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System of a Down at Talking Stick Arena with Guests

October 16, 2018 @ 7:00 pm - 11:30 pm

This metal alternative band from Los Angeles, California, USA, comprises three members of Armenian heritage, Serj Tankian (b. 1968, USA; vocals), Daron Malakian (b. 1976, USA; guitar) and Shavo Odadjian (bass), and John Dolmayan (drums). Tankian, Malakian and Odadjian first played together in 1993 as Soil, renaming themselves System Of A Down, from a poem by Malakian, in 1995.

Recruiting drummer Dolmayan they built up a following on the southern California circuit with their explosive live act. Rick Rubin, who, in September 1997, made the band the first new act on his American Recordings label, spotted them playing at Hollywood’s Viper Room. Their debut album, released in June 1998, was recorded at the Sound City studios with Rubin and Dave Sardy acting as producers.

The band’s heady fusion of alternative metal and programmed beats was augmented by subtle Eastern European influences, earning them comparisons to contemporary metal bands such as Korn and the Deftones. The band’s political agenda raised their aggro-metal to another level, however, with songs such as “P.L.U.C.K.” (“Politically, Lying, Unholy, Cowardly Killers”) and live favourite “War?’ refusing to draw a veil over atrocities committed in their homeland.

The band subsequently enjoyed high-profile touring slots with Slayer and on summer 1998″s Ozzfest, and confirmed their status as one of the leading rock acts of the new millennium with the release of Toxicity.

System of a Down has confirmed that Disc One (“Mezmerize”) from the band’s 2-disc set, “Mezmerize/Hypnotize,” will be released on May 17, 2005. Disc Two (“Hypnotize”) is expected to see a late fall release.

The first single from “Mezmerize/Hypnotize” will be the track “B.Y.O.B.” [Bring Your Own Bombs] which will hit the airwaves this month. The song, which questions a president’s involvement in the business of war, balances a near-R&B groove – “Everybody’s going to the party have a real good time/Dancing in the desert blowing up the sunshine” – with the song’s recurring demand, “Why don’t presidents fight the war?/Why do they always send the poor?/Why do they always send the poor?”

System of a Down have relaunched their website – www.systemofadown.com. The revamped site will offer intriguing glimpses of the artwork for “Mezmerize/Hypnotize,” much of which was designed and painted by Vartan Malakian, guitarist/producer Daron Malakian’s father.

System of a Down wrote some thirty tracks for “Mezmerize/Hypnotize” and recorded them at producer Rick Rubin’s Laurel Canyon studio between June and November of 2004. The album was produced by Rubin and Daron Malakian and mixed by Andy Wallace, who also mixed “Toxicity” and “Steal This Album!” The new songs are more complex, more progressive, more unorthodox, and more experimental than ever, while retaining the idiosyncratic, ironic and schizophrenic qualities that make System of a Down so distinctive. Topics include relationships, the evils of television and corporate mind control, the mysteries of life and death, and a surreal experience at a celebrity baseball game. Some of the song titles are “Radio Video,” “Old School Hollywood,” “Cigaro,” “Lost in Hollywood,” “Question,” “Vicinity of Obscenity” and “Revenga.” The decision to release the two discs six months apart was made simply to give fans time to get into and really live with the music from Disc One before plunging into Disc Two.

“Mezmerize /Hypnotize” will be the follow-up to the nearly six-million-selling “Toxicity” which was released in September 2001 and debuted in the Number One position on the Billboard/Soundscan charts. Of that album, Rolling Stone wrote, “‘Toxicity’ resembles nothing else in contemporary hard rock,” and the New York Times commented, “System of a Down is light years removed from the going trend in metal.” “Toxicity” generated four Top 10 singles, including the #1 smash “Aerials,” and was named “2001’s Best Album of the Year” by SPIN Magazine. Entertainment Weekly named “Mezmerize/Hypnotize” the #1 (of 25) Most Anticipated Albums.

The Poincaré recurrence theorem posits certain mathematical systems will resume a state closely resembling their initial state following a finite length of time.

Upholding this theory, it only took 15 years for At The Drive In to return to the studio and record the follow-up to 2000’s seminal Relationship of Command and the El Paso, TX-born band’s fourth full-length album, IN·TER A·LI·A [Rise Records]. Life’s circular current delivered the quintet—Cedric Bixler [vocals], Omar Rodriguez-Lopez [guitar], Paul Hinojos [bass], Tony Hajjar [drums], and Keeley Davis [guitar]—back to this point with the same sound and fury that indisputably defined a turn-of-century musical movement. Now, the group siphon their signature controlled chaos with tendrils of punk energy and avant garde fearlessness through a clearer lens of wisdom and experience.

