Serj Tankian Recalls the Most Impactful Iron Maiden Concert He Ever Attended

While helping form the hit band System of a Down, Serj Tankian gained fame thanks to songs like “B.Y.O.B.”, which gained them a Grammy Award for Best Hard Rock Performance. Throughout their time on stage, the band released five studio albums with songs like “Aeirals” reaching the No. 1 spot on Billboard’s Alternative Songs chart. Although the band hasn’t released new music in several years, Tankian recently discussed his favorite music and some of the most impactful live shows he ever attended. 

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Speaking with Monsters, Madness and Magic, Tankian listed some of his favorite live shows. Thinking about the question, the singer took a trip back to 1984 when he saw Iron Maiden with his then-girlfriend. He said, “The first one that I ever saw, my first rock show I ever saw was Iron Maiden in 1984, I’d like to say — 1984, maybe. My girlfriend at the time was a huge Maiden fan and I, at the time, didn’t even listen to much rock music.”

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Besides recalling how innocent he was at the time, Tankian added, “I hadn’t even smoked pot. It was the first time I started smelling pot outside. I was a 4.0 good kid in school. So that was impactful for me because of the timing more than anything. And you’ll hear those kind of horses galloping within System’s music that’s influenced by Maiden as well; everyone in rock has been influenced by Maiden.” 

While sharing some of his thoughts on Iron Maiden at the time he attended the concert, Tankian explained, “I thought it was one of the craziest things I’d ever seen. [Laughs] I’m, like, ‘This is madness! What is this? Everyone, hide!’ At the time, I wasn’t actually a metal fan at all. I thought, ‘Wow, this is really noisy music, I don’t get it.’ To be completely honest, I wasn’t in love with it.”

Thanks to his girlfriend at the time, Tankian used the wild and craziness of Iron Maiden to influence his own ventures into music. And that love continues today as he released several solo albums, with his latest, Foundations, hitting shelves in 2024.  

(Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

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