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Daron Vartan Malakian (born July 18, 1975 in Hollywood, California, USA) is the guitarist in the Armenian-American band System of a Down, comprising vocalist Serj Tankian, bassist Shavo Odadjian, and drummer John Dolmayan. Malakian has written most of the band's music, and, more recently, has taken on a large share of the vocal and lyrical work for the band as well. Like the rest of the Hollywood-based band, he is of Armenian ancestry.Read More...
Daron was born on July 18, 1975 in Hollywood, California, USA. Malakian is an only child. At a very early age, Daron got into heavy metal music; his distant cousin played him a KISS record when he was four years old and he was hooked. Daron started listening to Van Halen, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Motörhead and Ozzy Osbourne among others. He always wanted to play the drums, but his parents got him a guitar instead because "You can't turn the drums off." By the time he was a teenager, he got into heavier metal bands such as Slayer, Venom, Metallica, Pantera, Sepultura and Cannibal Corpse. At around 17 he started getting into The Beatles and cites John Lennon as one of his biggest influences on him as a songwriter. Daron went to Rose & Alex Pilibos' Armenian school in the Los Feliz side of Hollywood, which bandmates Serj Tankian and Shavo Odadjian also attended. Daron is still a big Slayer fan, as is band member Shavo Odadjian (bass) who sometimes wears Slayer t-shirts to shows. Also in his childhood he became a fan of the LA Kings Hockey Team.
Daron met Serj Tankian in 1993, while they both shared the same rehearsal studio in different bands. Serj was playing keyboard for a band, and Daron was playing lead guitar for another band. They formed a jam band called Soil. Shavo Odadjian then became their bassist. They later changed their name to "System of a Down", based on a poem that Daron wrote. The poem's title was "Victims of a Down" But Serj Tankian thought System was a stronger word. They then recruited Andy Khachaturian for the drums, who was later replaced by their current drummer, John Dolmayan.
Malakian now lives in Glendale, California in a home by himself; he also has families in Iraq and Iran. He sometimes visits his family in Iran but only goes there because his family is there and because of the excellent food. He also likes to collect candles, Persian rugs, Middle Eastern smoking devices, instruments, and skulls. Daron has been voted fourth best guitarist of the year by Metal Edge Magazine. Daron has stated in an interview that he hates the Nu Metal label more than anything, saying "A lot of bands followed KoRn. We're not one of those bands but I have respect for KoRn for being original. I just think it’s a shame that so many people felt they had to go and mimic that. Everyone tells us we have our own sound. I think that we have enough trust in our fans from touring for enough years to know that they're expecting something different from us, which is cool because it leaves the door open for us to go anywhere we want."
Malakian co-produced System of a Down's albums with Rick Rubin, as well as The Ambulance and Bad Acid Trip (a band on fellow member Serj Tankian's Serjical Strike Records). He recently started his own label, EatUrMusic, on which Amen is the first signed band. Malakian is also involved in a project called Scars on Broadway, with Amen-singer Casey Chaos and Zach Hill from Hella and Team Sleep. In 2003 Daron Malakian played with a variety of celebrities in the Celebrity Baseball Game in Hollywood. He wrote a song about the experience, "Old School Hollywood", which appears on Disc 1 of System of a Down's double album, Mezmerize/Hypnotize.
Malakian is currently in the early stages of forming a new group "Scars on Broadway." He has stated that he's still getting the band together but some music should be surfacing by Summer 2007. In a live performance of Hypnotize at KROQ Acoustic Christmas, Daron said "not all the money in Israel can buy this band".
In December of 2005, Daron said in an interview that he "could release ten solo records tomorrow.'". He also said, "'I have tons of material laying around. After these albums," (Mezmerize and Hypnotize) "I'm gonna go off and do something on my own, just like Serj. And no, System of a Down are not breaking up. We're just gonna do like KISS and put out our own solo records or something like that." On what direction his album will take, Malakian states: "It will probably be something electronic mixed in with traditional Armenian and thrash/death/black and doom metal influences. When, or even if, the music comes out it will still be structured, just like System of a Down's music is." This solo album, possibly named Scars on Broadway, should be launched just after Hypnotize's tour. This electronic idea was demonstrated in all 2005 concerts in which Malakian, instead of merely singing the chorus to the song Sugar or War?, as well as "Old School Hollywood" from Mezmerize, distorted his voice electronically with a Vocoder.
Daron is well-known for playing his custom Ibanez Iceman, with custom graphics done by his father, Vartan Malakian. His father also did custom graphics on the 1978 Iceman, as well as making the horned bridge replacing the stopbar. He uses Gibson Burstbuckers and Duncan SH-6 Distortion pickups on all of his Icemans. The guitar was popular in the 1970s and 1980s, and he was fronting its comeback. All of the Icemans that he plays on stage have a one-of-a-kind finish and can not be found in retail, although there was a limited edition Iceman with graphics by 'Vartan Malakian' sold on eBay. He plays through 2 Marshall Bluesbreaker amps linked together to a Marshall double stack, uses Jim Dunlop Custom-made .88mm Triangle plectrums and Ernie Ball "Skinny Top Heavy Bottom" guitar strings. Daron now uses a Gibson SG onstage in most of System of a Down's recent live shows. He can be seen with his Gibson SG\Les Paul 61' Reissue in the music videos for System of a Down's "B.Y.O.B," with tailpiece in Question!, and he is seen playing his cream-colored SG in the video for "Hypnotize." When they started out, he played a black hardtail Stratocaster (which can be seen in the video War?) as well as a Carvin MTS Tube head. From System of a Down's formation, up until their third album, Steal This Album!, Daron used Drop C (from sixth string to first, C, G, C, F, A, D) tuning on his guitars. On the band's double album "Mezmerize/Hypnotize", Daron changed to Drop Db (from sixth string to first, Db, Ab, Db, Gb, Bb, Eb) tuning. (except for the tracks "Dreaming" and "Question!", which are played by Daron in Drop C, while the acoustic guitar in "Question!" was played in Standard Tuning as well.) He gave the reason for the change in tuning as to give the new songs "more kick". While in the studio Daron relies on a baritone guitar, A Les Paul Standard, a Jackson Randy Rhoads flying V, and a slew of other guitars. His amps have mostly been a Marshall super lead but has been seen with Mesa/Boogie's before.He also owns a Fulltone CLYDE Wah pedal(Seen in various live videos) and a Planet Waves pedal tuner (seen in a behind the scenes video...)