Aaron Turner

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Aaron Turner
Turner performing live with Isis in Stuttgart, in 2009
Turner performing live with Isis in Stuttgart, in 2009
Background information
Birth nameAaron Bradford Turner
Born (1977-11-05) November 5, 1977 (age 42)[1]
Springfield, Massachusetts, United States
OriginBoston, Massachusetts, United States
GenresExtreme metal, experimental, avant-rock, ambient
InstrumentsVocals, guitar
Years active1995–present
LabelsHydra Head, Ipecac, Neurot, SIGE
Associated actsIsis, Old Man Gloom, Sumac, Mamiffer, House of Low Culture, Split Cranium, Lotus Eaters, Twilight,[2] Unionsuit, Jodis, Greymachine

Aaron Turner (born November 5, 1977) is an American musician, singer, graphic artist, and founder of label Hydra Head Records. He is most widely known for his role as guitarist and vocalist for the post-metal bands SUMAC and Isis, while also participating in several other bands and projects such as Old Man Gloom, Lotus Eaters and Split Cranium, a collaboration with Jussi Lehtisalo of Finnish band Circle who toured with Isis in 2009.

Though raised in New Mexico, Turner moved to the Boston area where he attended school and formed Isis and Hydra Head. In June 2003, Turner moved operations of both the band and label to Los Angeles, California.[3] Turner now resides in Vashon, WA which is also the base of operations for Hydra Head and his various other activities.[4]

In partnership with his wife Faith Coloccia, Turner founded another record label, SIGE, in March 2011. It has gone on to release material from his musical collaboration with Coloccia, Mamiffer.[5] SIGE is distributed by The Business.[6]

Personal life[edit]

Turner was born in Springfield, Massachusetts on November 5, 1977.[1] At an early age, his family moved to New Mexico, where he was raised.[1] His mother was a teacher "who taught a progressive curriculum" and his father an author, "mainly [of] non-fiction". Turner describes his upbringing, surrounded by his parents' writer, artist and photographer friends, as "creatively nurturing".[1] At age 17, he started a company that sold rare punk rock records via mail-order. He later moved to Boston to attend art school at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, and in 1995 began releasing music. By 1997, the Hydra Head label was becoming a respectable small record label.[7] Turner describes his early industriousness as being motivated in part by boredom:

I grew up in New Mexico, and there wasn't a whole lot as far as youth culture is concerned. Especially when I started to get interested in straight edge and wasn't doing drugs anymore, there was really nothing for me to do. So that was like a big reason for me, I suppose, to become really productive. Also, I've never been a really social person. So there's not a lot of time taken up by my social life. And music has always been a very very big part of my life. I guess just a combination of those factors is why everything got started so early.[7]

Around 1997–99, Turner was living with future Isis bassist and co-founder Jeff Caxide; until this point, he had been a member of the bands Union Suit and Hollomen.[8] Isis was formed in 1997 out of a dissatisfaction with said bands' musical direction and Turner and Caxide's respective degrees of creative control.[8]

In mid-2009, Turner moved from Los Angeles, where both Isis and Hydra Head Records were based at the time, to Seattle with his then-girlfriend, Faith Coloccia;[9] they went on to wed in September of the same year.[10]


Touring with Isis in 2007, Turner used two different guitars: a 1976 Fender Telecaster Custom (black), and a 1975 Fender Telecaster Deluxe (brown), played through various effects (his pedalboard layout changed every gig depending on what songs the band decided to play that night), a VHT/Fryette Pitbull Ultra Lead, and two 4x12 Sunn cabinets.[11] He has also acquired a custom guitar from the Electrical Guitar Company (as did fellow Isis guitarist Michael Gallagher).[12]

In the past, Turner has also used a Gibson Les Paul Standard, PRS CE24, and has played through Sunn, Mesa Boogie, and Mackie amplifiers.[13]

When playing with Isis, Turner and his fellow guitarists usually tuned their instruments (low to high) B-F#-B-E-G#-B, to achieve a heavier sound. They also used other tunings, though less frequently, such as F# (octave below)-F#-B-E-G#-B.[13]

In 2016, Turner described the live rig he used with SUMAC as consisting of two custom-built guitars from the Electrical Guitar Company. Both have lucite bodies and aluminum necks, and custom-wound wide frequency range pickups. The newer of the two—a prototype for a signature model—has a slightly flatter fingerboard radius than the older instrument. On a tour of the Eastern US, Turner was using an Orange Dual Dark 100 amplifier head with a slaved Fryette Two/Ninety/Two power amp. Both heads drove Orange and Marshall cabinets, though Turner claimed to have no strong preferences for particular speaker cabinets. While recording, Turner prefers to use a Fryette Pitbull Ultra Lead, an amp model he's used consistently since his work in Isis. Turner described using a variety of effects pedals in his live rig. Specifically, he runs a BOSS TU-3 Chromatic Tuner, a Death By Audio Apocalypse fuzz, a MASF fuzz, a Strymon BlueSky reverb (which he described as the one essential pedal in his rig), a TC Electronics Ditto Looper X2, and an EHX Forty-Five Thousand sampler (used to trigger preset samples during performance. Turner prefers a Heil PR20 vocal microphone.[14] When playing with Sumac he uses two distinct tunings being A-F#-B-D-F#-B and A#-F-A#-D-F#-A#.