“We still get in the room and feel like it’s the first day,” admits Tony. “When we get together, there’s this uneasiness, excitement, and youthful joy.  We used everything we learned over the years, but we remembered that this is At The Drive In. When it came to this band, we always likened it to a gang. That’s how we lived. To this day, I still feel that us against the world mentality. It works for us in the chemical equation. For all intents and purposes, we started in a garage. We played all of the basements we could, and we moved up to kitchens. We’re still that band in our heads.”

“It was about getting back to that primordial self,” adds Cedric. “We essentially agreed, ‘We need to honor the last record. We need to go forward, be the fucking core of what we are, and ignore everything we learned in our years apart.’ It was a great lesson in communication. We wanted to honor the fan base and the frame of mind of being young. Most of us have children. It’s very easy for me to access that wonder where there really shouldn’t be any rules.”

At The Drive In’s beginnings can be traced back to Omar’s garage where the boys jammed for countless hours in 1993. Moving from D.I.Y. underground El Paso, TX shows to local clubs, they quietly built a loyal following. The band’s debut, Acrobatic Tenement, arrived in 1996 followed by 1998’s In/Casino/Out and Vaya in 1999 each of which saw quantum leaps in the band’s sonic vocabulary and proficiency, amplifying buzz and landing them on tours including an arena run supporting Rage Against the Machine. The creative apex of their first 7 years, Relationship of Command, released in 2000, quickly earned the reputation it holds to this day as one of the century’s most incendiary and influential albums. It holds a place on Spin’s “The 300 Best Albums of the Past 30 Years (1985-2014)” list, Kerrang!’s “50 Greatest Albums of the 21st Century,” Rock Sound’s “101 Modern Classics,” Uncut Magazine’s “150 Albums of the Decade,” MTV2’s “Greatest Albums Ever,” Guitar World’s “100 Greatest Guitar Albums of All-Time,” and many more. Propelled by instant classics “One Armed Scissor” and “Invalid Litter Dept.,” Relationship of Command elevated At The Drive In into the Billboard Top 200, while the intensity and draw of its live show grew exponentially.

This barreling momentum grounded to a halt with the sudden announcement of a hiatus in 2001 as the band remained dormant for more than a decade. Conversations about “new music” began gestating when the guys made their high-profile comeback as a Coachella and Lollapalooza 2012 headliner. However, it took another three years of conversations, cultivating trust, and honing communication…

“In 2014, we got together and just talked 60% of the time, while we put pieces of music together,” recalls Tony. “We accomplished a lot of moving ground per se and started digging the whole foundation. In October 2015, we decided that hell or high water we were going to do another album. People may have different impressions of what the right way to do this was, but it was our right way.”

“It was the sheer will of actually wanting to do it,” says Cedric. “It was a hell of a fucking challenge, but there’s nothing like the sheer will of five people blasting on ten.”

The musicians spent 2016 on their first proper tour since 2001. Their travels took them from a sold out run in North America to explosive appearances everywhere from Denmark’s Roskilde and Splendour in the Grass down under to Summer Sonic in Japan. During a nine-day spell in Seoul, South Korea, they finally hit their stride writing new music in a tiny rented studio.

“There was a disciplinary timeframe in which we could work, because the studio doubled as a house for the guy who owned it,” Cedric continues. “We could only go from 10am until 7pm. We were really forced to go back to the way we used to rehearse. It was the same thing in 1996 at Omar’s garage. We’d meet in the morning and jam for a good chunk of time. It opened up the floodgates.”

Galvanized by the creativity in South Korea, the band landed stateside, took a short break, began preproduction prior to officially entering  Sound Factory studio in Hollywood, CA during November 2016 to cut IN·TER A·LI·A. Produced by Omar and Rich Costey [Muse, Sigur Rós, Santigold], it marked the first time a band member helmed production for an the At The Drive In album, while Tony would meticulously oversee mixing and mastering. Burning through incendiary takes, recording wrapped in under a month.

“I’ve never personally done a record that a bandmate was producing,” states Tony. “We all have so much trust in each other. We know what we’re good at, and we put our trust into Omar. He stayed focused on the end result. It’s everything we hoped for.”

