Down with the System

A Memoir (of Sorts)


By Serj Tankian

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$39.00 CAD

This item is a preorder. Your payment method will be charged immediately, and the product is expected to ship on or around May 14, 2024. This date is subject to change due to shipping delays beyond our control.



An exhilarating, thoughtful, and beautifully written memoir by musician, songwriter, and lead singer-lyricist of Grammy award-winning metal band, System Of A Down, Serj Tankian. 

Serj Tankian will be the first to admit that his band, System Of A Down, was “unlikely a chart-topper as had ever existed in modern music history: a band of Armenian-Americans playing a practically unclassifiable clash of wildly aggressive metal riffs, unconventional tempo-twisting rhythms, and Armenian folk melodies, with me alternately growling, screaming, and crooning lyrics that could pivot from avant-garde silliness to raging socio-political rants in the space of a single line.” After all, as Serj concedes, “it’s not easy listening.”
Even so, there’s no doubt that System’s music had struck a chord with millions of listeners across the globe ever since they burst on the scene in the mid-1990s. With nearly 40 million album sales, three albums topping the Billboard charts, and a devoted legion of fans, the band dominated the alt-rock and metal scenes just as the world hurtled into a new millennium, redefining the very idea of what rockstars could and couldn’t talk about, could and couldn’t do, could and couldn’t represent. 
In DOWN WITH THE SYSTEM, Serj presents readers with a memoir that is far more than just a rock 'n' roll fable. It's an immigrant's tale, it’s an activist's awakening, and it's a spiritual journey from darkness toward light. And all of this comes down to the fact that Serj himself has had the chance to live an extraordinary life—thanks to a combination of luck, circumstance, struggle, talent, and spiritual awakening. Born to Armenian parents in Beirut, Serj grows up hearing bombs drop outside his childhood home during the country’s civil war, before moving to Los Angeles at the age of seven. As a young man, he is immersed in the SoCal community of “Little Armenia,” learning more and more about the brutal genocide faced by his ancestors while helping his parents adapt to the constraints and contradictions of the American Dream. Then, during a pivotal drive home from an LSAT class, Serj decides to turn away from a promising future in business and law to make music instead—a decision that leads him to touring five continents as the lead singer of a hugely popular rock band, hitting number #1 on the Billboard album charts the morning of 9/11, and then having the hit single from the same album banned from radio two days later. In the years that follow, his uniquely singular story continues, as he evades glass bottles hurled at a cancelled show by angry Slayer fans, teams up with Tom Morello to push social justice causes on unsuspecting metalheads, argues with LAPD officers over the best way to quell rioting fans, and defines new sounds and singing tactics with Rick Rubin. 
Braiding together Serj’s thought-provoking insight with heartfelt and poetic prose, DOWN WITH THE SYSTEM retraces Serj’s remarkable and unlikely journey, and explores what it’s taught him—about music, about art, about activism, and about himself. It’s an unforgettable ride that will leave you breathless—and an absolute delight for new fans and old ones alike. 


    *USA TODAY Bestseller*

    *SUNDAY TIMES Bestseller**

  • “Serj Tankian is a demonic/angelic visionary and his new memoir-festo is pure fire. This book is searing, inspiring, and entertaining as hell.”
    Rainn Wilson
  • "My great friend, Serj Tankian, is not just an influential and groundbreaking musician and singer, but he also has a deep poetic soul which shines through in his songs, his politics, and his personal life. From his thunderous career with System Of A Down to his relentless advocacy for human rights, this book reveals the life of a true artist of the people."
    Tom Morello
  • “Serj has a way with words. Just listen to System Of A Down to find out. Now we get to experience a whole book of his words.”
    Rick Rubin
  • "A very satisfying and potent account of Serj Tankian's wild journey from Beirut to California to Yerevan.  It's a journal recounting the crazy birth of System Of A Down, but it's also a manifesto about politics and art. It's cool and it's hot, just like System. Ultimately, it's the story of one man's melding of political fire, creative juices, and spirituality. I loved living inside Serj's head!"
    Eric Bogosian
  • “A passionate rock artist paying more than just lip service to politics.”
  • "Tankian is at his most impassioned and eloquent when discussing his activism and the complicated feelings about his Armenian roots that fuel it... Heavy metal fans will welcome this expansive look at one of the genre’s key figures."
    Publishers Weekly

On Sale
May 14, 2024
Page Count
352 pages
Hachette Books

Serj Tankian

About the Author

Serj Tankian is best known as the lead singer of the Grammy award winning rock band, System Of A Down, but he is also a solo artist, composer, activist, painter, poet, and filmmaker. Since launching onto the rock scene in 1993, he’s performed for millions of fans and sold more than 42 million albums worldwide. He’s also a proud Armenian-American and a dedicated activist; along with Tom Morello, Tankian co-founded the non-profit organization Axis of Justice, which strived to bring together musicians, music fans, and grassroots political organizations to fight for social justice. He has composed scores for many films and television series, had his paintings exhibited in galleries in the U.S. and New Zealand, and released two books of his own poetry. He has also been an executive producer on multiple documentaries, including I Am Not Alone, which tells the story of Armenia’s 2018 revolution and which won awards at the Toronto International Film Festival, DOC NYC, The American Film Institute Festival, and the Palm Springs International Film Festival, among others. Tankian lives with his wife and his son, splitting their time between Los Angeles and New Zealand.

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