by Luke Winkie
System of a Down singer Serj Tankian is not a man who's known for his levity, but if you want to catch a softer side of the Armenian hammer, he jumped on an instrumental from the Lebanese-born violinist Ara Malikian to sing a song about a particularly mean Cujo-esque pooch called "The Rough Dog."
The song unfurls in exactly the way you'd expect. A few violin scratches from Malikian to establish the vibe, with Tankian switching between his trademark operatic and hip-hop tones. (If you ever wanted to hear Serj malign poorly disciplined dogs that won't stop biting your legs, now is your chance.) The whole thing has a bizarre, folky looseness to it that we enjoy.
Below, in Episode 1 of our exclusive three-part "The Art of Work" series with Serj Tankian, the iconic vocalist/multi-instrumentalist invites us into his home studio for a revealing discussion about the evolution of his creativity — and why "sticking to one formula" is the kiss of death for an artist.