System of a Down guitarist Daron Malakian has given his side project Scars on Broadway a major makeover, with a new name (“Daron Malakian and Scars on Broadway“), a new lineup (TBA), and a new song and video. “Lives,” the project’s first offering since 2010, doubles as the lead single from Scars on Broadways’ long-awaited sophomore album, “Dictator”, due out July 20th and recorded, produced and performed entirely by Malakian.
The stirring single’s April 23rd release date coincides with the 103rd anniversary of the Armenian Genocide that claimed the lives of 1.5 million Armenians — including members of Malakian‘s family — in the 1910’s. A portion of the sales proceeds from the single will benefit Armenia Fund, a nonprofit providing humanitarian aid to those in the region. “The traditional Armenian folk dances and colorful costumes that you see in the video are an homage to Armenia’s rich history and culture,” says Malakian of Hayk Matevosyan’s accompanying visual, a celebration of the country’s enduring culture. “The song and the imagery in the video are meant to inspire pride among — and empower — the survivors of a historical tragedy.”
Though “Dictator” was recorded by Malakian solo, he insists that there’s no intra-band drama at play here. “Nobody quit,” he told Ultimate Guitar last week. “When I first started Scars, I always said that it would be different lineups from album to album. Depends on the type of direction I want to take. Different musicians work for different styles. That is partly why I added my name in front of the band’s.”
In an interview with Rolling Stone, Malakian reveals that his lack of clarity about what was going on in System of a Down led him to sit on the album, for which he recorded every instrument and all the vocals. “I recorded the album and then around that time System started playing live again,” he says. “So every time we’d play live, there’d be conversations like, ‘Maybe we’ll do an album.’ So is the guy who wrote the majority of almost all the System songs in the past, I was like, ‘All right, let me see what’s happening with it. Let me hold onto these songs and let me see how this develops.’ We talked about it and we weren’t all on the same page. Not everybody was into the idea … Not knowing what’s happening with System has kept me from putting my own stuff out.”
That said, now that it’s finally set to come out, the new Scars on Broadway album should please fans of both his bands, according to Malakian. It “has more of a System flavor to it than the first Scars on Broadway did,” he says of “Dictator”, noting specifically that there are “more of the metal tones going on there.”
As for a new SOAD record, the guitarist says the idea hasn’t been abandoned, but that the band also hasn’t made much concrete progress on one. “It really comes down to where each person is in his life and not everybody is ready to commit the same way I might be,” he explains, adding, “Trust me, man, I’m probably the biggest System of a Down fan in the world. I mean, I named the band … So I’d like to see something like that happen.”