Musical influences[edit]

Turner cites Pink Floyd, King Crimson, Godflesh, Neurosis, and Led Zeppelin as influences on Isis' sound. However, he points to the electronica, krautrock and hip hop genres as shaping the group's rhythmic focus and use of sampling, as well as their occasional digressions into ambient passages.[15][16] He has also listed Melvins, Jimi Hendrix, Swans, Keiji Haino, Oxbow, Earth, and Coil as among his favorite artists, and has noted that Megadeth, Metallica, and Slayer were important to his early interests in the guitar.[7][17] In addition, he has noted Black Sabbath as an influence during his formative years.[18]


Performing live in Colchester, UK, in 2004.


  • Interminable Conniption (2019), The Tapeworm / Sige
  • Repression's Blossom (2019), Sige

With Daniel Menche[edit]

  • NOX (2017), Sige

With Drawing Voices[edit]

  • Drawing Voices (2007), Hydra Head Records

With Greymachine[edit]

With Hollomen[edit]

  • "Brand New Genius" [single] (1997), Hydra Head Records

With House of Low Culture[edit]

With Isis[edit]

With Jodis[edit]

With Lotus Eaters[edit]

With Mamiffer[edit]

  • Hirror Enniffer (2008), Hydra Head Records
  • Uncrossing / Ice Mole Split EP with House of Low Culture (2010), Utech Records
  • Iron Road II / Fake Witch Split 12" with Oakeater (2011), Sige
  • Lou Lou... In Tokyo Split with House of Low Culture and Merzbow (2011), Sige
  • Perverted Scripture / Silent Night Split EP with House of Low Culture (2011), Sige
  • Mare Decendrii (2011), Sige
  • Bless Them That Curse You Collaboration LP with Locrian (2011), Sige
  • Mamiffer / Pyramids Split LP with Pyramids (2012), Hydra Head Records
  • Enharmonic Intervals (for Paschen organ) Collaboration LP with Circle (2013), Sige
  • Statu Nascendi (2014), Sige
  • Crater Collaboration LP with Daniel Menche (2015), Sige
  • The World Unseen (2016), Sige
  • Recordings For Lilac III limited cassette (2017), The Tapeworm
  • The Brilliant Tabernacle (2019), Sige
  • Ae/Be EP, (2020), Sige
  • Mettapatterning for Constellation, (2020), Sige

With Marshall Trammell[edit]

  • Experimental Love I & II (2020), Sige

With Old Man Gloom[edit]

With Pharaoh Overlord[edit]

  • 6 (2020), Rocket Recordings

With Split Cranium[edit]

With Sumac[edit]

With Summer of Seventeen[edit]

  • Summer of Seventeen (2020, Karlrecords)

With Tashi Dorji[edit]

  • Turn!Turn!Turn (2019), Sige

With Thalassa[edit]

  • Bonds of Prosperity (2017), Sige

With Twilight[edit]

With Unionsuit[edit]

As a guest contributor[edit]


Turner's artwork tends toward the abstract or surreal, often depicting strange or fantastic landscapes and structures. His work on album covers, concert posters, and other music-related graphics is distinct from typical work in heavy metal or rock graphic design. In part, this may be because of the way that Turner views his objectives in creating designs, which he has discussed on his blog in response to criticism of the clarity of text on one of his concert posters:

I also generally reject the idea that posters and album sleeves and t shirts have to be marketing tools with overly obvious type/graphics, as opposed to more artistically oriented pieces that invoke the true spirit of the music they are intended to represent. if the bands being represented aren't writing 3 minute pop songs with inane choruses that beat the listener into submission, why should the representative graphics serve that purpose? i like to think the audience that follows these bands isn't the type of audience that requires overly simplified/commercial imagery and type in order to draw their attention to the "product". it is precisely the type of corporate design mentality as exemplified by the statement above that i have striven to avoid with what i do in the realm of music related graphics. we're not trying to sell our music to wal-mart shoppers, so if you expect our graphic personality to fall in line with what you were taught in design school about corporate branding and "truly effective" type and illustration techniques you shall be continually disappointed. clean type has its time and place, but this poster which is meant to showcase the personality of our label and by extension the show itself isn't it. music related design can be art simply beyond the idea of selling something...[31]

In 2008, Turner's artwork was featured in a FIFTY24SF Gallery group show entitled Catalyst.[32] Turner has created album covers and liner note artwork for a variety of artists and bands, many of whom are signed to Hydra Head Records or Tortuga Recordings.


