MUSIC

System of a Down's Serj Tankian Talks Obama, Romney and Why He'll Never Run For Office

08/29/2012 03:42 EDT | Updated 09/01/2012 01:42 EDT
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AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - JANUARY 16: Serj Tankian performs during the 2009 Big Day Out at Mt Smart Stadium on January 16, 2009 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Hannah Johnston/Getty Images)

On Sept 4, 2001, System of a Down, a Grammy Award-winning Armenian-American band from Southern California, dropped its breakthrough record, Toxicity. It was number one a week later when, well, you know.

System of a Down has always infused its heavy music with heady political messages, but in the hyper-patriotic climate of post-9/11 America, the band's outspoken criticism of the War on Terror and the Bush regime didn't sit well with many. More than a decade later, Osama Bin Laden is dead, America's first African-American president is up for re-election, and after declaring an indefinite hiatus in 2006, the band has reformed for a reunion tour and discovered their socio-political protest music remains as relevant as ever.

System frontman Serj Tankian tells Huffington Post that despite huge expectations, President Obama couldn't deliver on the sweeping reform he promised on the campaign trail.

"I think to a certain degree he's tried to make changes, but, he's had a lot of resistance from the right wing, and the Republican Party. There's been a lot of obstructionism in congress. It's made life difficult for progress politically and socially in the U.S.," he says.

Indeed, the key issues in the coming election -- the economy, same-sex marriage, abortion, and healthcare reform -- uncover an American people more divided then when Bush was in office. Unfortunately, there is no sign of a candidate to unite the people. When it's time to cast the ballot, Tankian believes, it's better the devil you know.

"Before we see real change, I think we need a far more leftist candidate that is willing to make those strong decisions," he says. "But if Obama wins a second term, that's certainly better than having Romney in office."

A singer, poet, songwriter, and activist, Serj Tankian is an interesting guy. While many hard rockers are content to swill beer and flip devil horns, he spends his down time meeting with the heads of state, and promoting social justice via the Axis of Justice, the non-profit organization he co-founded with Rage Against the Machine's Tom Morello.

Despite his interest in politics, however, Tankian has no design on a political career.

"I hate injustice, and I can't help but speak against it," he says. "But I don't want to get involved in politics. I have a more direct avenue to expression as an artist than I ever would as a politician."