both really liked how it was sounding. That’s kind of how it all started.

Wide-Eyed: In a lot of your songs you sing about just how hard it is to remain sane with the way the world is going today, (“Insane,” “World Long Gone”). Has songwriting helped you stay sane?

DM: Well, yeah. Not just now, but through my whole life. If I didn’t have that outlet, I don’t know what I would do. I think there is a world out there and there’s a lot of tension within that world and I like to touch on that with my lyrics, but at the same time, I like to bring it down to how does that tension affect the simple one person guy who probably is not even that involved with what’s going on. When it comes to his everyday life, he gets up and goes to work and he doesn’t really know what’s going on on the other side of the world, he doesn’t really know what’s going on anywhere except in his life, but it’s still a part of him. That’s what the song ‘World Long Gone’ is about. Maybe I don’t know how many people are starving in this world, maybe I’m not that involved in going out protesting or marching or reading up on politics, but I’m still involved in it because I’m still a person here and it still affects me one way or the other.

Wide-Eyed: How much do you think all the different forms of communication and media that we have permeating our lives right now are to blame for so many people feeling crazy or frustrated and depressed?

DM: Maybe I seem frustrated because of the way I sing it, but I don’t see it as frustrating. I just see it as what it is and I just commentate on it. I make commentaries. I’m not for or against any of these things. I own a lot of these things, trinkets, computers and Blackberries and i-Pods. But everything I’m singing about, it’s not like I’m telling someone don’t do this, because I’m doing it. It’s what life has become, and I’m just making a commentary on life.

Wide-Eyed: So since you are making commentaries with you songs, particularly ending the album with a song like “They Say,” do you have hope on the horizon for anything you’d like to see change?

DM: Things are going to change whether I like it or not, or whether you like it or not. I don’t know how they’re going to change everyday. Something spontaneous could happen next week and it could change our whole world, like 9/11. We were going about, living our lives, everything was cool, everyone was traveling, and everyone was fine. One day you woke up in the morning and those planes hit those buildings. The whole world changed from that time. And it’s gonna change whether we like it or not; it’s changing as we speak. I have nothing against the change. I’m actually curious to see where the change leads us, but sometimes I feel like some people are blind and they aren’t really paying attention to the change and that’s when it can possibly get frustrating or possibly get to a point where people won’t know how to handle change because it comes at you like a surprise. So if you’re expecting change, you’re kind of ready for it. I don’t know. When it comes to hope or anything like that, I don’t really have that. It’s not that I don’t have it; it’s just not what I’m focused on.

WE: Do you see yourself as a musician, serving as a reflection of that coming or constant change?

DM: For me it’s all reflection. It has nothing to do with personal beliefs or anything like that or I’m against this one organization. It’s just all reflection.

WE: You’ve said publicly before how you will probably put out another Scars on Broadway album before another SOAD album. Do you want to give Scars more time to grow into what it’s going to become?

DM: Yes. Nobody in System talks about getting together and doing a System album. It’s not just me. It’s not like I’m the guy that has that in his hands to control. It’s not like, ‘Well Daron said he doesn’t want to do another System album yet, so…’ It doesn’t work that way. System consists of three other people aside from me, so when the time is right to do that, whenever that is, I think it will be later in the future than sooner. It’s just we’re putting so much effort into Scars and we have a new label and we have new band members, we’ve put so much work into this it would feel like the wrong move to turn back now and just leave this be. {Laughs} We don’t sit there and talk about a timeline for this band, because it could be for the next ten years; we don’t know. We’re taking it as it comes.

by Eric Mitts
September 2008 — Issue No.6

06.10.2008 Рубрики: Interviews

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