By Richard Smirke

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Serj Tankian

Political activist, environmental campaigner and, most famously, voice
of alternative metal band System Of A Down, Serj Tankian has never
followed a conventional rock'n'roll career. The Armenian-American
has long been one of the more contentious and idiosyncratic frontmen
in rock.

Now that he is effectively a solo artist, following the announcement
in 2006 that System Of A Down were in indefinite hiatus, he is proving
just as unpredictable. In October last year Tankian's solo debut,
Elect The Dead, was released to positive reviews, expressing relief
that the singer had abandoned the obscure Armenian folk of his previous
side project, Serart.

In contrast, Elect contained the same blend of soaring guitars,
skewed time signatures and classical arrangements that had made SOAD
so distinctive.

Unsurprisingly, Tankian's plans for the follow-up record are somewhat
different. 'I am putting together a world-class orchestra and a few
opera singers to collaborate with for the next one,' he says. 'I
am looking at doing a jazz/orchestral record: jazz on the intimate
side and orchestral on the grand side. I want the orchestra to be
the electric guitar.'

Tankian is also working with playwright Steven Sater on a musical
adaptation of Greek tragedy Prometheus Bound. 'I have never done
a musical or a play, so to me i t's interesting new territory as a
composer,' he says, describing the project as 'ranging in style from
classical to pop, noise to rock to electronic'.

Although keen to stretch himself, Tankian has not abandoned
his rock roots, with this rescheduled UK tour mostly based on
Elect The Dead. Then again, if you're not prepared for the odd
orchestral-jazz-noise-rock fusion moment, you just don't know Serj.

Mon Sep 1, ABC, 300 Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow. 7pm, £18.50, sold
out, returns only. Tel: 0870 400 0818. www.serjtankian.com

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