Scars on Broadway: A Scar is Born
GW Is the way you and John work together in Scars similar to the way you’ve worked in System?
MALAKIAN It’s the same, especially on the last System records, Mesmerize and Hypnotize. On those records I played bass, guitar, some of the keyboards, and I did a lot of the vocals. Aside from Serj [Tankian, System singer and keyboardist], everything you hear on those records is me and John. A lot of the vocals that you hear on System songs, whether they’re sung by me or not, were written by me. So you’ll hear those links. But at the same time, I didn’t want to repeat myself. This record is just where I was at the time I wrote it. I think I felt more free to go into the rock world with this project. Whenever I’m writing and I have Serj in mind, I can never picture him singing some of the more rock-oriented stuff.
GW Why, because his voice doesn’t lend itself to straight-up rock and roll?
MALAKIAN It’s more about the attitude behind rock. I think he’s more eclectic, more experimental and complex. But when it comes to singing “Whole Lotta Rosie,” it’s just not him, you know? [laughs] And I felt more free to be that, because that’s more me. Knowing that he wasn’t going to be singing these songs, it kind of put me in a direction that’s more suited to my voice, my mood and my character as a singer.
GW What’s the story behind the name of the band?
MALAKIAN In Glendale, where I live, there’s a street called Broadway. The bottoms of the light posts have swastikas on them. They were made that way [in the Twenties]; it’s not like skinheads carved them in, or anything like that. The symbols aren’t tilted, like Nazi swastikas are, but it’s obvious what they are. And I always thought it was a trip, like, “What’s up with that?” There was always something a little mysterious about it. So one day I was talking to my friend—we were on our way to a hockey game—and he said something about, “Yeah, those swastikas on Broadway.” And I said, “Wait a second…” I didn’t think I wanted to call the band Swastikas on Broadway [laughs], but Scars on Broadway came to me right after that, because of the way that the swastikas are like scars on the light posts. [A 1995 study by the city of Glendale determined that the lampposts were acquired from the Union Metal Company of Canton, Ohio, and that the swastika design—in use for centuries by numerous cultures as a sign of good luck—was based on a pattern commonly found on Greek garments and Navajo rugs.]
GW Do you have any sense of when the album’s going to come out?
MALAKIAN No. [laughs] But I’d hope the end of summer, at latest. I think before we put out the album we’re going to put a few songs out on the net, just to give the fans a taste of what’s going on. I would love for them to hear it tomorrow, but it’s just not ready. I’m excited for people to hear it. And I’m kinda nervous, too. But I believe in it; I believe in the songs. I believe that they keep up with anything else I’ve written in my life, and I feel really good about it.
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