Aaron Turner

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Aaron Turner
Aaron Turner, B&W, Guitar — Isis @ Wagenhallen, Stuttgart, 2009-07-09.jpg
Turner performing live with Isis in Stuttgart, in 2009
Background information
Birth name Aaron Bradford Turner
Born (1977-11-05) November 5, 1977 (age 40)[1]
Springfield, Massachusetts, United States
Origin Boston, Massachusetts, United States
Genres Extreme metal, experimental, avant-rock, ambient
Instruments Vocals, guitar
Years active 1995–present
Labels Hydra Head, Ipecac, Neurot, SIGE
Associated acts Isis, Old Man Gloom, Sumac, Mamiffer, House of Low Culture, Split Cranium, Lotus Eaters, Twilight,[2] Unionsuit, Jodis, Greymachine
Website AaronBTurner.blogspot.com

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 band 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]

In addition to musical projects and Hydra Head, Turner is one of the owners of Vacation Vinyl, an independent record store based in Silver Lake, Los Angeles. Inspired by a local comic book store named Secret Headquarters, Turner set up Vacation – named after the 1983 movie – with Mark Thompson, David Ritchie and David Pifer in late February 2009.[4]

In partnership with his wife Faith Coloccia, Turner founded another record label, SIGE, in March 2011. It has gone on to distribute material from his musical collaboration with Coloccia, Mamiffer.[5]

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 12 years old, he began to smoke marijuana, as "in New Mexico, there wasn't a lot for kids to get involved in".[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.[6] 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.[6]

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.[7] Isis was formed in 1997 out of a dissatisfaction with said bands' musical direction and Turner and Caxide's respective degrees of creative control.[7]

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;[8] they went on to wed in September of the same year.[9]


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.[10] He has also acquired a custom guitar from the Electrical Guitar Company (as did fellow Isis guitarist Michael Gallagher).[11]

In the past, Turner has also used a Gibson Les Paul Standard, PRS CE24, and has played through Sunn, Mesa Boogie, and Mackie amplifiers.[12]

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.[12]

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.[13] 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, Tool, Neurosis, and Led Zeppelin as influences on Isis' sound. However, he points to the electronica and hip hop genres as shaping the group's rhythmic focus and use of sampling, as well as their occasional digressions into ambient passages.[14][15] He has also listed Melvins, Jimi Hendrix, Swans, Björk, Beastie Boys, 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.[6][16] In addition, he has noted Black Sabbath as an influence during his formative years.[17]


Performing live in Colchester, UK, in 2004.

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]

  • Submarine Immersion Techniques Vol. 1 (2000), Crowd Control Activities
  • Gettin' Sentimental [EP] (2002), Robotic Empire
  • Edward's Lament (2003), Neurot Recordings
  • Live from the House of Low Temperature! [EP] (2004), Hydra Head Records
  • Chinatown Squalls [EP] (2007), En/Of
  • Housing Tracts [Compilation] (2010), Sige
  • Uncrossing / Ice Mole [Split EP with Mamiffer] (2010), Utech Records
  • Lou Lou... In Tokyo [Split with Mamiffer and Merzbow] (2011), Sige
  • Cloey / Spoiled Fruits Of The Kingdom (Demo) [Split EP with Mamiffer] (2011), Sige
  • Perverted Scripture / Silent Night [Split EP with Mamiffer] (2011), Sige
  • Poisoned Soil (2011), Taiga Records/Sub Rosa
  • Mamiffer + HOLC [Split EP with Mamiffer] (2013), Sige
  • House of Low Culture / Caustic Touch / Daniel Menche / EMS [Split] (2017), Accident Prone

With Isis[edit]

With Jodis[edit]

  • Secret House (2009), Hydra Head Records
  • Black Curtain (2012), Hydra Head Records

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

With Old Man Gloom[edit]

With Split Cranium[edit]

With Sumac[edit]

