Serj Tankian has stated in a new interview that he has "zero respect" for Imagine Dragons, but his opinion on the band is not based around their music.

What has miffed the musician about the pop-rock outfit is that the band has agreed to perform in Baku, Azerbaijan despite Tankian and others reaching out to the group about the reasons why passing on the gig should be considered.

Tankian Previously Reached Out to Imagine Dragons

Back in August 2023, Serj Tankian let his feelings be known on Imagine Dragons decision to play Azerbaijan. Tankian had been critical of popular artists playing in certain countries and it being viewed as a way to "whitewash" and normalize their human rights violations in the world view.

Upon learning of Imagine Dragons decision to play Azerbaijan, he wrote the band a letter attempting to educate them on the atrocities in the country and how their playing a show there would help "whitewash" the regime's image. His letter was met with a non-response.

"As the humanitarian crisis worsens in Nagorno-Karabagh with starvation already being recorded I am forced to publicize this letter and their disregard for this humanitarian catastrophe. Maybe they felt they had a legal liability to play the show, maybe they just don’t care," said Tankian at the time.

What Tankian Has Said Now About Imagine Dragons

When asked about the band's non-response, Tankian told Metal Hammer that he was frustrated and disappointed by the band's lack of reaction to the letter.

"I don't know these guys, but who are these people?" he says. "I don't understand that type of thinking."

"Very close thereafter, Azerbaijan attacked the people of Nagorno-Karabakh and 120,000 people left their historical homes," he added.

The singer continued, “Look, I'm not a judge for people to tell bands where to play, or where not to play. You have other artists playing in very questionable kingdoms, run by one person, where people don't have a lot of human rights, and I get that they're doing it for money, that they're artists, that they're entertaining, all of that. But when there's a government that's about to commit ethnic cleansing, when Azerbaijan was starving the 120,000 Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh, and not allowing any food or medicine in."

He continued, You know, as an artist, if I found that out, there is no fucking way I could have gone and played that show. But some artists do. And I don't know what to say about those artists. I don't respect them as human beings. Fuck their art, they're not good human beings, as far as I'm concerned."

Tankian then added, "If you are that blind to justice that you will go play a show in a country that's starving another country, illegally, according to the International Court of Justice, according to what Amnesty International is saying, what Human Rights Watch is saying… If you still go and play that country, I don't know what to say about you as a fucking human being. I don't even care about your music. If you're a bad human being, I don't give a fuck. So that's where I'm at with that. I have zero respect for those guys."

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Serj Tankian's Own Reasons for Speaking Out

Tankian tells Metal Hammer, "It's not about my ego. I just wanted to make positive change. I wanted those guys to know that what they're about to do is going to have bad repercussions. I was warning them for their own sake, for their own morality."

He adds, "I've been warning different organizations against using Azerbaijan as a venue because, again, if you allow them to have international links in a way where they feel like they're legitimate, they’re going to continue their bad behavior. You have a dictator who is doing ethnic cleansing, and he's getting more contracts, Formula 1 racing and rock shows, then he's going to think that it's okay to kill people. That's not okay. So you've got to break that link, you've got to let people know."

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