Wed August 13
The most extreme music is often made by the nicest people. Case in point: Aaron Turner, lead screamer of the elementally pulverizing hypnotic metal band Isis. He's also founder of the "it" label of underground art metal, Hydra Head Industries, which makes him responsible for disseminating some of the most seething crush ever put to vinyl. From Northwest mathcore legends Botch, to southern California drone-lords SUNN 0))), Turner has his hands in the leaden pie of heavy.
The label began "when I was still living in New Mexico, as a distro in '93," explains Turner. "And then I put out our first release in '95 just after I moved to Boston." For eight years Boston was the epicenter of the post-Neurosis sound. Quality and consistency kept the label growing steadily towards the revered status it holds for metal fans today. And the success of a once-small hardcore band called Cave In has made it possible for the label to expand and relocate to Los Angeles.
Since then, Cave-In has grown from a teenage metalcore band rocking on Hydra Head, to a full -ledged major label act rocking the Carson Daly Show. When asked if it was surreal to watch their transformation, Turner responds, "I think whatever the outcome is, if they explode, or if they steadily grow bit by bit and become a big underground band... it's probably beneficial for them. If nothing else, it's certainly an awesome experience and something that they'll probably learn a lot from."
It's this commitment to allowing bands to progress that lets Hydra Head constantly debut new acts that rule from the start. "To me, the most interesting bands are the ones that evolve from record to record. There are some bands I appreciate for their consistency, but as far as an overall approach to playing music and making records, I think evolution is really important and it helps maintain interest in a band." Even Turner's own band Isis has followed the model by self-releasing murky industrial doom records until eventually signing to Mike Patton's label, Ipecac.
Across the US, active Hydra Head artists are participating in the Champions of Sound tour. The Portland date features aggro-metallers Scissorfight, and Seattle noise-wizards Playing Enemy. Setting examples left and right, Hydra Head lives by one simple rule: Quality and consistency come first.