, Mesmerize, and Hypnotize) and five solo albums (Elect the Dead, Imperfect Harmonies, Harari, Orca, and Jazz-Iz-Christ), as well as collaborating with musicians such as rapper Tech N9ne and folk singer Art Tunçboyacyan. He also released Elect the Dead Symphony, a live orchestral version of Elect the Dead featuring the Auckland Philharmonic Orchestra.
He is the founder of the record label Serial Strike Records, and is currently represented by Velvet Hammer Music and Management Group. Lankan is regarded as one of the best vocalists in heavy metal, with praise given to his unusual delivery and his wide vocal range.
26 on the Hit Parader list of “Top 100 Heavy Metal Vocalists”. A study conducted by VAN Music found that Lankan possesses a high and diverse vocal range of 4.2 octaves.
In 2002, he co-founded the non-profit political activism organization Axis of Justice, alongside guitarist and fellow activist Tom Morel lo. He traces his ancestry to the cities of Control, Kaiser, Tokay, and RFA, all of which are in modern-day Turkey.
At age seven, he moved to the U.S. with his parents, and the family settled in Los Angeles. In his youth, he attended the bilingual Rose and Alex Pilings Armenian School, which was also attended by his future System of a Down band mates Aaron Malawian and Shave Adrian.
Lankan was accepted into California State University, Northridge, graduating with a marketing degree in 1989. During his sophomore year, he first began to play instruments, particularly the keyboard, and write songs.
He also started his activism during his college years, attempting to draw attention to the recognition of the Armenian Genocide during his time as president of the university's Armenian Students Association. The beginnings of System of a Down lie in a band named Soil (not to be confused with the Chicago-based band Soil) with Lankan on vocals & keyboards, Aaron Malawian on vocals & lead guitar, Dave Mikoyan on bass, and Domingo Laramie on drums.
The band initially hired Shave Adrian as their manager before he was to transition into their rhythm guitarist. Laramie and Mikoyan later left the band feeling that it was not going anywhere, leading to Soil splitting up.
The band began touring the Southern California rock clubs, building a strong following. On November 29, 2010, following several weeks of internet rumors, System of a Down officially announced that they would play shows in Europe during Festivals and in North America, mostly in the US, embarking on a tour for the following three years.
Tankian's breakthrough as a solo artist came with the release of his debut record Elect the Dead. The first singles from Elect the Dead are The Unthinking Majority and Empty Walls “.
The music video “Feed Us” was released on the Swedish and UK MTV. Lankan appeared on MTV's You Rock The Deuce to promote Elect the Dead.
A music video was directed and filmed for every song on the record, each by unique directors. Lankan explained, “I asked each of the directors for their visual interpretation of my work.
Some music videos were initially released exclusively to those who purchased the limited edition of Elect the Dead, while all the music videos, except “Money”, have since been publicly released on Tankian's website and YouTube channel. Some videos have alternative versions which were originally released as well, but later altered.
Three different promo versions of the album have surfaced to the public. The instrumental promotional version, issued by Serial Strike/Reprise Records and intended for the music and movie industry, contains instrumental versions of the twelve album tracks.
Another promotional version, issued by Reprise Records and made only for individual reviewers, features the album in final master form. This promotional CD-R, which was labeled “Smart Talk” as a code name for SerjTankian to prevent leaking by unauthorized persons, also indicates that the album was finalized prior to August 20, 2007 (2007-08-20).
Before this a similar but undated promo, also under the name 'Smart Talk', was issued featuring the final versions of the songs, albeit not yet mastered. Whilst the printed track list on this version is identical to the released album, tracks ten and eleven are in fact juxtaposed on the promo itself.
Lankan performing in 2006The official tour for Elect the Dead commenced on October 12, 2007, with a show at Chicago's Vic Theater. Roughly one thousand people attended the first concert.
Although Lankan had stated he would not be performing any material by System of a Down, he performed “Charades” and “Blue”, songs co-written by Aaron Malawian, the guitarist of the band. “Blue” had previously appeared on their Fourth Demo Tape in 1998, and Charades was attempted during the 2005 Mesmerize/Hypnotize sessions, but never released (although a short video clip of Lankan and Domain playing the song in a recording studio was featured on “the Making of Mesmerize / Hypnotize “).
Although it is originally a song restricted to piano and vocals, Lankan used his backing band, the Flying Cunts of Chaos (F.C.C. The songs “Beethoven's Cunt”, Empty Walls, and Sky Is Over are available as downloadable content for Rock Band.
