Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The Imminent Demise of Hydra Head Records

Hydra Head Records has never been a smooth-running operation. We've spent the majority of our existence excitedly scrambling from one thing to the next, taking on more than we could ever possibly hope to achieve, and never quite finding solid footing in the midst of our self-induced whirlwind of chaos. Though not every second of doing this label has been enjoyable, it has been a very rewarding and meaningful project for me, and I hope for many of the other lives to which it has been directly connected. The fact that it has lasted close to two decades at this point is astonishing, and much has changed during that time - the lives of those directly involved with running the label, the bands and artists we've worked with, and the nature of the music industry itself. Though many of these changes have been positive, or at least illuminating, the impact of our history and current industry  circumstances are culminating into a slow and somewhat painful death for the label. It certainly isn't an entirely unforeseen event, but we didn't think it would come quite so abruptly, or (perhaps naively) ever.

The decision to pull the plug has not been an easy one, and in some ways is a not a choice at all.  The simple fact of the matter is we've been running on empty for a while now and cannot afford to keep our doors open for much longer. Years of imbalance between creative ideals and financial realities, personal problems amongst the label operators, an unwillingness to compromise our aesthetic standards, a tendency towards releasing challenging (i.e. unmarketable) artists, and the steady decline of the music industry in general, are amongst the chief reasons for our inability to continue. It is a harsh but undeniable reality, and one which we are attempting to confront with as much integrity and grace as is afforded by the circumstances.

For the short term we will continue to operate as we have been, effecting our first step into shutdown this December, at which point we are cutting off new releases from the label. Thereafter, we will be remain operational only in the interest of maintaining our back catalog, with the ultimate aim of repaying our rather sizable debts. Grim though this prospect is, in the midst of it all I still feel an extreme gratitude for everything that has happened and for all the wonderful people with which we've been involved over the years. We've been lucky enough to work with some of the most unique and provocative artists of the last two decades, many of which have made indelible impressions in the underground, and by extension the larger world of music in general. We've also been fortunate to have had the support of a small but loyal following, who've constitute the very essence of our life force. We would like to take this opportunity to express our gratitude and love to each and every person who contributed to making this label what it is - all the artists who entrusted us as the custodians of their work, all the people that bought or listened to our releases, and all the people who performed the various label duties at various offices (and houses) across the continent. 

...and this brings us to the present moment, where in all honesty we are in need of financial assistance from anyone and everyone who's willing to throw us a rope. Though it is highly unlikely we'll be able to resuscitate the label, we do wish to follow through on the final round of releases to which we're committed and pay off our debts to our artists and manufacturers. In order to do this we are initiating a massive sell-off of everything we can dig up and produce for the next 6-12 months. This will include discounted bundles of CDs/LPs/posters/etc, represses of certain titles for which we still have parts, test pressings, and whatever worthwhile items we can pull together. For anyone that is able and willing to fund our funereal arrangements please visit our direct mailorder or webstore and pick up whatever you can. Any and all support is greatly appreciated by our remaining team, and will be put to the best use possible.

There is no way to sum up nearly 20 years of incredibly important music, experiences, and evolution other than to say a big heart felt "thank you", and that we hope this closing will provide an opening into other even more positive and rewarding experiences for all of us and all of you who have been a part of our shared experience. For now we bid you all a very fond farewell....

-Aaron Turner
09/10/12

17 comments:

Kyle Norris said...

This is very sad. Hydra Head has always been my favorite underdog label, and has produced some of the best, most ground-breaking music I have heard. Long live HH.

Jay Hill said...

Aaron, we all owe you a tremendous "thank you" for the many years spent sacrificing your blood and sweat, time and energy to bring us Pelican, Jesu, Sunn, Boris, Converge, Cave In, Pyramids and all the others. Words cannot express the debt of gratitude that we owe you for all of the pride and effort you've put into HHR. I think I speak for many of your fans out there when I say that you have truly made our lives better over the last seventeen years. Sincerely man, thank you!

RideWithTheDevil said...

This breaks my heart :(
I've been an avid fan of Hydra Head since my early teens.
Can't help much in the way of anything finical, but have just ordered a couple of shirts and the Jodis album. Hope this can help in some way.

