System of a Down


All Systems Are Go

By Nigel Roberts

The wait for the follow up to the stunning System Of A Down debut seems to have been like forever, but as Shoutweb found out when we spoke to SOAD's John Dolmayan, the wait has purely been due to the demands placed on the band by its successful debut. The imminent release of "Toxicity" seems set to elevate the band to an even higher level.

Shoutweb: It seems to have been so long since the first album, three years ago now. I have heard some sampler songs from the forthcoming album. I have to say from my point of view that it has been worth the wait. Are you happy with the finished album?

John: I'm ecstatic about it and I feel it is a great piece of work. I couldn't be more proud of it, to be honest with you.

Shoutweb: Was it due to the phenomenal success of the debut that we had to wait until now for the follow up?

John: We spent so much time touring in the last three years that it became impossible to write any new material. Once we did start writing, which was in the summer of 2000, we wrote for a solid six or seven months and we came up with 32 songs. We never sat idle, but good things take a little time sometimes. If you want quality, you have to wait. I actually think that this surpasses the work we did on our first album.

Shoutweb: Was there anything you did radically different in the recording of the new album that differed from the things you learned from the debut?

John: Well first of all we went in with a much more relaxed atmosphere. Having done one album and knowing how things work in the studio, we weren't as shocked, surprised, or scared as we were for the first record. We knew what we wanted from the sound and we expressed it and got exactly what we wanted. We did a more layered sound with the guitars and bass to thicken the sound up more than on the last one. I think the last album has a unique sound that I wouldn't trade for the world. This one also has a unique sound which is what we want to achieve on every album.

Shoutweb: How long did it actually take to write and record "Toxicity"? Was it something you were pulling together all the time you were out on the road or was it only when you finished touring the first record that you got chance to write the new material?

John: Well, the writers in the band dabbled with writing on the road but it was very difficult so things only came together when we finally got home as we never really had a break from touring with the first record. We took two weeks off after we came off the road and then we rented a studio and started writing again.

Shoutweb: Does the fact that you have been all over the world on the back of the first record change your attitudes towards life and does it therefore reflect in the songs on the new record?

John: We definitely have a better understanding of not only the world but of each other! We went round the world and realised that we are all one here and it puts things into a better perspective when you see how other people live and you become more diversified as you intregrate into other cultures. Basically you grow as a person and it is impossible not to do that when you travel.

Shoutweb: So what was your most treasured memory of that time out on the road?

John: We were on Ozzfest and we were travelling around in this old RV and we were in the middle of Kentucky somewhere and it was about 110 degrees or something when the thing just starts bellowing out smoke. We are in the middle of nowhere with no way of getting to the next show, and on Ozzfest if you don't make the show they will kick you off. Anyway, we all just sat there helpless and our guitarist, Darren, starts singing, "It's a long way to the top if you want to rock n roll" by AC/DC which was so funny. It is something that I will always remember as that was the best fucking time with just the four of us, no bullshit, and something I will never forget.

Shoutweb: So, now that you are megastars and have a luxury bus, will you miss all that RV touring?

John: What the hell is a megastar? (laughs) We don't consider ourselves that way at all! We are four guys who are very fortunate to be doing what they do for a living and being able to support ourselves doing that. There are no rock star attitudes in any one of us and we keep each others feet on the ground and remember that the most important thing is always the music that we create and the fans that we create it for.

Shoutweb: I saw your shows here in the UK with Static-X And Spineshank and I thought that you stood apart from all the new breed of bands that were appearing on the scene at that time. What kind of reaction did you get from all the other bands that you went on the road with?

John: We have had positive reactions from everyone we have ever toured with and I cannot remember having a negative reaction from anyone we have played alongside. There was a lot of shit talked at different times but we were never a part of all that as we are a people's band and we have always gotten really good reactions.

Shoutweb: Since the release of the debut, there has been an explosion of bands signing to major labels yet you guys were one of the ground breakers who basically kicked the new scene into shape. What do you think of the new breed who have come after you? Are there any you really like or do you think the market is now swamped?

John: I think there are a lot of bands who sound like each other and I appreciate the record companies perspective as they want to make money but I think it is a really good way to kill the scene. Limp Bizkit is an original in itself so we don't need ten more bands that sound like Limp Bizkit or like Korn, Tool, Deftones or Zombie for that matter. Right now we need bands who are going to create something new but I think there is a lack of such bands right now to be honest with you.