  • The Deal (2015), Profound Lore
  • What One Becomes (2016), Thrill Jockey
  • Before You I Appear [EP] (2016), Thrill Jockey
  • WFMU [Live cassette] (2018), SIGE
  • American Dollar Bill - Keep Facing Sideways, You're Too Hideous To Look At Face On [with Keiji Haino] (2018), Thrill Jockey
  • Love In Shadow (2018, Thrill Jockey)

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...[29]

In 2008, Turner's artwork was featured in a FIFTY24SF Gallery group show entitled Catalyst.[30] 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.[36][37]
  1. ^ a b c d e Doreian, Robyn (May 2009). "Welcome to My World: Aaron Turner". Rock Sound (122): 40–41. 
  2. ^ Brandon, Stosuy (30 January 2007). "Isis Frontman Joins Black Metal Supergroup Twilight". Pitchfork Media. Archived from the original on 6 February 2009. Retrieved 13 September 2008. 
  3. ^ Neva, Damien (9 September 2003). "Fantasizing Hydra Head: A Conversation with Aaron Turner". Retrieved 29 March 2008. 
  4. ^ Bennett, J. (June 2009). "Vinyl Holiday". Decibel (56): 10. 
  5. ^ "Mamiffer's Faith Coloccia, Aaron Turner Form SIGE Record Label". Plug In Music. 7 March 2011. Retrieved 22 April 2011. 
  6. ^ a b c Carioli, Carly (4–11 February 1999). "Metal Health". The Boston Phoenix. The Phoenix Media/Communications Group. Archived from the original on 24 December 2007. Retrieved 13 May 2008. 
  7. ^ a b Hill, Mike (13 May 2011). "Isis' Aaron Turner: Musical Renaissance Man – Exclusive Interview". Noisecreep. AOL. Retrieved 29 June 2011. 
  8. ^ Bennett, J. (June 2009). "Five Alive". Decibel (56): 68–73. 
  9. ^ Turner, Aaron (29 September 2009). "Just Got Married". Feral Pig. Retrieved 22 April 2011. 
  10. ^ "Aaron Turner ISIS 10 Year Anniversary Tour". GeekChat/GuitarGeek. 2007. Retrieved 25 November 2007. 
  11. ^ Turner, Aaron (2008). "HYDRA HEAD SXSW Poster". FERAL PIG/ the aural & visual art of Aaron Turner. Retrieved 31 December 2008. 
  12. ^ a b Porosky, Pamela (2005). "Isis". Guitar Player Magazine. New Bay Media, LLC. Archived from the original on 10 December 2007. Retrieved 13 December 2007. 
  13. ^ Maximus (2016). "RIGGED: SUMAC's Aaron Turner, Brian Cook, and Nick Yacyshyn". Gear Gods. Blast Beat Network. Retrieved 22 November 2017. 
  14. ^ Donnelly, Justin (2005). "ISIS feature interview at Blistering.com". Blistering. Retrieved 13 December 2007. 
  15. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 28 December 2013. Retrieved 2013-07-10. 
  16. ^ "Ten Questions with Aaron Turner of ISIS". HavocTV.com. 2007. Archived from the original on 9 February 2008. Retrieved 3 December 2007. 
  17. ^ Rauf, Adam (18 June 2010). "The Isis Interview: Exclusive". Blow the Scene. Retrieved 22 April 2011. 
  18. ^ a b "Grey Machine Discography". Godflesh. 27 December 2009. Retrieved 27 August 2011. 
  19. ^ "Unionsuit: Biography". Second Nature Recordings. Retrieved 29 March 2008. 
  20. ^ "27 – Let the Light In". Scene Point Blank. 6 April 2004. Retrieved 10 August 2011. 
  21. ^ Gibb, Rory (14 June 2011). "Boris: Heavy Rocks / Attention Please". The Quietus. Retrieved 10 August 2011. 
  22. ^ "Chelsea Wolfe: New Album Announced, New Song Released, New Tour Dates Announced!". MetalSucks.net. 2017-06-14. Retrieved 2017-06-14. 
  23. ^ Yancey, Bryne (30 April 2012). "Converge, Napalm Death plan split 7-inch". Alternative Press. Retrieved 1 May 2012. 
  24. ^ Pessaro, Fred (March 2017). "FULL OF HELL FULFILL ALL PROMISES WITH BEST LP YET". Clryvnt. Retrieved 26 July 2017. 