  1. ^ Turner provided two separate pieces of album art; for both the original 1996 release and the 2005 remaster.[38][39]
  1. ^ a b c d Doreian, Robyn (May 2009). "Welcome to My World: Aaron Turner". Rock Sound (122): 40–41.
  2. ^ Brandon, Stosuy (January 30, 2007). "Isis Frontman Joins Black Metal Supergroup Twilight". Archived from the original on February 6, 2009. Retrieved September 13, 2008.
  3. ^ Neva, Damien (September 9, 2003). "Fantasizing Hydra Head: A Conversation with Aaron Turner". Retrieved March 29, 2008.
  4. ^ "The Secret Island Life of Mamiffer". Invisible Oranges – The Metal Blog. Retrieved April 26, 2019.
  5. ^ "Mamiffer's Faith Coloccia, Aaron Turner Form SIGE Record Label". Plug in Music. March 7, 2011. Archived from the original on March 25, 2012. Retrieved April 22, 2011.
  6. ^ Rennis, Nick. "Almost exactly four years ago, a fateful convergence". The Business on Facebook. Retrieved August 23, 2020.
  7. ^ a b c Carioli, Carly (February 4–11, 1999). "Metal Health". The Boston Phoenix. The Phoenix Media/Communications Group. Archived from the original on December 24, 2007. Retrieved May 13, 2008.
  8. ^ a b Hill, Mike (May 13, 2011). "Isis' Aaron Turner: Musical Renaissance Man – Exclusive Interview". Noisecreep. AOL. Retrieved June 29, 2011.
  9. ^ Bennett, J. (June 2009). "Five Alive". Decibel (56): 68–73.
  10. ^ Turner, Aaron (September 29, 2009). "Just Got Married". Feral Pig. Retrieved April 22, 2011.
  11. ^ "Aaron Turner ISIS 10 Year Anniversary Tour". GeekChat/GuitarGeek. 2007. Retrieved November 25, 2007.
  12. ^ Turner, Aaron (2008). "HYDRA HEAD SXSW Poster". FERAL PIG/ the aural & visual art of Aaron Turner. Retrieved December 31, 2008.
  13. ^ a b Porosky, Pamela (2005). "Isis". Guitar Player Magazine. New Bay Media, LLC. Archived from the original on December 10, 2007. Retrieved December 13, 2007.
  14. ^ Maximus (2016). "RIGGED: SUMAC's Aaron Turner, Brian Cook, and Nick Yacyshyn". Gear Gods. Blast Beat Network. Retrieved November 22, 2017.
  15. ^ Donnelly, Justin (2005). "ISIS feature interview at Blistering.com". Blistering. Archived from the original on October 22, 2006. Retrieved December 13, 2007.
  16. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on December 28, 2013. Retrieved July 10, 2013.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  17. ^ "Ten Questions with Aaron Turner of ISIS". HavocTV.com. 2007. Archived from the original on February 9, 2008. Retrieved December 3, 2007.
  18. ^ Rauf, Adam (June 18, 2010). "The Isis Interview: Exclusive". Blow the Scene. Retrieved April 22, 2011.
  19. ^ a b "Grey Machine Discography". Godflesh. December 27, 2009. Retrieved August 27, 2011.
  20. ^ "Unionsuit: Biography". Second Nature Recordings. Retrieved March 29, 2008.
  21. ^ "27 – Let the Light In". Scene Point Blank. April 6, 2004. Retrieved August 10, 2011.
  22. ^ Gibb, Rory (June 14, 2011). "Boris: Heavy Rocks / Attention Please". The Quietus. Retrieved August 10, 2011.
  23. ^ "Chelsea Wolfe: New Album Announced, New Song Released, New Tour Dates Announced!". MetalSucks.net. June 14, 2017. Retrieved June 14, 2017.
  24. ^ Yancey, Bryne (April 30, 2012). "Converge, Napalm Death plan split 7-inch". Alternative Press. Retrieved May 1, 2012.
  25. ^ "Dekathlon: The Thin Road 7″". Ektro Records. Retrieved November 24, 2019.
  26. ^ Pessaro, Fred (March 2017). "FULL OF HELL FULFILL ALL PROMISES WITH BEST LP YET". Clryvnt. Retrieved July 26, 2017.
