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John Dolmayan

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John Dolmayan
Dolmayan in 2018
Dolmayan in 2018
Background information
Born (1972-07-15) July 15, 1972 (age 51)
Beirut, Lebanon
OriginGlendale, California, U.S.
Years active1997–present

John Dolmayan (Armenian: Ջոն Դոլմայան) (born July 15, 1972[1]) is a Lebanese-born Armenian-American musician, best known as the drummer of System of a Down. He is also the drummer for the band Indicator and former drummer for Scars on Broadway. Dolmayan ranked number 33 on Loudwire's list of Top 200 Hard Rock + Metal Drummers of All Time.[2]

Early life[edit]

John Dolmayan was born in Beirut, Lebanon, to Armenian parents.[3] During the Lebanese Civil War, his family moved to California.[4]

Dolmayan first became interested in drums at the age of two.[5] His father was a saxophone player and when his mother would take him to watch his father play, he would mimic his father's drummer.[6] He learned to play the drums by putting on records and practicing for hours a day, and continued said practice for years.[5] Dolmayan describes his musical style as one influenced by whatever he could get his hands on, including the jazz albums belonging to his father and the rock albums he shared with his friends.[5]

Dolmayan is a fan of the Who and cites Who drummer Keith Moon as his biggest influence. Other drummers that he cites as major influences include Led Zeppelin's John Bonham, Stewart Copeland from the Police, and Rush's Neil Peart.[5]

System of a Down[edit]

Dolmayan drumming with System of a Down in 2011

Dolmayan joined System of a Down in 1997 after their original drummer, Ontronik "Andy" Khachaturian, left the band due to a hand injury.[7]

Dolmayan recorded five albums with System of a Down: System of a Down (1998), Toxicity (2001), Steal This Album! (2002), Mezmerize (2005) and Hypnotize (2005).[8]

Dolmayan won DRUM! Magazine's 2006 Drummer of the year and was the feature story in their March edition.[9] The band went on hiatus in 2006, but reunited in 2010 to occasionally tour.

Scars on Broadway[edit]

After System of a Down went on hiatus in 2006, Dolmayan teamed up with Daron Malakian (System of a Down's guitarist/vocalist) to form a new band called Scars on Broadway, which recorded their eponymous debut album in 2007 and 2008.[10] The album was released in the summer of 2008 and Dolmayan, Malakian, guitarist Franky Perez, bassist Dominic Cifarelli, and keyboardist Danny Shamoun performed concerts and prepared to embark on a tour in support of the album before Malakian suddenly cancelled the tour in October 2008.[11]

In August 2009, Dolmayan, Perez, Shamoun, and Cifarelli as Scars on Broadway traveled to Iraq for a USO tour across the U.S. army bases. Their setlist consisted of covers as well as a few Scars on Broadway songs.[12][13]

Scars on Broadway reunited with Malakian on May 2, 2010,[14] and released a new single later that year.[15] However, the project went dormant and Dolmayan was no longer involved when Malakian reformed the group in 2018.[16]

Other projects[edit]

Dolmayan in 2009

Dolmayan recorded drums for Killing Joke's 2003 self-titled album,[17] (although the band ended up going with Dave Grohl's tracks[18]) as well as Scum of the Earth's debut album, Blah...Blah...Blah...Love Songs for the New Millennium. He also played drums on the Axis of Justice concert tour with various artists and on the Serj Tankian solo debut, Elect the Dead.[19]

In June 2009, Dolmayan formed a new rock band called Indicator with three friends from Southern California, members of the recently disbanded punk rock band If All Else Fails: Tom Capossela, Ryan Huber, and Ryan Murphy.[20] The band played their first show at The Bitter End in San Diego on July 22, 2009, with Dolmayan's fellow Scars on Broadway member Franky Perez joining the band for a few songs. Their second and final show took place at a strip club in Las Vegas.[21] The band wrote 10-12 songs from 2009 to 2010; live and acoustic demos exist of them all.[22] The four remain in contact although it is uncertain whether the songs will ever be properly recorded.

Dolmayan performed with System of a Down bandmates Daron Malakian and bassist Shavo Odadjian and Scars on Broadway guitarist Franky Perez for Odadjian's Halloween show.[23] Dolmayan, Malakian, and Odadjian performed together again in November 2009 during a charity show for Deftones bassist Chi Cheng.[24]

Dolmayan has devoted much of his life to the comic book retail industry, including launching Torpedo Comics out of Nevada.[25] Torpedo Comics has two brick and mortar stores in addition to a significant online presence.[26]

In 2009, John auditioned for the Smashing Pumpkins, in the absence of Jimmy Chamberlin.[27]

