SYSTEM OF A DOWN joined a diverse and elite group of artists to surpass the one-billion mark, a list which includes NIRVANA‘s “Smells Like Teen Spirit”, GUNS N’ ROSES‘ “Novemeber Rain”, QUEEN‘s “Bohemian Rhapsody” and LINKIN PARK‘s “Numb” and “In The End”.
“Chop Suey!” was the first single from SYSTEM OF A DOWN‘s second album, “Toxicity”. The single was released in August 2001 and earned the band its first Grammy nomination in 2002 for “Best Metal Performance.”
In a new interview with Apple Music‘s Zane Lowe, SYSTEM singer Serj Tankian reflected on the response to “Chop Suey!” when the song originally came out. He said (see video below): “‘Chop Suey!’ was released a [week or two] before September 11th, 2001… And on September 11th, when the whole planes crashing into the World Trade Center, that catastrophe happened, our album was No. 1. And it felt like the whole world was exploding. And they took our song off the radio, ‘Chop Suey!’. Because it had the word ‘suicide’ in it — ‘self-righteous suicide’ — everyone was calling us, going, ‘How did you guys know?’ and all this stuff. And we’re all weirded out, trying to figure out what the hell is going on. Meanwhile, we go on tour, ’cause we were booked to tour on ‘Toxicity’, the record, with ‘Chop Suey!’ as the single. And every day, I remember those different [threat levels] — orange and red; the news basically saying the danger signals. And there might be terrorist attacks elsewhere. It was a daunting time. So when I think of ‘Chop Suey!’, I can’t think of how we actually sat in the studio and worked on it. I’m thinking of 9/11, going on tour, thinking we might die any night.”
Bassist Shavo Odadjian added: “The ‘Pledge Of Allegiance’ tour — that was the name of the tour [we were about to go on]. So it seemed kind of contrived, the whole thing we did. So I woke up to the morning with my phone blowing up. It was those last couple of days at home I was trying to really get, knowing I’m going on tour in a couple of days. I answered the phone, and it was my mom. And my mom said, ‘Turn the TV on. There’s chaos happening in America.’ I turned the TV on. It was, like, 9:15, and I saw the tower fall. My phone beeped, and I went to the other line, and it was my manager. And he goes, ‘Congratulations. You’re No. 1 on Billboard.’ In the same thought process of what’s happening in New York — I’m in L.A. — and then, ‘Oh, woah. We just went No. 1.’ And remember — it was our second record. We weren’t famous yet. We had a record, we toured and came back home and wrote this other record and we released it. This was gonna be our first tour in front of our second, sophomore record.
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“Until today, when people ask me, it’s bittersweet about [having had a] No. 1 [album on 9/11]. It was such a weird time.”
Last month, SYSTEM OF A DOWN released “Protect The Land” and “Genocidal Humanoidz”, the band’s first new songs in 15 years. The tracks were motivated by the recently erupted conflict between Artsakh and Azerbaijan, the latter aided by Turkey and accountable for the greatest violence the region has endured in 26 years. Produced by guitarist/vocalist Daron Malakian, who also wrote the music and lyrics, both songs are streaming now on all DSPs and are available for purchase on Bandcamp with band royalties earmarked for the Armenia Fund.
“Protect The Land” a was originally written by Malakian for the next album by his other group, SCARS ON BROADWAY, while “Genocidal Humanoidz” was penned three or four years ago when Odadjian, Malakian and drummer John Dolmayan convened for a jam session that produced several songs, only to abandon them when Tankian wouldn’t commit to an album.