System Of A Down frontman Serj Tankian has explained the message behind the ‘Wake Up the Souls’ tour.
“We are doing a tour called ‘Wake Up the Souls’ to further spread awareness having to do with the Armenian genocide, first genocide of the 20th century and put pressure on the Turkish Parliament to kind of come to grips with its own history and deal with the massacres of the first world war,” Tankian told the Billboard.
“We’ve done the soul shows before, and this is kind of a growth of that. It will be the first time that we played in Armenia in Republic Square, giant free show, we’re gonna televise that around the world, or stream it, whatever you want to call it. So it’s gonna be really unique and beautiful, and so we’re looking forward to it.”
The band just announced an April 6 date in Los Angeles at the Forum. That will be part of a very brief run. “We’re only doing eight dates, and they’re all World War I countries in some ways, which is interesting.”
To Tankian, the actual concerts are a very small part of delivering their message. “The show itself is only one part of the message, because the streaming worldwide of a show in Armenia having to do with the genocide, the press around it, the press conferences we’re going to do in each major capital around it, that’s going to reach probably more people than actual ticket-holders at the show,” he said. “That said, we’ve talked about this many times: Music’s power of transcendence having to do with reaching people’s consciousness is unique. It’s an incredible thing, and you know I’ve always paid attention to it and respected it.”
As he’s gotten older, Tankian has found role models he admires for the way they mix music and social consciousness. “I didn’t have musical heroes growing up; now I do. I look back at someone like John Lennon, his simple words, ‘War is over’ for example, the idea of visualization combined with music, combined with that type of audience is genius. And all he was doing is following his vision and being true to himself, which hopefully all artists are,” he says. “Bob Marley was genius too, making people dance to socially conscious music is like doing two things simultaneously because the motion of dance is a positive spiritual existence. And getting the messages through at the same time is incredible.”