Serj Tankian
SerjTankian 2007
Background information
Born August 21 1967 (1967-08-21) (age 56)[1]
Origin Beirut, Lebanon[1]
Genre(s) Art rock
Alternative metal
Experimental metal
Folk rock
Occupation(s) Musician, songwriter, poet
Instrument(s) Vocals
Bass guitar
Years active 1993 - present
Label(s) Serjical Strike, Reprise, American, Columbia, Axis of Justice
System of a Down
Axis of Justice
Buckethead & Friends
Website www.serjicalstrike.com


Serj Tankian
Dan Monti
Larry "Ler" LaLonde
Mario Pagliarulo
Troy Zeigler
Erwin Khachikian

Serj Tankian (Armenian: Սերժ Թանգեան) (born August 21, 1967 in Beirut, Lebanon[1]) is a Lebanese-born Armenian-American singer, songwriter, poet, activist, and multi-instrumentalist. He is best known as the former lead vocalist, and keyboardist of the alternative metal band System of a Down. In 2002, Serj and Tom Morello co-founded a non-profit political activist organization, Axis of Justice. During his entertainment career, he released five albums with System of a Down, one with Arto Tunçboyacıyan (Serart), and also recently a solo album, Elect the Dead, on October 23, 2007.


Early life and career[]

Serj excelled in his studies from a young age. Tankian has a degree in Marketing and Business from California State University.[2] He took guitar lessons as a young child. In 1993, he founded the band Soil (not to be confused with SOiL) with Daron Malakian, Domingo Laranio, Dave Hakopyan, and later, Shavo Odadjian. Two years later however after one supposed jam session recording and one live show Dave and Domingo left. Shavo (who went on to become the bass player) brought in drummer Andy Kakachirin. This part of the group then named themselves, System of a Down. During System's days, he sang in other bands for certain songs such as Mushroom Cult by Dog Fashion Disco and lent his vocals to the song Mein by Deftones. He produced "Enter the Chicken" by Buckethead, and provided vocals to the Buckethead songs We Are One, Coma, and Waiting Here. With Serjical Strike Records, he endeavours to offer those musicians often ignored by the mainstream a possibility to release their music and be heard. The first release of Serj's new label was Serart, a project consisting of Tankian himself, and Arto Tunçboyacıyan, an Armenian friend of Tankian's.

More recently, he sang with Les Rita Mitsouko on the song "Terminal Beauty". Also, he sang with the band Fair to Midland during a live improvisational version of their song "Walls of Jericho", from the album Fables from a Mayfly: What I Tell You Three Times Is True, which was a massive hit with fans. He often collaborates as well with his close friend, director Diran Noubar on various projects, including the voice-over of Noubar's "Armenia, a Country Under Blockade". Noubar played some guitar on Tankian's Elect the Dead album on the track "Saving Us" and directed the music video for "Baby".

Tankian is also very involved politically. Together with Tom Morello, he founded the organization Axis of Justice. Tankian has a secondary (vacation) home in New Zealand. There has been a misconception that he intends to stay in New Zealand until the Iraq war is over, but as stated in an interview, Tankian has no intention in doing so. Tankian often speaks publicly against violence and injustice in the world.


In 2001, Tankian released a book of poetry titled Cool Gardens that is currently in its second printing. Actor and poet Saul Williams said in a review of Cool Gardens that:

Serj's words, like his voice, have a distinct aesthetic sensibility connected to an unyielding, visceral roar of passion. His capacity 'to mock a killing bird' while we wonder at the grace, beauty, and colorful range of his wingspan will be the trademark of both of his singing and writing careers.[3]

Two days after the attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001, Serj wrote an essay entitled "Understanding Oil"[4]. It caused a lot of controversy, particularly because many readers seemed to miss the message.


System of a Down[]

Main article: System of a Down discography
  • 1998: System of a Down
  • 2001: Toxicity
  • 2002: Steal This Album!
  • 2005: Mezmerize
  • 2005: Hypnotize


  • 2003: Serart

Axis of Justice[]

  • 2004: Concert Series Volume 1


  • 2007: Elect the Dead


Year Title Chart positions Album
Hot 100
Mod. Rock
Main. Rock
Rock Track
Hot 100
2007 "The Unthinking Majority" 3 - - - - - - Elect the Dead
"Empty Walls" 97 3 4 78 1 75
"Lie Lie Lie" 3 - - - - - -
2008 "Sky Is Over" 1 [5] - 24 30 - - -
  • 1 Still active on charts.
  • 2 To be released.
  • 3 Only released as a digital download single

Collaborations/soundtrack contributions[]