It’s everything audiences have hoped for as well. The group uncorked the first single “Governed By Contagions” in December 2016, and its ominous delivery, caustic musicality, and claustrophobic intensity enamored fans and tastemakers alike with New York TimesNPRVultureSpin, and Rolling Stone immediately extolling it. Elsewhere on the record, “Incurably Innocent” pits spacey phaser and thrash-y riffing against a sidewinder hook and siren wail. “It’s a song about sexual abuse and being able to finally speak out,” admits Cedric.

The album commences on the thunderous chant of “No Wolf Like The Present” and twists and turns through a 41-minute whirling wormhole of pure poetic punk catharsis before culminating on the cinematic intensity of closer “Hostage Stamps.” “To me, it’s like walking through the hallway in some war-torn ghetto and reading the writing on the wall,” continues the singer. “Keep your ear to the ground and listen to the heartbeat of young people.”

The album title, Latin for ‘Among other things, proves utterly apropos. “It’s a snapshot of life right now and the inevitability of where we might be headed,” Cedric explains. “It reminds me of the last scene in Chinatown where Jack Nicholson is told, ‘It’s Chinatown,’ as an explanation for the fucked-up nature of things. You can’t do shit about it. I don’t think it points a finger at any one source or cause. If anything, it points the finger at the person holding the record and says, ‘What are you going to do.’ Maybe we should stop focusing on the funeral march and start focusing on the younger generation. The problem is buried within layers of red tape and small print, but we don’t have to repeat it.”

Thankfully, 16 years later, we have At The Drive In back in the same spot, doing what they do best—rewriting all the rules.

“After all this time, At The Drive In still means brotherhood, that gang mentality, and now more than ever, it means family,” Tony leaves off. “Because we have our own families, we’re older and wiser, and we understand each other a lot more. Recently, Cedric texted me, ‘We conquered a fucking mountain.’ That really resonated with me. I just wrote back in all caps, ‘A FUCKING MOUNTAIN.’ It’s so true. It took a lot of tears, stories, hugs, and hard work to make this record. We were only able to accomplish it because we have the utmost respect for each other’s talents. We’re here.” – Rick Florino, February 1, 2017

A punishing extreme metal outfit based out of Athens, Ohio, Skeletonwitch employs an uncompromising blend of no-frills thrash and melodic death metal. Drawing the bulk of their inspiration from artists and musical styles born all of two decades earlier: namely the undying flame of classic Bay Area thrash; its creative bedrock in the New Wave of British Heavy Metal; and, to a lesser degree, death, black, and Viking metal, the band emerged in 2004 with the taut At One with the Shadows. A move to Prosthetic Records in 2007 signaled a shift from straight-up thrash to a less unhinged amalgam of speed, might, and darkness, an aesthetic that was most pronounced on the group’s sixth studio long-player, the black metal-forward Devouring Radiant Light.

The group was founded in 2003 around the talents of Chance Garnette (vocals), Nate Garnette (guitar), Scott “Scunty D” Hedrick (guitar), Eric Harris (bass), and Derrick Nau(drums). First introduced via 2004’s independently released At One with the Shadows album and 2006’s Worship the Witch EP, Skeletonwitch‘s retro-fitted yet modernly executed creative vision arguably reached a new level of maturity with 2007’s Beyond the Permafrost full-length, their first for Prosthetic Records. After some hefty touring, Chance and Nate GarnetteHedrickNau, and bassist Evan Lingerheaded into the studio to begin work on album number two. The resulting Breathing the Fire dropped in 2009 and debuted at number 151 on the Billboard 200 chart. Arriving in 2011, Forever Abomination was the first Skeletonwitch outing to feature new drummer Dustin Boltjes, and 2013’s critically acclaimed Serpents Unleashed — producer Kurt Balloumanaged to successfully capture the group’s savage live sound — reached number 62 but would prove to be the last go-’round for vocalist Chance Garnette, who was fired in 2015 due to his substance abuse problems. The following year saw the band add Wolvhammer vocalist Adam Clemans to the roster and release a new EP, The Apothic Gloom, which leaned heavier on the Nordic and black metal end of the spectrum, due in large part to Clemans‘ more militant vocal style. 2018’s full-length Devouring Radiant Light continued this approach by navigating a clear path between nuance and savagery.