Shoutweb: SOAD are totally unique as you draw on influences and backgrounds that no other modern rock band could possibly match. How important a role do you think that your roots play in creating SOAD's distinctive sound?

John: When you are making soup you have a spice rack and you incorporate different spices to add to the flavour of this soup. Every single spice adds to the taste but no one single spice defines it and that is exactly how we are.

Shoutweb: Just how involved are the band in environmental and human issues? Your web site is full of links to various groups from Amnesty International to green issues.

John: We are involved and we care about it and we make the information available to those who want to find out more about it but we don't want to push our opinions on to people. Our main purpose is to make music that we enjoy and respect and hopefully other people will enjoy and respect it too.

Shoutweb: You were born in the Lebanon. What kind of role did music play in your early life in a war torn environment?

John: My Dad is a musician and I have been in clubs since I was born. He was, and continues to be, my single biggest influence, although he never wanted me to get involved in the business at all. He did his best to stop me getting involved, to the extent that I didn't start playing drums until I was fifteen years old.

Shoutweb: Who and where did you see your first big rock concert?

John: Pink Floyd at the Los Angeles Coliseum on the "Momentary Lapse Of Reason" tour. That night changed my life as I knew I needed to be up on that stage. Last year, I played there in front of 80,000 people on my birthday which was a special moment for me.

Shoutweb: The most special moment to date?

John: One of them. Perhaps the most special was at another LA show on November 4th last year in aid of the Armenian Genocide when I threw a drum stick into the audience and it landed on my aunt's lap which meant a lot to me as she was recently diagnosed with pancreas cancer.

Shoutweb: So, what other things interest you besides music?

John: I am a serious comic book and toy collector, big time!! I spend a lot of my income on those things. In fact, we leave for Japan in the morning and I will go crazy over there buying toys and comics, in fact I will need an extra suitcase. (laughs)

Shoutweb: Are you married and do you have kids?

John: (after a seemingly age long pause) I have a girlfriend but I am not sure that she will be my girlfriend when I get home. (after that I decided to leave that line of questioning)

Shoutweb: Are you looking forward to getting out on the road with "Toxicity"?

John: We can't wait to get back on the road as we have been idle too long and we cannot wait to play the new songs to the fans on this tour!

Shoutweb: Well, I have heard the new album and it certainly gets the thumbs up from me so good luck with "Toxicity" and thanks for taking the time to chat.

John: It has been a pleasure and thank you !


Redefining Rock and Roll

By Therese McKeon

When your job is the drummer for the socially conscious band System of a Down, life on the road means fitting in-store performances and television appearances in with family time. While dropping in for a surprise visit at a relative's house during the Pledge of Allegiance tour, John Dolmayan had time for a candid interview with Shoutweb. Between kissing babies, the skins man filled us in on the chemistry that makes up this irresistible foursome detailing why System of Down does things in their own way and in their own time. Insights include why "Toxicity" was not a double album, where the making of the "Chop Suey!" video differs from others, and how life on the road is worth it even though it has resulted in two stolen drumkits.

John: I'm in Washington now and I have some relatives here. So, I thought it would be cool to visit them. You know, you gotta take care of the family.

Shoutweb: So, you're taking care of business while you're taking care of business!

John: This is more important than anything else.

Shoutweb: I'm sure they'll say, "Hmmm... nice visit John! You were on the phone doing interviews the whole time!" (laughter)

John: They don't care. At least they can see my face! (laughter)

Shoutweb: You can kiss babies in between questions.

John: I gotta see the kids!

Shoutweb: I know what that's like. I have 20 nieces and nephews.

John: Twenty?!

Shoutweb: Yes. I am one of 12 children.

John: Damn, your parents were bored, huh?! It must have been cold!

Shoutweb: I suppose so! Okay, well, let's get started here. I feel as though System of a Down is often portrayed as one-dimensional. You hear a lot of people refer to you as, "The guys with the causes and politically charged or socially relevant things to say." Not that I don't I want to touch on those things. I just want to hear about some of the other aspects of the band.

John: Well, you touch on whatever you want! (laughter)

Shoutweb: First, tell me about this record. Drums are one of the many things that impress me on "Toxicity".

John: Thank you.

Shoutweb: It is a musical treat to my ears. I am sure you didn't sit down together and say, "We are going to make an artistic statement with this record." Is this something that just happens naturally as you've grown as a band?

