System of a Down
"Manic music desires manic playing." That’s what the self-admittedly unorthodox drummer John Dolmayan told Modern Drummer magazine when describing his role with the top band System of a Down.
Over the period 2000 to 2005, System of a Down has gone from an obscure LA-based metal band to an internationally acclaimed hard rock group. It is a band distinguished by complexity of songwriting and an overriding willingness to shatter even its own successful formulas in search of new sounds and directions.
John Dolmayan is very much at the heart of this relentless quest for diversity. Back in 2002, when his band released its hugely successful album Toxicity, John was combining LP percussion instruments with the kit, notably the timbales—not exactly instruments in a typical heavy rocker drummer’s arsenal!
Dolmayan’s search for new sounds continued with the release of Mesmerize and Hypnotize. Recently he has been incorporating other LP catalog items, such as mini-timbales (check out the track “Hypnotize”) and the Giovanni Compact Conga. Once content with a single bass drum with double pedals, he has been exploring the use of two separate drums, again for reasons of multiple timbres rather than sheer power.
Born on July 15, 1971 in Lebanon to Armenian parents, John experienced the war torn Middle East. He literally dodged bullets until around age five when his parents emigrated to Canada before finally settling in the States. In Canada, John got his first drumset and from an early age knew that his calling was music. He has told Modern Drummer and other trade magazines that, as a youth attending concerts, he realized that his life’s path would take him to the stadiums of the world. Meanwhile, during his formative years he was surrounded by music that spanned the stylistic gamut from Armenian folkloric to American jazz. Perhaps this accounts for John’s willingness to embrace seemingly disparate styles and sounds. Influenced by a multitude of world musics and musicians, John advises young drummers to seek their own style and forgo copying any single player.
John Dolmayan has enjoyed a long association with LP, almost since the inception of his band System of a Down.