Music Updates

Serj Tankian on Watching ‘I Am Not Alone’ In Light of Armenia’s Current Troubles

“If you’re talking to a person of Armenian descent who’s been involved in the fallout of the war and the divisiveness brought on thereafter in the Armenian domestic world, then (the film) will be a different kind of experience,” Tankian acknowledges. “I think it’s very painful for Armenians. We just had a traumatic experience of dictatorial regimes attacking us in the middle of COVID and the world not coming to help once again. It was very reminiscent of the (World War I) genocide. So, yes, (the film) hasn’t changed, but there’s more to the story now.”

I Am Not Alone, which won a dozen awards during its festival run, will be available on Virtual Cinema, accessible via the film’s website. Tankian’s score will also be released in conjunction with the film. “It’s probably the most positive music I had written at that time…and I’m not known for happy music, to say the least. But because I was there in Armenia during the tail end of the revolution I got to experience the elation in people’s eyes as they changed the trajectory for the country. So there is this musical elevation that comes from that time and my excitement of what that all meant.”

The soundtrack is not the only music Tankian has put out this year. He released an EP, Elasticity, back in March, along with a piano concerto, two live albums with his band the FCC, a pair of Cinematique Series sets and a recorded poetry collection called Cool Gardens Poetry Suite after his 2001 poetry book. He has another “electro rock EP” on the runway and is working on scores for another Hovannisian documentary and for two streaming docu-series slated to come out next year. And he’s getting ready to hit the road again with System of a Down with October dates in Las Vegas, Fresno, Oakland and Los Angeles, which will also give the band a chance to finally play its 2020 singles “Protect the Land” and “Genocidal Humanoidz” — the group’s first new releases in 15 years — for live audiences.

“We’re excited about playing those songs live — and it’s gonna be hard, to be honest,” Tankian says of the tracks, both inspired by the conflicts in Armenia and the friendly breakaway Republic of Artsakh. “It’s just so emotional, still, for us and for a lot of Armenians because we’re still dealing with the injustice of the war and the war crimes committed and the devastation of it. It’s like a catharsis. But I’m very proud of what the band achieved in terms of getting those two songs out and helping to spread the message of what’s really going on there.”

As for losing Faith No More from the dates while frontman Mike Patton confronts mental health issues, Tankian is supportive. “That’s really sad,” he notes. “Mike is a friend of mine and I’ve reached out to him and his manager. I just hope he’s OK. I love him dearly. I know he’s influenced so many artists and bands, including ours. It would’ve been great to play together, but the important thing is health and the important thing is everyone’s OK, and we can always find time to play together again.”

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