Rafa said...

Hyadra Head has been for me one the most influential records label around the world. Bad news, so all my support for the staff and Aaron. Nothing will be the same whitout you.

Anonymous said...

Damn. Sad news to be sure. I appreciate your perspective and candor. Unfortunate times when artistic integrity and success struggle to coexist. I can say that looking back on my years of enjoying music, I can't think of another time I've identified music with a label as much as with an artist. Usually it's "can't wait for the next Pink Floyd album", not,"hey, when is the next Sony album coming out". Hydra Head has been an exception. You managed to create an expectation around your label. One that led me to artists that I might not of otherwise discovered and have now become a fan of. Very grateful for your contribution to music and for the efforts of all those who helped bring this label to life.

Bob D.

CD14224 said...

Aaron,

Shocked...Saddened.. Only words that I really come to mind.. Not only will I, but the many, many fans miss Hydra Head. Speaking for myself, the label has afforded me an opportunity to listen and discover many bands that I would never have found. For that I thank you. It's a sad day when someone with a vision and abides by their aesthetic has to call it quits. Aaron, et al, THANK YOU so much.. If there is any way I can help make a small dent in the debt owed, let me know..

Chris

Mark Dawursk said...

Farts.

Kris said...

Wow, this almost seems unreal. Having Hydra Head Records shut down is like having my favourite park as a kid demolished. Hydra Head Records have supplied me with a lot of my favourite albums over the years and I thank you all greatly for it.

и said...

i saw isis twice on their final tour and i didn't recognize you, aaron, when you sold me an old man gloom t shirt in portland last week. i was too excited to hear your shit live to realize and i was not disappointed. had i known about this and known it was you, i might have got all sappy. lucky you, right??!
this is sad news and i'm fucking sorry to hear it. hydra head had so much good to offer and i hope it's able to convert into something else in the future. thank you for what you've all been able to accomplish and i hope all the artists who are affected by this are able to continue on without hindrance.

Sergio said...

I bought every Jesu release I could. Hope this help you out!!!

Daniel Hay said...

Wow. Did not see this coming at all! Hard to believe really. I never was very good at articulating my thoughts and feelings, so I will try and keep this short.

Hydra Head has put put some of the most formative bands for me. Isis especially. Isis literally changed the way I heard and experienced music. Isis opened my mind to so many different styles of music. So I thank you for being such a key aspect in my musical growth. In my opinion you are one of the most important musicians of my generation, if not all time. And Hydra Head one of the most important labels. You guys have paved the way for so many artists and given so many artists the chance to to unleash their sonic assault upon the masses. HAIL SATAN!

-Daniel

Michael Beier said...

Devastating ... The recent end of "Hydra Head Europe" (Conspiracy Records) was a terrible blow already, this makes it even worse. It's perverse that the most evil banks are saved with taxpayers' money and at the same time some of the most vital record labels disappear, phenomena that aren't that unconnected ...

On a more constructive level, Aaron, the comments on the HH page suggesting Kickstarter should be taken seriously, Dylan Carlson raised more than 30 000 bucks for his solo album ...

See you soon, peace and respect
Michael

snowflake said...

Goodbye hydra head and thank you so much for the records that mean so much to me .gareth .. U.K ..

Vlad said...

Hydra Head will remain in my memory as one of the most 'tasty' and original label. Thank you for all the work, Aaron.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for everything.

ihor dawidiuk said...

Aaron. This is a sad yet, as you mention yourself, not entirely unforeseen. In a sea of mediocrity truly innovative and exceptional art will be quelled. God bless you for not compromising the ideals that made Hydra Head awesome in the first place. To quote Kurt Cobain quoting Neil Young, "it's better to burn out than to fade away".... Thanks for the awesome memories and releasing some of the coolest bands around. Two decades of Hydra Head cannot almost atone for the 50 years of commercial shit we've all been subjected to.

id

$ + \/ /-\ |~ + said...

I loved the HH roster and am proud to own so many gorgeous pieces of vinyl from this label.
I was strangely affected by ISIS' break up. They were/are hugely important in my life.
Now this, it's so sad. I hope all those involved rise like a phoenix from the ashes and haunt us in different forms.
Viva la HH!