  25. ^ O T H E R (CD liner notes). Lustmord. Hydra Head Records. 2008. HH666-157. 
  26. ^ McBay, Nadine (27 October 2009). "Pelican – What We Come to Need". Drowned in Sound. Retrieved 25 July 2011. 
  27. ^ "V" Is for Viagra. The Remixes (CD liner notes). Puscifer. Puscifer Entertainment. 2008. 
  28. ^ https://www.facebook.com/samuelkerridge/photos/a.755147347940732.1073741825.254101808045291/1494983123957147/?type=3&theater
  29. ^ Turner, Aaron (10 March 2008). "Negative Approach". FERAL PIG / the aural & visual art of Aaron Turner. Retrieved 8 April 2008. 
  30. ^ ""Catalyst" Opens Tonight at FIFTY24SF Gallery". Juxtapoz. 4 September 2008. Retrieved 25 April 2011. 
  31. ^ "Telestic Disfracture – 5ive". allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 28 June 2011. 
  32. ^ "Breaking the Fourth Wall – Beecher". allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 28 June 2011. 
  33. ^ "Northern Failures – Cable". allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 28 June 2011. 
  34. ^ Turner, Aaron (29 April 2011). "Cave In "White Silence" LP". Feral Pig. Retrieved 30 April 2011. 
  35. ^ Turner, Aaron (20 August 2011). "COALESCE, BLACK FACE, etc". feral pig. Retrieved 22 August 2011. 
  36. ^ Butler, Blake. "Petitioning the Empty Sky – Credits". allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 3 August 2010. 
  37. ^ Gramlich, Chris (2005). "Waiting on Forever: Part I". Petitioning the Empty Sky (Reissue) (CD booklet). Converge. Albany, New York: Equal Vision Records. EVR109. 
  38. ^ "Bodies for Strontium 90 – Craw". allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 28 June 2011. 
  39. ^ "Drowningman Still Loves You – Drowningman". allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 28 June 2011. 
  40. ^ "War & Wine – The Dukes of Nothing". allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 28 June 2011. 
  41. ^ Mosquito Control (Media notes). Isis. Escape Artist Recordings. 1998. EA3.0. 
  42. ^ The Red Sea (Media notes). Isis. Second Nature Recordings. 1999. SN014. 
  43. ^ Celestial (Media notes). Isis. Escape Artist Records. 1999. EA7.0. 
  44. ^ SGNL›05 (Media notes). Isis. Neurot Recordings. 2001. NR012. 
  45. ^ Oceanic (Media notes). Isis. Ipecac Recordings. 2002. IPC-032. 
  46. ^ Panopticon (CD liner notes). Isis. Ipecac Recordings. 2004. IPC-057. 
  47. ^ In the Absence of Truth (Media notes). Isis. Ipecac Recordings. 2006. IPC-081. 
  48. ^ Not in Rivers, But in Drops (Digipak single notes). Isis. Ipecac Recordings. 2008. IPC-099. 
  49. ^ Wavering Radiant (Digipak liner notes). Isis. Conspiracy Records. 2009. CORE-078. 
  50. ^ Turner, Aaron (10 June 2010). "torche/boris test prints, isis/melvins split, etc". Feral Pig. Retrieved 10 April 2011. 
  51. ^ "Atomsmasher – James Plotkin's Atomsmasher". allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 28 June 2011. 
  52. ^ Silver (CD liner notes). Jesu. Hydra Head Records. 2006. HH666-110. 
  53. ^ "Lifeline – Jesu". allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 29 June 2011. 
  54. ^ "Mongrel – KEN mode". allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 28 June 2011. 
  55. ^ Guitar Method (Media notes). Kid Kilowatt. Hydra Head Records. 2003. HH666-48. 
  56. ^ "Hello Motherfucker – Milligram". allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 28 June 2011. 
  57. ^ "All Reflections Drained – Xasthur". allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 28 June 2011.