System of a Down frontman Serj Tankian says his band's two comeback singles are closing in on $1 million in proceeds to benefit the Armenia Fund's humanitarian relief efforts in the Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan, where a 26-year ceasefire ended in conflict early this fall between the region's ethnically Armenian population and Turkey-backed Azerbaijan forces.
The two new songs, "Genocidal Humanoidz" and "Protect the Land," ended a 15-year drought of new music from System of a Down. Renewed tension between Armenia and its neighbors prompted the band to set aside their longstanding disagreements and do something to help.
Tankian told an Fresno, California, NBC affiliate that the new music has nothing to do with the band advancing its career. All proceeds raised from the new songs are being donated to the Armenia Fund.
"We decided to do this to gain attention so we can do interviews about the injustice and the humanitarian catastrophe being committed by Azerbaijan and Turkey against the Armenians of Artsakh, and to also raise much-needed humanitarian funds," he said. "So it's not about our musical career, it's not about the band, it's not about us, it's something completely outside of it."
The campaign has worked so far, he added.
"I don't have the current figures today, but I want to say $700,000 - $800,000 within a week, maybe 10 days," Tankian said of the fundraising. "And we're gonna do a few fundraising events and auctions as well in the coming weeks to a month to try to get a lot more raised."
When asked about System of a Down's history of political messaging its music, Tankian explained that the band's success is still something of a revelation to the four members; it was never something they expected.
"I'll tell you this — we've never tried to appeal to a mainstream audience. If we were, we wouldn't be writing the type of music we did from day one, very left of center, nutty, and kind of comical, and deadly serious at the same time."
He continued: "Music has many amazing purposes; from making us feel good and entertain us and whatnot. But part of the music that I really pay attention to are ones that move me beyond and really challenge my senses for finding justice and doing things with the music outside of just the entertainment aspect of it.
"And those are the artists that I really appreciate over the years, so that's been a huge part of what System of a Down does, needless to say, and I think our fans appreciate that."
In addition to streaming the new singles, you can purchase them via the band's Bandcamp.
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