John: We've definitely grown as a band but everything that we've done happened naturally. We tried very hard not to sound like anything else that's out there. And that includes our own albums. We're always trying to take it to the next level. To do something different. To kind of push the boundaries of the art as opposed to following the blueprint of what's successful. To us, it's very surprising that we're even played on MTV or the radio. 'Cause we've never written towards that, you know? Starting with the first record we never expected "Sugar" to be on the radio. We never expected anything to be on the radio. We thought we would be a very underground band. But for some reason, mainstream has kind of accepted it. I think it's pushing the boundaries of the mainstream, which is good. It allows music that may not necessarily have been heard by a lot of people to be heard. And that will push on for the next generation too.

Shoutweb: There is an intense chemistry between the four members of the band. Usually, you have the lead singer out front and a video that plays that up. There are four distinct personalities that you see in System of a Down in videos, live, in interviews.

John: What usually happens is the label will try to centralize on one person because it kind of brings fans to a better level of understanding of the band that way for whatever their marketing purpose is. You feel a little more in tune when you have four people to concentrate on rather than just one. You get to spread yourself out a little more. The way our band works is we have four equal artistic individuals in the band. We each have visions. We work together to make it happen. So it's a nice collaboration for us. We handle different aspects of the art. The music business can be a very difficult one to be in. You know what I mean?

Shoutweb: Yes, totally.

John: We're pretty sharp. I think we stay on top of things. We're aware of what's going on. We're not lead by anyone except ourselves. We're open to everyone's ideas but ultimately we're going to decide what happens with the music in every aspect.

Shoutweb: How are you allowed that type of freedom?

John: We're allowed it because we don't live any other way. That's the only option if you're going to work with System of a Down. That's it. There's no other choice. You don't have to sign us. You don't have to put out our albums. It's your choice to do that. But if you're going to make that choice then the music is going to be our way.

Shoutweb: Is it a matter of signing a good contract when a band is first starting out?

John: I think it's a matter of staying true to your guns and not selling yourself short. We waited a long time to sign. We didn't take the first offer that came to us and run with it. We were patient with everything. We didn't put out an album right after our first one. We didn't want to ride on the coattails of the success of the first album. I think a lot of bands do that and they end up screwing themselves in the long run because they make a mediocre second album. A lot of bands have that second album dread. You write for seven years for the first album then you write for three months for the second. Of course it's going to sound like crap, but we took our time. We were in no hurry. The label wanted our album out last Christmas. Obviously, that didn't happen. Once again, they have a business to run and we understand that. But for longevity, which is something important to this band, you have to do things at the right time. We had over 30 songs recorded, about 33 songs, for this album. I think all the songs that we recorded are worthy of being on the album but not all of them worked with the vibe of this album. That's how we picked them.

Shoutweb: All the fans out there are cringing hoping for that double CD right now!

John: I didn't answer your first question. We'll jump around a little bit here okay?

Shoutweb: You touch on whatever you want to! (laughter)

John: (laughter) We're four band members. Personally, I don't care if I'm in the video or not. It doesn't bother me. I like not being known. I like not being recognized. I can go about my everyday business without problems. Not that we're like the Beatles or anything. (laughter) People aren't attacking us.

Shoutweb: (laughter) Drummers are used to that anyway. They're pretty hidden away. You're the guy behind the scenes.

John: And I'm comfortable being there. I've always enjoyed playing drums. That's what I've always wanted to do. So, I have no envy or lead singer envy. If anything, they have envy towards me because everybody wants to play drums. The band is actually adamant about equal time in the video. They want everybody to be seen. They want everybody to be heard. We really look out for each other. I'll be like, "Hey, you can't hear the guitar" when we're mixing then, "The guitar needs to come up." Then Daron will say, "No, the drums need to come up." And we'll argue about it like, "Look, man!" (laughter)

Shoutweb: (laughter) But it's good?

John: It's good. It's positive arguments. It's for the benefit of the band as opposed to the benefit of one person's ego. And that's important to us.

Shoutweb: The band's chemistry comes through. It's funny because you're a band that I don't really feel like I know. You guys seem so distant even though you're very vocal and everyone's always talking about. I think it's because there are so many layers and so many levels. You're so complex as a band.

John: What do you want to know? Each band member is different. You can get to know each member and that's going to take you a year. (laughter)

Shoutweb: I know! (laughter)

John: (laughter) Or maybe a year per band member.

Shoutweb: It's weird because we're often categorized as a metal web site. For example, in the Reader's Choice Awards in Metal Edge Magazine this year Shoutweb was voted in the top 5 "Best Metal Web Sites" but we're not really metal.

