System of a Down‘s Serj Tankian has been publicly critical of Imagine Dragons after the band stayed silent and did not cancel a scheduled concert in Azerbaijan last fall, but singer Dan Reynolds has now offered his first comments on the matter.

Tankian has been vocal about popular musicians playing countries with questionable human rights histories being viewed as a way to “whitewash” and normalize the countries’ actions. In particular, he’s spoken out about Imagine Dragons, who agreed to play a show in Azerbaijan, initially writing them a letter explaining the reasons why playing there would be sending a bad message. That letter was met with a non-response.

He’s since followed by calling them out in interviews, telling Metal Hammer last month, “I don’t know these guys, but who are these people? I don’t understand that type of thinking,” in reference to the lack of a response and the decision to move forward with the show.

Revisiting his argument, he explained, “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.”

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What Dan Reynolds Said About Playing Azerbaijan

While the band had mostly stayed silent on the Azerbaijan show, Reynolds addressed the matter during a recent interview with Rolling Stone. When asked if he had any regrets about playing the show (as well as one in Israel), the singer responded, “No. I don’t believe in depriving our fans who want to see us play because of the acts of their leaders and their governments. I think that’s a really slippery slope. I think the second you start to do that, there’s corrupt leaders and warmongers all over the world, and where do you draw the line?”

When asked a follow-up question about Tankian’s public rebuke and if he had a response, Reynolds added, “I think I just said it. It’s a slippery slope, and I’m never going to deprive our fans of playing for them.”

At present, Imagine Dragons are preparing for the next North American leg of touring.

How Serj Tankian Responded to Dan Reynolds’ Comments

After Reynolds comments in his Rolling Stone interview went public, Tankian then offered a response on social media. In his posting, Tankian revisited Reynolds comments about depriving fans who want to see them play because of the actions of their leaders and governments.

He responded, “Respectfully, I draw the line at ethnic cleansing and genocide. Azerbaijan’s dictatorship with popular support was already into a 9 month starvation blockade of Nagorno-Karabagh qualified as Genocide by former @icc prosecutor @luismorenoocampo when they decided to play Baku. Would they play in Nazi Germany? Why don’t they want to play in Russia? Because it’s not popular?”

Tankian continued, “They support Ukraine but not Armenians of Artsakh? The only ‘slippery slope’ is the farce moral equivalency at the heart of this hypocritical attitude. I have nothing against this guy nor his band. I just hate artists being taken advantage of to whitewash Genocidal dictatorships.”

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