John Dolmayan, the drummer of Grammy Award-winning, multiplatinum Los Angeles quartet SYSTEM OF A DOWN, has released "Starman", a high-voltage rendition of David Bowie's 1972 hit. The song, which features SYSTEM OF A DOWN vocalist Serj Tankian, marks the second single from Dolmayan's "These Grey Men" album.
The eight-track LP, due on Friday, February 28, is an eclectic collection of reimagined songs Dolmayan was inspired by during many drives between Los Angeles and Las Vegas. "These Grey Men" features additional special guest artists, including AVENGED SEVENFOLD singer M. Shadows and RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE guitarist Tom Morello, with a bulk of the album recorded at Dave Grohl's Studio 606.
"While I was driving, I'd put on satellite radio and listen to whatever came on," says Dolmayan. "Oftentimes, I'd hear something and ask myself how I would play or arrange it. I actually started to make a list of about 30 songs I might cover someday. I just got inspiration from desert driving and listening to music. SYSTEM wasn't making music at the time, but I needed an outlet for my artistic energy. So, I whittled down the list and reached out to some artists I wanted to work with."
Through the album are standouts including powerful renditions of notable song's such as the leadoff single, "Street Spirit", a lively cover from the RADIOHEAD catalog that catapults the song into a new dimension with M. Shadows on vocals and a blistering guitar solo from Morello. Jon Blistein of Rolling Stone noted: "Dolmayan's cover itself is a complete transformation of 'Street Spirit', making it a larger-than-life arena rocker that still retains the same pathos as the original. The track ends with the delirious buzz of Morello's guitar."
Other tracks that break into new sonic territory include a spirited arrangement of TALKING HEADS' "Road To Nowhere", on which Dolmayan's commanding drumming also links with Tankian.
Over a span of five years, Dolmayan carefully assembled what would become "These Grey Men", joined by James Hazley on guitar, Tom Coppossela on bass and Danny Shouman on keys for the bulk of the project. Choosing eight diverse classics from the popular music canon, Dolmayan recorded his parts at Studio 606 and personally arranged strings at Toys Of The Masses.
Produced by Dolmayan with Hazley, the title for "These Grey Men", was birthed from conversations with a close friend, a former U.S. Navy S.E.A.L.
"A buddy of mine is a former Navy S.E.A.L., and he was staying at my house when I was making the album," Dolmayan says. "He's a very introspective guy and a really good person. We'd have these long conversations. He told me S.E.A.L.s would always try to be nondescript. You would never notice them in a room. In other words, they were 'Grey Men.' He said, 'They're kind of invisible — similar to a drummer.' We thought it would be a great title, because many people don't necessarily notice the drummer unless there's a mistake."
"These Gray Men" track listing:
01. Hung Up (MADONNA)
02. Street Spirit (RADIOHEAD)
03. Beautiful Thieves (AFI)
04. Road To Nowhere (TALKING HEADS)
05. Rock Bottom (EMINEM)
06. Runaway (DEL SHANNON)
07. Starman (DAVID BOWIE)
08. What You Know (TWO DOOR CINEMA CLUB)