John: Everybody's always trying to categorize. We've been categorized more times than I can count. From Armenian rock, whatever the hell that is, to metal to rock. They don't know what the hell to call us. And that's good because we don't consider ourselves to be any one form of music. I mean, if you listen to our album, good luck categorizing us! If you can do it, you're better than I am because I can't do it.

Shoutweb: What made you go with these 14 songs for "Toxicity"? Did you sit down with all 33 and say, "No, that does sound too much like such and such that is already out there"?

John: No. None of the songs we recorded sound anything like anything else that is out there. Some of the songs were a given. We said, "Yeah, this has definitely got to be on the album."

Shoutweb: Such as which songs?

John: I'm not going to tell you.

Shoutweb: Not fair! Not fair! The fans want to know, damnit!

John: I know but that's for them to figure out. Some of them were like, "Okay, do we want this one or this one?" Well, we thought about what would work best and we didn't want to make an album that was too long which is also why we don't put out a double album. We could. We could put out a double album every time. Getting back to having too much to spread your attention to. It's 14 songs and the album is about 40 minutes long. Your attention span isn't being pushed to a level that it can't handle. Especially when you have heavy elements in music, you can't really listen to it for two hours. It's got to be short and sweet. Get to the point and get out. But I think we take you on a pretty good rollercoaster with this album as far as vibe goes. It goes from really heavy to really melodic and that's not necessarily two songs. That's all in one song!

Shoutweb: (laughter) I think it's like a musical rollercoaster with twists and turns in just the right places when you least expect them.

John: We don't follow the rules of music too much. If there are any, then there shouldn't be. You don't go to an artist and say, "Paint this picture this way because these are the parameters that we've set for you." You have to do whatever comes naturally to you. We feel we do a pretty good job of making radio and MTV cater to us as opposed to us catering to them.

Shoutweb: The musical style is much more like that of a classical composer. One song goes in one direction and another goes in completely the opposite direction yet they fit together.

John: Serj has kind of a schizophrenic writing style. I say it as a compliment but he always looks at me all weird when I say that. (laughter)

Shoutweb: (laughter)

John: He has a schizophrenic writing style which makes it really fun to play drums over what he writes. He does the majority of writing for the band. He's very good at it. My hat's off to him. I can't write that stuff.

Shoutweb: You come in and add your flare?

John: Yes, we all do. See, here's the deal.

Shoutweb: This is what I am waiting for. Tell me what the deal is! (laughter)

John: Okay, here it is. I'm going to break it down. Whoever writes the song, we don't have that ego like, "This is my song." When you bring a song to the table, it's our song. Whatever it starts out to be on one level, it may go and end up somewhere else that is completely different. Most of the time, because I am telling you, man, we know each other really well, Shavo will bring a song in and I'll have the beats for it in about 5 or 10 minutes. It's because he kind of caters to my style of playing too. He'll listen to what I'm really into. Sometimes I'll be like, "Man, I'm getting into this kind of jazz progression right now." And then about three months later, he'll have a song that fits that. I told Shavo one time, "I really like this Night Rider beat." Remember the show Nightrider?

Shoutweb: Of course, with David Hasselhoff and Kit!

John: The theme beat is rad! I told the guys that I would like to do something similar to that. He had this riff that he was thinking about and we went in and wrote the song.

Shoutweb: Which was?

John: Not on the album. (laughter)

Shoutweb: (laughter) Well, what was it called?

John: It was called "Nightrider" at that time. And then it was called "Kit". We don't know what it's going to end up being called. A lot of songs take different names after a while. "Chop Suey!" had like four names.

Shoutweb: Which were?

John: Not going to tell you. (laughter)

Shoutweb: (laughter) The kids need some scoop here.

John: Think up any name you want. We can't just go "Song #1", "Song #2", you know? Especially when you have 33 or 40 songs. You have to name them something just so you can associate with them. Otherwise I'll be playing one song and Serj will be singing another one and Shavo will be playing another one.

Shoutweb: So you have to think of a working title for them all.

John: We've done that before.

Shoutweb: I want to talk about specific songs.

John: Okay, well, I don't talk about specific songs.

Shoutweb: You don't?

John: No, I'm just kidding. (laughter)

Shoutweb: (laughter) Come on! No fair, must give me some answers.

John: I give you precisely vague answers. (laughter)

Shoutweb: That's persistent avoidance. (laughter)

John: I'm good at it. Ask my girlfriend.