In 2014, Dolmayan started a Kickstarter to fund cover project, These Grey Men, releasing their first single, a cover of Radiohead's "Street Spirit (Fade Out)", in January 2020.[28] Avenged Sevenfold singer M. Shadows contributed vocals to the track; Tom Morello contributed the guitar solo at the song's close.[29] The second single features System of a Down bandmate Serj Tankian in a cover of David Bowie's "Starman".[30]

Personal life[edit]

John Dolmayan is married to Diana Dolmayan (née Madatyan), who is the sister of Tankian's wife Angela, making them brothers-in-law.[31][32]

On his social media accounts, Dolmayan is very politically active like his bandmates; unlike most members of System of a Down, particularly Tankian, Dolmayan supported Donald Trump's presidency.[33] Tankian has stated that it is "frustrating" to be politically opposite with his bandmate and brother-in-law.[34] In October 2023, Dolmayan claimed he had lost friends as well as “hundreds of thousands of fans” on Instagram due to his controversial opinions about Trump, his beliefs that Black Lives Matter “never had legitimacy” and was a “propaganda tool” for the Democratic Party, and his arguments that the COVID-19 pandemic “has always been about money”.[35]

A long time comic book fan, Dolmayan owns a comic book shop, Torpedo Comics, in Las Vegas.[36]



Dolmayan's drumset

Dolmayan uses Tama drums and hardware, Paiste cymbals, Evans Drumheads, LP percussion and his signature Vater drumsticks.

  • DrumsTama Starclassic Bubinga[37]
    • 10"×8" Rack Tom
    • 12"×9" Rack Tom
    • 13"x10" Rack Tom
    • 16"×14" Floor Tom
    • 18"×16" Floor Tom
    • 22"×18" Bass Drum
    • 14"×6" John Dolmayan Signature Snare
  • CymbalsPaiste[38]
    • Traditionals 22" Medium Light Swish
    • RUDE 14" Hi-Hat
    • 2002 6" Bell Chime
    • Signature 18" Fast Crash
    • Signature 10" Splash
    • Signature 8" Splash
    • RUDE 14" Hi-Hat
    • Signature 19" Full Crash
    • RUDE 24" Mega Power Ride
    • 2002 24" Big Ride
    • 2002 19" Wild China
  • SticksVic Firth[39]
    • John Dolmayan Signature 16" length, .580" diameter

In the early 2000s, Dolmayan, an avid comic book collector and vendor since childhood, commissioned a group of notable comics artists to create artwork for the drum kit he used. He had Arthur Adams illustrate a scene of giant women fighting robots and Godzilla; Simon Bisley illustrated the Hulk and Thing; Kevin Eastman provided illustration of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles; and Tim Vigil depicted a sexually explicit scene of demons engaged in a sex act.[40]