Performing and/or writing
  • 1999: Limp Bizkit featuring Serj Tankian - "Don't Go Off Wondering" (Demo) - Demo for Significant Other
  • 2000/2006: (həd) p.e. featuring Serj Tankian and Morgan Lander - "Feel Good" - Broke and The Best of (həd) Planet Earth
  • 2000: Tony Iommi featuring Serj Tankian - "Patterns" - Iommi
  • 2000: Snot featuring Serj Tankian - "Starlit Eyes" - Strait Up[6]
  • 2001: Dog Fashion Disco featuring Serj Tankian - "Mushroom Cult" - Anarchists of Good Taste
  • 2003: Serj Tankian - "Bird of Paradise" - Bird Up!: The Charlie Parker Remix Project
  • 2004: Saul Williams - "Talk to Strangers" - Saul Williams (Serj provides the piano on this track)
  • 2003: Kittens for Christian featuring Serj Tankian - "Had a Plan" - Privilege of Your Company
  • 2005: Buckethead featuring Serj Tankian - "We Are One" - Enter the Chicken and Masters of Horror Soundtrack
  • 2005: Buckethead featuring Azam Ali and Serj Tankian - "Coma" - Enter the Chicken
  • 2005: Buckethead featuring Shana Halligan and Serj Tankian - "Waiting Hare" - Enter the Chicken
  • 2006: Deftones featuring Serj Tankian - "Mein" - Saturday Night Wrist
  • 2007: Les Rita Mitsouko featuring Serj Tankian - "Terminal Beauty" - Variéty
  • 2007: Serj Tankian - "Bug Theme" - Bug Soundtrack
  • 2007: Serj Tankian and Petra Jolly - "Innermission" - Bug Soundtrack
  • 2007: Serj Tankian - "The Essenece of Tequila" - Stranglehold
  • 2007: Serj Tankian - "Chicakong" - Stranglehold.
  • 2007: Wyclef Jean featuring Serj Tankian and Sizzla - "Riot (Trouble Again)" - Carnival Vol. II: Memoirs of an Immigrant
  • 2008: Praxis featuring Serj Tankian - "Sulfur and Cheese" - Profanation (Preparation for a Coming Darkness)[7]

Live Performances[]

  • 1999: Fear Factory featuring Serj Tankian - "Cars"
  • 2000: Incubus featuring Serj Tankian - Live Improvisation
  • 2000: Metallica featuring Serj Tankian and Daron Malakian - "Mastertarium" ("Welcome Home (Sanitarium)" part)
  • 2006: Buckethead featuring Shana Halligan and Serj Tankian - "Waiting Hare"
  • 2007: Tool featuring Serj Tankian - "Sober" (improvisational version) - Big Day Out 2007 (Auckland only)
  • 2007: Fair to Midland featuring Serj Tankian - "Walls of Jericho" (improvisational version) - Coachella 2007
  • 2007: Foo Fighters featuring Serj Tankian - "Holiday in Cambodia" - 2007 MTV Video Music Awards
  • 2008: The Nightwatchman (acoustic) featuring Serj Tankian - "Lazarus on Down" - Big Day Out 2008 (Auckland only)


  • 2005: M.I.A. - "Galang" (Serj Tankian Remix) - Galang '05
  • 2006: Dredg - "Ode to the Sun" (Serj Tankian Remix) (Unreleased)
  • 2006: The Notorious B.I.G. - "Who Shot Ya?" (Serj Tankian Remix) - Marc Eckō's Getting Up: Contents Under Pressure[8]



  • In 2006, System of a Down won their first Grammy for Best Hard Rock Performance for "B.Y.O.B."
  • In 2006, they won the "MTV Good Woodie Award" for their song "Question!".
  • In 2006, they were #14 on the VH1 Top 40 Metal Songs with "Toxicity".
  • In 2007, they were nominated for a Grammy Award in Best Hard Rock Performance for their song "Lonely Day".


Song name Album Director
"The Unthinking Majority" Elect the Dead (2007) Tawd b. Dorenfeld
"Empty Walls" Elect the Dead (2007) Tony Petrossian
"Saving Us" Elect the Dead (2007) Kevin Estrada
"Feed Us" Elect the Dead (2007) Sevag Vrej
"Lie Lie Lie" Elect the Dead (2007) Martha Colburn
"Honking Antelope" Elect the Dead (2007) Roger Kupelian
"Elect the Dead" Elect the Dead (2007) Gariné Torossian
"Baby" Elect the Dead (2007) Isaac "Eye-Sack" Flores
"Sky is Over" (independent video) Elect the Dead (2007) José Rivera
"Beethoven's Cunt" Elect the Dead (2007) Adam Egypt Mortimer
"Money" Elect the Dead (2007) Ara Soudjian
"Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition" Elect the Dead (2007) Greg Watermann
"Sky is Over" (official video) Elect the Dead (2008) Tony Petrossian and Ara Soudjian


  • Fender Stratocaster
  • Various Marshall 1/2 stacks
  • Gibson SG
  • Gibson Les Paul
  • Gibson Flying V
  • Roland VS-1680
  • BOSS DR-202 Dr. Groove
  • Ibanez Grg170dx
  • BOSS GT-5 Guitar Effects Processor
  • BOSS DS-1 Distortion
  • BOSS CH-1 Super Chorus[citation needed]
  • Korg Triton
  • Custom First Act Double Cutaway Lola
  • Roland SH-101


External links[]

NAME Tankian, Serj
DATE OF BIRTH August 21, 1967
PLACE OF BIRTH Beirut, Lebanon