Shoutweb: Is she there? Put her on. I will get answers!

John: No, she's not here. She's in L.A.

(more call waiting interruptions)

Shoutweb: You are so damn popular!

Shoutweb: In the song "X", there is this fluttering noise on the drums. What is that?

John: That's me playing. (laughter)

Shoutweb: But really, how do you do that?

John: You play drums for about 15 years and then you listen to as many different kinds of music as possible. And whatever the song calls for, you do it. That's how you do it. It's basically, if you ever listen to death metal, they do it like it's nothing and way faster than I could ever do it.

Shoutweb: It's almost like a butterfly. The drums are just amazing.

John: Well, when you come to the show, I'll have you stand behind me.

Shoutweb: And take pictures? That would be cool.

John: That's fine. Sure, I don't mind it.

Shoutweb: "Forest" kind of has this horse noise.

John: Kind of like a gallop.

Shoutweb: Yes! Exactly.

John: It's all the music, period. I could be doing something that will be totally different from the guitars but together it will create something else. The way people's hearing works from right to left, if you have different things coming in through each ear, and then your brain just drops certain notes, and then puts it together so that you have one vision of what's going on. That's kind of what's going on when you have different instruments. You're not hearing everything that everyone is doing necessarily. It's creating something new. All that noise together is creating something totally different from each part.

John: Hey! My cousin's here! Hang on, I have to go hug her real quick.

Shoutweb: Okay!

John: Okay, I'm back. Not a very rock and roll interview I'm afraid. (laughter)

Shoutweb: That's okay! (laughter)

John: But it's all good. It's all me. I'm going to be the most boring VH-1 story you ever saw. "And then he kicked it with his family!" (laughter)

Shoutweb: His loving family. (laughter)

John: I love kids. What can I say?

Shoutweb: Now I have to decide whether to leave all of this in or cut it out.

John: Go ahead. Please, this is my life.

Shoutweb: Very good. So, are there any songs on here that you love playing live?

John: I love playing every single song live. I really like playing "Toxicity" and "Science" because I'm doing things on those songs. I don't know how to explain it. It's just fun to play those songs. "Toxicity" especially because I hit really hard and I have room. Usually I'm doing about ten thousand notes and that one has a little less so it's a different style basically that I have to incorporate for those two songs. I like to play different styles. We'll go from jazz to blast beats or whatever. We're crazy! (laughter)

Shoutweb: (laughter) And this is why we love you. On "Bounce", I don't know how you keep up that intensity.

John: You're gonna see. You think we're intense on the album? Wait until you see us live. That's nothing.

Shoutweb: I haven't seen this tour live but I will on Halloween in New Jersey.

John: Seriously though, come talk to me and I'll let you come behind the drums if you like drums.

Shoutweb: Seriously? I would love to.

John: Call me.

Shoutweb: Don't forget. On Halloween.

John: No problem.

Shoutweb: Don't forget. How is the "Pledge of Allegiance" tour going?

John: It's going really well. We've known the guys from Slipknot for years. They're cool guys. We have fun with them. The Rammstein guys are awesome. They're really cool. They're German so you can barely understand what they say but they're real good party guys. They're funny guys. I think it's important to have humor on tour, no attitude. We don't do that. We don't do that attitude thing. People respect you more when you're yourself as opposed to trying to earn people's respect by being a jerk. We're just musicians. We're doing our thing. We try not to bother anybody and if anybody bothers us we'll approach them and tell them why they're bothering us. So you don't have hostility built up. We're good like that. We're mouthy! (laughter)

Shoutweb: Do you feel like you're making a statement all the time or do you just like to some times say, "We like to have fun too."

John: It's important to know what is happening in your world. We're not the type of band that shrinks away from our responsibility to bring awareness to different things that are happening on this planet. It's not all about how we view things in the media. There are a lot of things happening that we have no clue about what is going on. It has been for centuries since time began. As much as we're into bringing about social change and acknowledging that things do happen, we also have a great time doing what we do. We really love playing music. We really enjoy playing live. That's why we do this, for the joy of it. Yes, we'd like to make people aware of things but it's more waking them up to the fact that there are things out there, not necessarily pointing them out. Go find it for yourself, you know? Don't make me do ALL the work! (laughter) I can't play drums, go on tour, and fix your world for you too.

Shoutweb: The two media events that were semi-controversal for System of a Down were the show in L.A. that went awry. I know there was an official statement about fear that Serj wrote. Then you had the cancellation of events which ensued from that such as the in-store signing in L.A.