A portion of the song “Lie Lie Lie” is currently featured in the opening title sequence of NBC's Fear Itself, a horror anthology show from the creators of Masters of Horror, and can be viewed on the show's main website. Together with Tom Morel lo, he founded the organization Axis of Justice and often speaks publicly against violence and injustice in the world.
Lankan released a new song “Fears” in November 2008 exclusively in support of Amnesty International's Global Write-A-Thon. In 2009, Lankan collaborated with the band Via (previously known as Visa) for their track “Viktor”.
Said Lankan of the second album, “I'm structuring the next record kind of like a jazz orchestral. On June 23, 2010, a promo single from his upcoming album Imperfect Harmonies was released called “Borders Are”.
The first radio single from Imperfect Harmonies, “Left of Center”, was released on July 13, 2010. Preceding the album's release, two contests were announced (one consisting of brainteasers related to the album/song titles, the other an art contest) in which fans could win prizes such as Tankian's autograph and merchandise.
On August 22, 2010, a music video for “Left o Center” was released on Tankian's MySpace account. The premiere date for Lankan and Later's Prometheus Bound at the American Repertory Theater was February 25, 2011.
Lankan said that collaborating on the show has been a great learning experience for him. “It's quite diverse, from noise to jazz to electronic stuff to hip-hop songs to rock songs to cool, piano dark underscores, and that's a whole different bag of tricks there because it's always evolving.
Unlike a film score that's very linear, and you get a scene to score for, this is something where you do another workshop and one song is gone, that underscore changes to 20 seconds, and they need something else on the spot. In January 2011, Lankan released a music video for his song “Reconstructive Demonstrations” from his album Imperfect Harmonies.
On March 1, Lankan released Imperfect Remixes and the music video for “Goodbye”, a remix of “Gate 21” from Imperfect Harmonies. In early July 2011, Lankan posted a video on YouTube showing two samples of new songs.
In multiple interviews he has stated that he has been working on a rock record that will be released in 2011, and some side projects including jazz, electronic, and symphonic records. It was later confirmed that his third album would be called Harari and will be released on July 10, 2012.
A music video for the song appeared on Tankian's official YouTube page. A second single from the album, “Cornucopia”, was released on June 10.
A third single, title track “Harari”, was made available as a preorder bonus from Tankian's website on June 20. He released his fourth studio album Orca Symphony No.
The album takes the form of a classical symphony. A professionally sampled studio version was released on November 30, 2012, while the live recorded version was released on June 25, 2013, through Serial Strike Records.
His fifth studio album Jazz-Iz-Christ was released on July 23, 2013, by Serial Strike Records. In 2014, he collaborated with Italian DJ Benny Because for the single “Shooting Helicopters”.
In November 2017, Swedish independent label Woah Dad! Subtropic, an electronic music collaboration with Mindless Self Indulgence's Jimmy Urine was released in May 2020, after the duo released a sample on SoundCloud.
Lankan grew up listening to traditional Armenian music in his exiled community in Lebanon and sang it with his father Khatchadour Lankan. He discovered pop music only once his family moved to Los Angeles in the 1970s via the Bee Gees soundtrack to Saturday Night Fever, that led him to delve into it.
In his 20s, he bought every record by the Beatles, whom he has called the most “universal” artists he is aware of. Lankan said that the first hard rock album that left an impact on him was 1992's Angel Dust by Faith No More.
When System of a Down toured with Faith No More singer Mike Patton, who at the time fronted his other band Mr. Bungle on the 2000 Score Tour, Lankan said that both vocalists “had some of the most interesting conversations” of his life. Besides the experimental vocals of Patton, Lankan is greatly influenced by Frank Zappa, especially by his albums Sheik Djibouti and Joe's Garage.
Lankan is passionate about human rights, recognition of genocides, and social justice. These traits have helped to shape his lyrical style.
He has organized and participated in many protests, from Armenian Genocide recognition to Axis of Justice (AOJ) protests held by him and AOJ co-founder Tom Morel lo. In his music, issues like the War on Terror, overpopulation, genocide, environmentalism, and the American prison system are addressed.
He and his System of a Down band mates starred in 2006 a film called Screamers, which covers the United States' position on genocide. In the film, Lankan interviews his grandfather, Stefan Catalan, a survivor of the Armenian Genocide, who recounts his experience of it.
