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System of a Down’s Serj Tankian Is “Okay” with Losing Fans Due to His Activism

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System of a Down frontman Serj Tankian has been steadfast as a political activist over the years, and he’s well aware that his beliefs might come at the cost of losing a some fans of his music.

Tankian admitted that he was “okay” with that fact in a new interview with NPR, citing his desire to be an artist rather than just an entertainer.

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“I’m okay with that because an artist isn’t supposed to please everyone,” Tankian said. “An artist is supposed to basically try to receive through the collective consciousness whatever truths that we’re trying to live by, the truths of our times. If we can’t do that as artists, then we’re entertainers. From day one, you have to make that choice: Are you an entertainer only or are you going to be an artist?”

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He continued, “If you’re an entertainer, that’s cool; there’s many entertainers I follow and love. But if you’re going to be an artist, then the road is not going to be easy. You’re going to have to be honest with yourself and everyone else at all times, and people are going to like you and people are going to hate you, and that’s okay.”

It’s worth noting that Tankian isn’t the only member of System of a Down whose strong political beliefs might turn off some fans. Drummer John Dolmayan — who is also Serj’s brother-in-law — has made numerous public statements supporting right-wing beliefs that are in full contrast to Tankian’s politics. Still, Tankian considers himself “more of the activist in the band than anyone else.”

“There was always this push and pull between the message and the music,” Tankian said. “The other guys, rightfully so, didn’t want the music to be victimized by the message at all times. I understood that because I loved the music as well, but when there was [a message] that needed to be dispersed, I felt like that was just as important, if not more important, than the music.”

Tankian’s NPR interview came in the wake of his new memoir, Down with the System, which came out a week ago. As for System of a Down, the band has a headlining date at Golden Gate Park in San Francisco on August 17th (get tickets here).

For more on Serj Tankian, stay tuned for Heavy Consequence‘s upcoming interview with the SOAD singer.

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