John: That was bullshit. I went anyway.

Shoutweb: You did?

John: Fuck that. They're not going to tell me to cancel shit. I mean, if kids are going to show up, I'm going to show up.

Shoutweb: How did that go? Did you guys sign stuff?

John: I went by myself and signed stuff outside in the parking lot. They pussed out. I can understand why they were afraid of a riot in the stores. Our fans don't riot. I don't walk around with security guards. I go into the crowd all the time. The kids are so cool. They come up to you. They appreciate what you do. Of course they want to meet you and talk to you for two seconds. And you know what? If you don't have two fucking seconds for them then get off tour. That's your responsibility, to these people. They're the ones that provide you with your living so you can have the important things in your life. At least give something back. Some kid working at McDonald's spent $200 bucks. He buys a ticket. He has to get down there, parking, food, gas.

Shoutweb: T-shirt.

John: T-shirt, you know? And what is he making per week, man? Give him a little bit of appreciation. I don't like that rock star attitude. Fuck that.

Shoutweb: (laughter) Good for you.

John: I really don't like that rock star attitude at all.

Shoutweb: I think that's also why you guys have the element of "keeping it real".

John: We're the people's band, man. We're not Bruce Springsteen.

Shoutweb: A modern day Bruce Springsteen maybe?

John: Maybe. We need a hot supermodel dancing on stage though. (laughter)

Shoutweb: Speaking of videos, tell me about the video shoot for "Chop Suey!"

John: That was the most fun I've ever had on a video shoot. Usually video shoots are really boring. You're playing the same song over and over again but you're not really playing. I play anyway. I don't care. We played for about six hours and I'm talking live. We played the whole first album and the second album twice. And we had nothing but real fans there. See, here's another problem. Whenever we do something, we expect a quarter of the people who show up. Like for the L.A. riot thing that happened. They were expecting 3,000 kids which I thought was ludicrous because 3 years ago we did something like that and 4,000 people showed up. So what do you think? We got less popular by now? (laughter)

Shoutweb: (laughter)

John: Come on dunce! (laughter) They didn't have enough security. The promoter didn't have enough security there and the police overreacted. When you put those two elements together, you're not going to have a positive outcome. We wanted to go on stage and at least tell the people why we weren't going to be playing. We were told that we would be arrested which didn't really scare me. Whatever happened happened. What sucks is that they stole my drum set.

Shoutweb: Oh no. Are you serious?

John: I'm dead serious. The whole thing. The unfortunate thing about that is, well, first of all, nobody got hurt and that's what's important, but that was the drumset that I used to record my album. I hoped to one day pass that down to one of my kids as a memory, you know? Sort of as "here, this is a piece of history". This is the second time this has happened. I've lost both sets of drums from both albums.

Shoutweb: What happened to the last set?

John: It got stolen.

Shoutweb: Are they on eBay?

John: I don't know. If it is, whatever, karma is karma. It was unfortunate but whatever. I guess I'll survive. A lot worse has happened.

Shoutweb: Speaking of a lot worse, in reaction to the attacks on the U.S. on September 11th, the band made a statement that was not very well received. I heard Howard Stern got a hold of it and flipped out?

John: Howard Stern got a hold of someone's interpretation of what we said. That was a whole other stupid mess. People are so eager to blame somebody for something right now because they're so afraid. They'll use patriotism as a crutch to hide their fear. That's basically what happened. Serj has never said that the United States deserved what happened that day. How could you say that innocent people dying is deserved? Period. That's ludicrous. Anybody who knows anything about our band knows that we don't advocate hate, violence. Although we're violent people. Uh... just kidding!

Shoutweb: (laughter) Violent people?

John: Although everything that Serj was speaking about was true, we and he agrees and this is the only thing he apologized for, is that it was not at the right time. You don't put it in people's face that yeah, we also do injustice around the world. Not right now, people need to mourn.

Shoutweb: One last question, what is up with you being in a suit in these photos? Why are you the straight man?

John: I look good in a suit!

Shoutweb: Most bands don't own suits.

John: I own a suit.

Shoutweb: Did you get to keep the suit from the photo shoot?

John: That's my suit and it's my only suit. I go to weddings with that suit.

Shoutweb: Well, don't get it stolen! You can pass that down someday.

John: I think it will be a little out of style by then. It will look like something out of the 70's with a big cummerbund.

Shoutweb: Okay, thanks John.

John: Thanks sweetie. See you in New York.

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