Serj Tankian (born August 21, 1967 in Beirut, Lebanon) is an Armenian-American musician who now lives in Los Angeles. He is a vocalist of System of a Down, a name which was inspired by a poem written by fellow band member Daron Malakian titled "Victims of A Down". Serj also plays keyboard and occasionally, the guitar. He can be heard in the song "Question!", playing acoustic. Besides his work with System of a Down, Tankian has also started his own record label, Serjical Strike, in an effort to release music otherwise ignored by the mainstream. The first act on his label is a side-project dubbed "Serart" featuring Serj himself and famed world-musician Arto Tun├žboyac─▒yan. Tankian's first poetry book, "Cool Gardens", was published by MTV Books and features artwork by fellow Angeleno, Sako Shahinian. Tankian maintains a variety of interests, including maintaining an herb garden (as a practicing vegatarian), and assisting in the D.A.R.E. program.
Serj attended the same Armenian school as fellow band members Daron Malakian and Shavo Odadjian, but they weren't acquainted at the time due to age difference.
Tankian is also a prominent activist; championing against violence and injustice. On September 13, 2001, shortly after the attacks of September 11, 2001, Serj penned an essay, which he posted on the official System of a Down website, titled "Understanding Oil". Promptly removed by Sony, the essay was seen by many, still shaken by the attack, as justification for the terrorists' actions, though this wasn't what Tankian was trying to put across.
More recently, Tankian partnered with Tom Morello of Audioslave (former guitarist of Rage Against The Machine) to create Axis of Justice, an activist organization aimed at motivating youth interest in politics. On January 3, 2003, Serj and Tom led a protest march in Santa Monica, California handing out bagged lunches to the homeless in violation of a city ordinance that requires charitable organizations, while handing out food in public, to follow restaurant code. He is also currently working on efforts to make Turkey recognize the Armenian Genocide of 1915.
Tom Morello and Serj join together to record the Axis of Justice radio show, in which they discuss issues like racism in America, censorship, the Iraq war, and also engage in interviews with celebrities like Michael Moore and Janeane Garofalo.
More recently Serj appeared on, and produced the 2005 release by Buckethead & Friends, "Enter the Chicken."
October 1, 2002 Serj released a poetry book "Cool Gardens", a collection of seven to eight years of the singer's reflections on life. Serj's words, like his voice, have a distinct aesthetic sensibility connected to an unyielding, visceral roar of passion. His capacity 'to mock a killing bird' while we wonder at the grace, beauty, and colorful range of his wingspan will be the trademark of both of his singing and writing careers. Serj is an amazing artist, full of passion, with a beautiful heart that pumps the essence of his vision and talent. - Saul Williams, rollingstone.com