  27. ^ O T H E R (CD liner notes). Lustmord. Hydra Head Records. 2008. HH666-157.CS1 maint: others (link)
  28. ^ McBay, Nadine (October 27, 2009). "Pelican – What We Come to Need". Drowned in Sound. Retrieved July 25, 2011.
  29. ^ "V" Is for Viagra. The Remixes (CD liner notes). Puscifer. Puscifer Entertainment. 2008.CS1 maint: others (link)
  30. ^ https://www.facebook.com/samuelkerridge/photos/a.755147347940732.1073741825.254101808045291/1494983123957147/?type=3&theater[non-primary source needed]
  31. ^ Turner, Aaron (March 10, 2008). "Negative Approach". FERAL PIG / the aural & visual art of Aaron Turner. Retrieved April 8, 2008.
  32. ^ ""Catalyst" Opens Tonight at FIFTY24SF Gallery". Juxtapoz. September 4, 2008. Archived from the original on March 18, 2012. Retrieved April 25, 2011.
  33. ^ "Telestic Disfracture – 5ive". AllMusic. Retrieved June 28, 2011.
  34. ^ "Breaking the Fourth Wall – Beecher". AllMusic. Retrieved June 28, 2011.
  35. ^ "Northern Failures – Cable". AllMusic. Retrieved June 28, 2011.
  36. ^ Turner, Aaron (April 29, 2011). "Cave In "White Silence" LP". Feral Pig. Retrieved April 30, 2011.
  37. ^ Turner, Aaron (August 20, 2011). "COALESCE, BLACK FACE, etc". feral pig. Retrieved August 22, 2011.
  38. ^ Butler, Blake. "Petitioning the Empty Sky – Credits". AllMusic. Retrieved August 3, 2010.
  39. ^ Gramlich, Chris (2005). "Waiting on Forever: Part I". Petitioning the Empty Sky (Reissue) (CD booklet). Converge. Albany, New York: Equal Vision Records. EVR109.
  40. ^ "Bodies for Strontium 90 – Craw". AllMusic. Retrieved June 28, 2011.
  41. ^ "Drowningman Still Loves You – Drowningman". AllMusic. Retrieved June 28, 2011.
  42. ^ "War & Wine – The Dukes of Nothing". AllMusic. Retrieved June 28, 2011.
  43. ^ Mosquito Control (Media notes). Isis. Escape Artist Recordings. 1998. EA3.0.CS1 maint: others (link)
  44. ^ The Red Sea (Media notes). Isis. Second Nature Recordings. 1999. SN014.CS1 maint: others (link)
  45. ^ Celestial (Media notes). Isis. Escape Artist Records. 1999. EA7.0.CS1 maint: others (link)
  46. ^ SGNL›05 (Media notes). Isis. Neurot Recordings. 2001. NR012.CS1 maint: others (link)
  47. ^ Oceanic (Media notes). Isis. Ipecac Recordings. 2002. IPC-032.CS1 maint: others (link)
  48. ^ Panopticon (CD liner notes). Isis. Ipecac Recordings. 2004. IPC-057.CS1 maint: others (link)
  49. ^ In the Absence of Truth (Media notes). Isis. Ipecac Recordings. 2006. IPC-081.CS1 maint: others (link)
  50. ^ Not in Rivers, But in Drops (Digipak single notes). Isis. Ipecac Recordings. 2008. IPC-099.CS1 maint: others (link)
  51. ^ Wavering Radiant (Digipak liner notes). Isis. Conspiracy Records. 2009. CORE-078.CS1 maint: others (link)
  52. ^ Turner, Aaron (June 10, 2010). "torche/boris test prints, isis/melvins split, etc". Feral Pig. Retrieved April 10, 2011.
  53. ^ "Atomsmasher – James Plotkin's Atomsmasher". AllMusic. Retrieved June 28, 2011.
  54. ^ Silver (CD liner notes). Jesu. Hydra Head Records. 2006. HH666-110.CS1 maint: others (link)
  55. ^ "Lifeline – Jesu". AllMusic. Retrieved June 29, 2011.
  56. ^ "Mongrel – KEN mode". AllMusic. Retrieved June 28, 2011.
  57. ^ Guitar Method (Media notes). Kid Kilowatt. Hydra Head Records. 2003. HH666-48.CS1 maint: others (link)
  58. ^ "Hello Motherfucker – Milligram". AllMusic. Retrieved June 28, 2011.
  59. ^ "All Reflections Drained – Xasthur". AllMusic. Retrieved June 28, 2011.