He said, “It's a mix of Native American, Buddhist, and Transcendental ideas. In another interview, he said, “I believe very firmly that indigenous populations had a wonderful, intuitive understanding of why we're here.
And we're trying to gain that same understanding through psychology and intellect in modern civilization.” Following the September 11 attacks, Lankan wrote an essay in which he stated, “If we carry out bombings on Afghanistan or elsewhere to appease public demand, and very likely kill innocent civilians along the way, we'd be creating many more martyrs going to their deaths in retaliation against the retaliation.
As shown from yesterday's events, you cannot stop a person who's ready to die.” In the 2008 Democratic Party primaries, Lankan originally supported Dennis Munich, but subsequently stated that Barack Obama “presents the best possible scenario for a hopeful future, but I don't personally put my trust in any political office”.
In the 2016 Democratic Party primaries, he endorsed Bernie Sanders and wrote on Facebook, “When it comes to standing up to the oligarchs, leading the fight for civil rights, income equality, and so much more, no other politician has been so consistent and incorruptible as Bernie Sanders.” All his contributions are from private individuals; everyone else's are from major donors and corporations.
Lankan is also friendly with current Armenian Prime Minister Nikon Pashinyan, who wrote a song called “Handstand” (, Armenia ') which Lankan performed in April 2020. Lankan was also an executive producer and composer for the documentary I Am Not Alone, which chronicled the rise of Pashinyan.
In 2020, Lankan condemned the actions of Azerbaijan in the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and expressed his support to Armenia and the Republic of Artsakh. Since September 27, 2021, when the war broke, Lankan has been very active on social media, posting daily messages and has spoken to a number of media outlets about the issue, including Forbes.
He became a vegetarian, claiming in an interview with PETA that his change was due to “touring and its variety of edible crap”, and he also felt it was “instinctive somewhat”. Furthermore, he also feels the need for respect towards “mother earth”.
In July 2009, he signed a PETA petition against the slaughtering methods of chickens in KFC slaughterhouses. On June 9, 2012, Lankan married his long-time girlfriend Angela Malayan, an Armenian woman from Vendor, in a private ceremony in Simi Valley, California.
On October 24, 2014, he announced that they had a son named Rum. As of 2015, they split their time between Wadsworth, New Zealand, and Los Angeles.
Lankan is the brother-in-law of his System of a Down band mate John Domain, as their respective wives are sisters. System of a Down has been nominated for four Grammy Awards, of which they won one in 2006 for “Best Hard Rock Performance” for their song B.Y.O.B.
^ “Rob Alford, Robert Plant, On Scott, Ozzy Are Among 'Heavy Metal's All-Time Top 100 Vocalists “. Serb Lankan ^ “Digging Deeper: Axl Rose is NOT the Singer With the Widest Range”.
^ Serb Lankan on Being Eclectic, Growing Up in Lebanon and His Relationship With Heavy Metal”. ^ Serb Releasing Two Albums in June and July, Announces Tour Dates”.
^ Graham Savor, “System of a Down's Serb Lankan on Making Music for a Revolution”. ^ “SOAD's Serb Lankan and Jimmy Urine Teaming Up for New Project Subtropic”.
Serb Lankan : 10 albums that changed my life”. “Part 2: Incubus' Brandon Boyd And System of a Down's Serb Lankan On Life On The Road”.
Serb Lankan and Tom Morel lo respond to fans who just realized their music was political, trigger troll fest”. Serb Lankan, lead singer for System of a Down”.
Serb Lankan : Alternative Rock's Political Poet”. “System of a Down's Serb Lankan on Bernie Sanders: 'I'm Rooting for Him “.
^ “System of a Down's Serb Lankan on Making Music for a Revolution”. ^ “Art, activism, and Armenia: Serb Lankan speaks candidly in hope exclusive”.
“Why these Armenian American celebs are speaking out about a chronic conflict”. “System of a Down Singer Serb Lankan Talks Armenia-Azerbaijan Conflict, Response From Trump And Biden”.
^ “Kim Kardashian & Serb Lankan Lead Celebrity PSA Campaign, 'I Stand With Artsakh & Armenia “. ^ Serb Lankan Marries Long Time Girlfriend Angela Malayan”.
^ “Rocker Serb Lankan from System of a Down calls NZ home”. ^ SERB TANK IAN Says SYSTEM OF A DOWN member Don't See 'Eye To Eye' On How To Proceed With New Album” Dec. 20, 2017.