  1. ^ Dolmayan, John (April 27, 2022), Instagram live stream on YouTube (published April 28, 2022), retrieved July 15, 2022, Q&A: (What's your moon sign?) Hmm, well I'm uh, I'm born July 15th, 1972, so uh I think, I'm a cancer—I don't know what the moon sign is... [Timestamp, 46:51]
  2. ^ "Top 200 Hard Rock + Metal Drummers of All Time". Loudwire. Archived from the original on November 27, 2016. Retrieved December 24, 2016.
  3. ^ "allmusic (((John Dolmayan> Feedback)))". allmusic. Retrieved July 26, 2010.
  4. ^ Flemming, Jack (June 19, 2018). "System of a Down drummer John Dolmayan snares a home in Glendale". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on October 9, 2018. Retrieved June 8, 2019.
  5. ^ a b c d "Interview with John Dolmayan". Tama. September 15, 2006. Archived from the original on July 20, 2011. Retrieved July 26, 2010.
  6. ^ "John Dolmayan: 'I Never Wanted Us to Take a Break in the First Place'". www.ultimate-guitar.com.
  7. ^ "OnTroniK: System of a Down Information". Archived from the original on February 20, 2010. Retrieved July 18, 2010.
  8. ^ "John Dolmayan – Credits". AllMusic.
  9. ^ "Drum! March 2006 John Dolmayan". Drum!. 117.[dead link]
  10. ^ "SYSTEM OF A DOWN Members Recording 18 Songs For SCARS ON BROADWAY Debut". Blabbermouth.net. September 29, 2007. Archived from the original on June 22, 2018. Retrieved April 24, 2018.
  11. ^ "Scars On Broadway cancel US tour – NME". Nme.com. October 10, 2008. Archived from the original on June 21, 2018. Retrieved April 24, 2018.
  12. ^ "SCARS ON BROADWAY ON HIATUS OR BROKEN UP". Artisannews.com. January 18, 2010. Archived from the original on April 25, 2018. Retrieved April 24, 2018.
  13. ^ "SCARS ON BROADWAY Members Touring Army Bases In Iraq". Blabbermouth.net. August 24, 2009. Archived from the original on June 22, 2018. Retrieved April 24, 2018.
  14. ^ "SCARS ON BROADWAY Announces Comeback Show". Blabbermouth.net. April 13, 2010. Archived from the original on October 13, 2013. Retrieved April 24, 2018.
  15. ^ "SCARS ON BROADWAY: New Song Available For Free Download". Blabbermouth.net. July 29, 2010. Archived from the original on October 18, 2018. Retrieved April 24, 2018.
  16. ^ "Daron Malakian Says SCARS ON BROADWAY's New Album Could Have Been New SYSTEM OF A DOWN Music". Metalinjection.net. April 24, 2018. Archived from the original on August 17, 2018. Retrieved April 24, 2018.
  17. ^ "Nirvana Pay Back Killing Joke". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on June 8, 2017. Retrieved June 8, 2017.
  18. ^ TENSION MAKES THE JOKE WORK Archived September 9, 2007, at the Wayback Machine Murray Engleheart, Drum Media, November 4, 2003
  19. ^ "John Dolmayan of System Of A Down". June 20, 2008. Archived from the original on January 29, 2019. Retrieved June 8, 2019.
  20. ^ "Indicator | Gratis muziek, tourneedata, foto's, video's". Myspace.com. Archived from the original on February 4, 2014. Retrieved October 11, 2011.
  21. ^ Indicator – Precedence and Stem Cells (John Dolmayan's new project), archived from the original on December 11, 2021, retrieved January 25, 2020
  22. ^ Indicator – Symbolic Eyes (Acoustic Demo), archived from the original on December 11, 2021, retrieved January 25, 2020
  23. ^ Harris, Chris (November 3, 2009). "System of a Down Reunite for Quick Halloween Gig … Sort Of". Noisecreep. Archived from the original on April 13, 2019. Retrieved June 8, 2019.
  24. ^ "DEFTONES Benefit Shows for 'CHI LING CHENG SPECIAL NEEDS TRUST' a Tremendous Success". www.businesswire.com. December 21, 2009.
  25. ^ "How System of a Down's Drummer Went From Rock God to Comic-Book Hero – Vegas Seven". Vegas Seven. December 7, 2016. Archived from the original on February 21, 2018. Retrieved February 21, 2018.
  26. ^ "Torpedo Comics". Torpedo Comics. Retrieved January 25, 2020.
  27. ^ Carter (April 21, 2009). "John Dolmayan Auditions For Smashing Pumpkins". Archived from the original on April 23, 2016. Retrieved December 24, 2016.
  28. ^ "THESE GREY MEN". THESE GREY MEN. Retrieved January 25, 2020.
  29. ^ John Dolmayan – These Grey Men: "Street Spirit" (Official Video), archived from the original on December 11, 2021, retrieved January 25, 2020
  30. ^ starman
  31. ^ "SERJ TANKIAN Says SYSTEM OF A DOWN Members Don't See 'Eye To Eye' On How To Proceed With New Album" December 20, 2017.Blabbermouth. https://www.blabbermouth.net/news/serj-tankian-says-system-of-a-down-members-dont-see-eye-to-eye-on-how-to-proceed-with-new-album/
  32. ^ Gary Graff. "John Dolmayan's Frustration With System of a Down Led to His New Solo Album" February 27, 2020.Billboard.https://www.billboard.com/articles/columns/rock/9324365/system-of-a-down-john-dolmayan-these-grey-men-interview-premiere
  33. ^ "System Of A Down's John Dolmayan: "Donald Trump is the greatest friend to minorities"". NME. June 4, 2020.
  34. ^ Trapp, Philip (October 20, 2020). "Serj Tankian: It's 'Frustrating' Having a Bandmate Who's My Political Opposite". LoudWire. Retrieved October 21, 2020.
  35. ^ Wilkes, Emma. "System Of A Down's John Dolmayan claims he lost "hundreds of thousands of fans" who "couldn't handle" his opinions". NME. Retrieved November 28, 2023.
  36. ^ "John Dolmayan opens comic book shop in Las Vegas". KTNV. May 22, 2017. Retrieved September 15, 2020.
  37. ^ "John Dolmayan's drum setup on the Tama USA website" (in Japanese). Tamadrum.co.jp. Archived from the original on September 29, 2011. Retrieved October 11, 2011.
  38. ^ "John Dolmayan's cymbal setup on the Paiste website". Paiste.com. February 8, 2007. Archived from the original on September 27, 2011. Retrieved October 11, 2011.
  39. ^ "Artists – Vic Firth". Archived from the original on December 25, 2016. Retrieved December 24, 2016.
  40. ^ Collis, Clark (August 8, 2006). "System of a Down's drummer on his art-covered kit". Entertainment Weekly. Archived from the original on November 20, 2015. Retrieved May 12, 2023.

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