Serj Tankian: I Respect John Dolmayan Very Much, But Not His American Political Views

The System of a Down bandmates are on "polar opposite" ends of the American political spectrum

Serj Tankian on John Dolmayan politics
System of a Down’s Serj Tankian and John Dolmayan (photos by Armen Keleshian)

Over the past year or so, a political divide has played out indirectly between System of a Down bandmates Serj Tankian and John Dolmayan. While Tankian’s views are strongly on the left, Dolmayan is firmly planted in the right, when it comes to American politics, in particular.

Tankian supported Bernie Sanders during the presidential primaries, and repeatedly voiced his displeasure with the Trump administration. At one point during the height of the 2020 protests, the singer even called for the end of the Trump regime. And right before Trump’s presidency ended, Tankian declared, “I’ve never seen a president suck so much,” following a U.S. agreement with Turkey that appeared to minimize Armenia’s cultural heritage.

Dolmayan, on the other hand, took to his Instagram account to label Democrats the “true bigots” when it comes to U.S. race relations; designate then-President Trump the “greatest friend to minorities”; and declare that Black Lives Matter “never had legitimacy.”

In addition to being bandmates, Tankian and Dolmayan are also brothers-in-law. While Tankian previously admitted that he finds Dolmayan’s American political stances “frustrating”, we wanted to know whether the two have spoken to each other about their contrasting views. When Heavy Consequence recently caught up with Tankian about his new documentary, Truth to Power, we asked him if he and Dolmayan have had direct conversations about their political differences.

“We’re very good friends, we’re family, and he’s my drummer in my band, so of course we’ve talked about many, many different things, including political views,” Tankian told us. “When you don’t agree with someone after a while about a certain topic … look, it doesn’t mean that we don’t agree about other stuff. We agree a lot about Armenian stuff, for example, a lot about family stuff, a lot of other things, a lot of personal stuff. But when it comes to American politics, we happen to be on the polar opposite ends of it, and we’re both very passionate and vehement about our views, which is fine.”

The singer continued, “I love and respect John very much, but I don’t love and respect his American political views. And that’s fine. And I can live with that and he can live with that because we respect and care for each other. And it’s really just that. Have we talked about it? Yeah. But do we talk about it often? No, because there comes a point where when you don’t see eye to eye on something, you just rather talk about something else.”

When it comes to their bond concerning issues facing Armenia, Tankian and Dolmayan recently came together with their System of a Down bandmates to record the band’s first new songs in 15 years — “Protect the Land” and “Genocidal Humanoidz” — to help raise funds for their ancestral country and its neighboring state Artsakh.

As mentioned, Tankian recently released the documentary Truth to Power (virtual tickets here), which chronicles his social activism as well as his career with System of a Down. Later this month, he will release the new solo EP, Elasticity, which features songs that he had initially hoped to record with System of a Down.

Read our full interview with Tankian about Truth to Power, and stay tuned for his thoughts on the new EP and what it was like to record with System of a Down again after so many years.