What’s it like being on tour without System of a Down for the first time?
It’s cool. I’m with a great bunch of guys, good players, kind personalities and modest gentlemen and having a good time. It’s going really well so far. It’s been exciting—awesome audiences, and great responses. But I’ve jammed with a lot of artists onstage before, improvised and done whole sets with other bands, so this isn’t that different. To me, the beauty of letting music go through us is awesome.
Having not been the primary songwriter in System, do the 12 songs you wrote for [solo disc] Elect the Dead showcase a side of you that’s been yearning to bust free?
I wrote some music for System, but Daron [Malakian] did bring in the majority of the music for the band. So people maybe don’t know me as a songwriter and as a multi-instrumentalist; they know me as a lead singer and lyricist. But I have a huge archive of songs: electronic stuff to acoustic, orchestral stuff to experimental, rock, pop, goth, noise. I just write music all the time. A lot of these were songs that I had written in demo form on piano or acoustic guitar, and I also wrote new songs last year [for the album]. I was just very inspired to write. And I ended up producing it myself as well, and playing the majority of the instruments. I approached it as a composer rather than as a band, because I didn’t have a band.
What made you decide to release a video for every song on the album?
There were two reasons for that. Number one, to multiply the art factor of the record utilizing other media. I have a lot of director friends that I’ve worked with in the past, and I really wanted to get their take on the songs and see what they’d come up with. I gave them the song and a small budget and let their passions go wild. The second reason is that it makes more sense today to have more material and tools to connect with the public. With file-sharing and everything going on, we have to present more to our fans, give more to our fans than ever before. And instead of fighting that, I’m all about embracing it.
With Death By Stereo. October 25, 8 p.m., $25. House of Blues, 632-7600.