Exclusive Interview: Serj Tankian

Bloody Disgusting has scored an exclusive interview with Serj Tankian and is happy to bring to all you readers! After the jump, you can read about the new album, why the release tour was postponed, and lastly, how Serj suddenly comes to realize that horror may in fact be the foundation of a lot of what he does! All this and more, after the jump!

Serj’s new album, ‘Imperfect Harmonies‘, comes out tomorrow! Make sure to pick up your copy at your local retailer or order it on-line. 

How are you doing?
Very well, thank you. Just getting over a cold.
Well, that’s no good! I hope you feel better soon!
Your album, ‘Imperfect Harmonies’, comes out in less than two weeks. How would you compare ‘Imperfect Harmonies’ to ‘Elect The Dead’?
Well, ‘Elect The Dead’ was more of a straight on rock record with some progressive elements and melodies. ‘Imperfect Harmonies’ is also a rock record but definitely not as straight rock. There are electronic elements, programmed beats, synths as well as legato orchestras and some horn solos. So I think that it is a very diverse record.
Do you think that old fans will still enjoy the sound and will this hopefully draw in new listeners?
I definitely do! We’ve had fans of Serj and fans of System [of a Down] listen to it and they’ve enjoyed it and liked it very much! I definitely hope that we draw in more fans but in the end, I put out music that I am very happy with and that I believe in and that’s what I do. The music came from the universe and I put it down and I expressed it and I hope that others will feel the same when they hear it.
You recently announced that the ‘Imperfect Harmonies’ Tour was postponed. Can you tell me a bit about why that happened?
Absolutely! Normally, I do tours after a CD comes out but here I did two Europe tours before ‘Imperfect Harmonies’ came out to give the fans something new. Upon coming back, the plan was to start the US tour the same day that the album came out but then the album was pushed back. So I felt that it was in the best interests to postpone the tour so that I could do press and interviews in LA and New York, which I wouldn’t have been able to do otherwise. 
The video for ‘Left of Center’ was recently released and has a strong visual theme of the Greek myth of Sisyphus. Are the lyrics trying to represent the same endless struggle?
Well, the video was done by Tawd Dorenfeld who also worked on some of the ‘Elect the Dead’ videos and I really like the video. It’s also funny that you mention that because I’m working on a musical, ‘Prometheus Bound’, and I wasn’t exactly a Greek mythology person in school [laughs]. But I do think there is something to that, this idea of an endless struggle. We as humans are moving forward in amazing ways with technology but we are moving backwards in terms of our intuition. In order for us, as a people, to progress, we need to find a balance and bring that sense of intuition back. 
Throughout your videos, there have always been more extreme images and unusual concepts rather than the “norm”. Why do you find this appealing?
Hey, you’re the guy that comes from a website called Bloody Disgusting! [laughs]
The videos are mostly the vision of the director but I love what they do with it! I never saw a point in walking the median in terms of art. I think that it is important to challenge people and make them think outside of the box. 
Your music, like the horror genre, pushes boundaries and challenges expectations. Are you influenced by horror at all?
Do you mean horror films? I haven’t really seen many.
Well, horror in general. The theme and the atmosphere of horror.
Oh, well…I never thought of it like that. I know that I’ve been told many times that I could write scores for horror movies. I know that my music does come from a darker place but I don’t know if it’s influenced necessarily by horror. 
Music that you’ve produced as well as music from System of a Down has been on many horror soundtracks. What do you think is the relationship between your music or music that you’ve worked on and the horror genre. 
Wow, that’s a good question…what do you think?
I personally think that music such as yours comes from, like you said, a darker place but is not immediately understood with just one listen. It takes time to fully understand what is going on and how everything interacts with one another.
Yeah, that sounds right! Like you say, it comes from a dark place but I always felt that with a lot of horror, there is also an underlying sense of humor going on. I remember the face of Jack Nicholson in The Shining and there is something funny about it. Perhaps that is also a part of it. 
What are some of your favorite horror movies?
My family and I migrated to here when I was a little boy and my uncle, who was already living here, took me and my brother to a drive-in theater where there was a horror double-feature of Black Christmas and The Thing [Editors note: Going by timelines, I’m assuming this movie is The Thing From Outer Space]. And those movies scared the shit out of me and my brother! He was only 4 and I was 7 and…wait a minute! It’s all starting to make some sense! You could be right about this horror influence thing! [laughs] This is really fascinating to me!
So these I guess are some. Also, The Shining is brilliant. I also worked with William Friedkin on a movie called Bug with Ashley Judd and Harry Connick Jr. where i co-composed the film. He did The Exorcist which I also really enjoy.
But I’m still fascinated by this idea. I’m thinking there is something to all these horror questions!
Well, I wish I had some more for you but I’m all out! I want to wish you the best on the album release and I hope to see you soon on tour!
Thank you very much for these questions, they make me start to think that I should be working more with horror guys!