The American rock band System of a Down kicks off an international tour on Monday in which it will perform its first concert in Armenia to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the genocide there, according to Rolling Stone magazine.
The band, whose four members are of Armenian descent, will perform on April 23 at Republic Square in Armenia’s capital city of Yerevan as part of its Wake Up Souls tour, the magazine said.
“This is something that transcends the music,” said drummer John Dolmayan during an April 1 conference call with reporters. “This is more important than a next System of a Down album. This is something that is far-reaching and even bigger than the Armenian genocide itself … We want to help prevent what happened to the Armenians happening to other people.”
The band said it hoped to raise awareness of the 1915 genocide in which Ottoman Empire executed an estimated 1.5 million Armenians, a minority population living in the borders of what now constitutes Turkey.
April 24 is the day Armenians mark as the beginning of the genocide, in which the Ottoman Empire arrested hundreds of Armenian intellectuals and later executed them, according to the New York Times.
Turkey has rejected historians’ claims about the genocide, and System of Down singer Serj Tankian told Rolling Stone that “the denial is a spit in the face” of Armenians.
“It stays with you,” Dolmayan told Rolling Stone. “”It’s still with me today, because of the stories that we did hear [from our families].”