Watch Daron Malakian Play System of a Down and Scars on Broadway Riffs, Talk Guitars and Songwriting

System of a Down and Scars on Broadway guitarist/vocalist Daron Malakian recently sat down for a taping of Ernie Ball’s String Theory.

The episode sees Malakian discussing his love of music and his approach to songwriting and guitar. Malakian also plays pieces of System of a Down songs “Aerials,” “Toxicity,” “Lost in Hollywood,” “Suite-Pee” and “Chop Suey!” as well as Scars on Broadway’s “Guns are Loaded,” “Universe” and “Angry Guru.”

Throughout the 19-minute video Malakian discusses his relationship with the guitar. Looking back on how he first started playing, he recalls that he initially planned on being a drummer. “We went to the music store on my 12th birthday to go get me my drum set,” he says. “And my parents kind of had a discussion amongst themselves and said, ‘You know, you can’t turn off the drums.’ So they decided to get me a little amplifier, it was an amp by a company called Gorilla. And they bought me a guitar, it was an Arbor guitar. And so that’s how I became a guitar player. Because my parents couldn’t turn off the drums.”

Evaluating his own playing, he says, “I never considered myself to be a technical guitar player. When I play the guitar I’m kinda hearing the whole song vocals everything that’s going on in my head. So it’s the tool that I use to structure songs, to write songs. It’s also a way for me to just kind of get away from my world and go in my little room.”

As for his practice regimen, Malakian reveals he doesn’t have one. “I’ve never practiced guitar a day in my life, actually,” he says. “I never felt like I was practicing. I was just playing. And I only played when I felt the itch to play, and it was calling me. And it’s still that way now.”

Watch the full interview above, and also check out recent String Theory episodes with Dave Navarro and Mick Mars.

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Richard Bienstock

Rich is the co-author of the best-selling Nöthin' But a Good Time: The Uncensored History of the '80s Hard Rock Explosion. He is also a recording and performing musician, and a former editor of Guitar World magazine and executive editor of Guitar Aficionado magazine. He has authored several additional books, among them Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck, the companion to the documentary of the same name.