John Dolmayan

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John Dolmayan (born July 15, 1971) is the drummer for System of a Down.

John Dolmayan was born in Lebanon, to Armenian parents. One night when he was five, he got scared and went to his parent's room and asked if he could sleep there. His parents agreed, and soon after a bullet came through the window of his room and hit his bed, where he would have been sleeping. His father decided they had to move. They moved to Canada, then to Los Angeles four years later. He has a condominium in Las Vegas. He also bought his parents a house in Los Angeles. His father is a sax player. He has a small dog named Ginger.

While in Canada, Dolmayan got his first drum kit. He was seven years old.

"It was destroyed on a Sunday morning," he remembers. "My dad had been up until five and I decided I was going to play at six, so it was bye-bye to that drum set. I didn't get another one until I was 15."

In the intervening years, Dolmayan's desire for the drums never wavered. Nor was he able to figure out why he was so drawn to the instrument.

"It was always drums. I can't tell you -- I was playing at them at such a young age, it's like asking 'Why do you breathe?' You don't know, you just do. Why do you drink water? 'Cause you have to. Why do I play drums? It's in my nature. I have to play them. I don't know if I play them or they play me."

External Links

Above Copyleft (CL) 2005,

ANALYSIS: Subject Dolmayan, despite being a "rock & roller," agrees to meet in the most un-rock A.M. hours, signaling motivation and order, again, something most un-rock. Subject maintains a meticulous room -- collections of comics, compact discs and novels are painstakingly organized for optimum efficiency. Subject's walls are covered in whimsical works of art, an ironic indicator of vicarious fancy for a man clearly rooted in reality. Later it surfaces that his bunk on System of a Down's tour bus is similarly arranged with soothing tokens and diversions. "I put up pictures of things I enjoy, things that comfort me," he says. "If you don't feel at home, you will get very uncomfortable."

Not twenty minutes into the examination, as dialogue turns literary, Dolmayan gifts the examiner a copy of James Clavell's "Shogun," tellingly indicating the cultural clash love epic as an inspirational favorite. Subject himself was born into war-torn Lebanon to a sax-blowing father who chose family over music, discouraging young John from pursuing the rhythmic arts as a vocation lest he suffer invariable hardships, "He knows what a musician's life is like," Dolmayan says of his paternal unit. "He had no clue I would be in a signed band one day, he figured I'd be struggling my whole life."

Clearly Dolmayan's jazz-deluged upbringing could and should be cited when attempting to explain his unorthodox drumming flare. Subject's eclectically populated personal hero Pantheon furthermore elucidates the point: Keith Moon, Maynard Ferguson, Jaco Pastorius, The Dickies, Billy Idol and Rush. Idolatry aside, subject rightfully asserts System of a Down the result of disparate roots blending mysteriously. "There's no way we can be imitated," he maintains. "We have so many influences -- we barely know what they are. How could someone copy us?"

Of the four fundamental character orders subject Dolmayan is principally a Rational with a secondary association as Artisan. His primary alignment with the likes of Douglas MacAuthur, Thomas Edison and Albert Einstein would imply a methodical mentality with emphasis on goal-sighting and eventual conquest and/or the ability to judiciously problem solve. "You have to have discipline in drumming,? he says. ?Timing is very important, but I don't want to be a robot. I like the fact that every now and then I'll go off time a little bit, every now and then my rolls aren't perfect."

Subject is questioned from the six stratas as defined by Schwartz & Bristol ("Altruist," "Magician," "Innocent," "Orphan," "Wanderer" and "Warrior"). Beneath the Innocent banner, a realm delving into childhood issues, Dolmayan is asked when he first recognized drumming as his calling. "Probably when I was one or two." he says. His early understanding of personal destiny strongly suggests fate's intervention in placing him behind the traps in System of a Down.

Dolmayan would seem the least politically motivated member of the quartet. While clearly aware of and in tune with global maladies, his wishes are immediate. As with many Rationals, he's acutely aware of his own power to affect change and so is logical and relative when asked which problem in the world he most complains about. "I've been looking for a '69 Dodge Charger for a while now," he says. "I can't find one. We've got a pretty good life here man. There's people out there who can't see, can't hear, don't have food. What I have are inconveniences."

CONCLUSION: Subject John Dolmayan cherishes order but understands and treats with reverence System of a Down's musical chaos. While his Rational instincts anchor a curious band given to amble, his Artisan element understands the importance of stretching out and travel beyond the known. In laymen's terms, the guy whoops ass on drums.