July 22, 2010

Cause & Effect : July 22nd : Isis

Tonight's set from 7pm to 9pm is extra special because all of the song's were picked by Aaron Turner of Isis / Hydra Head plus he took the time to add little footnotes about most of the songs. If you ever wondered who the bands were that influenced Isis and what a mix tape by the band telling that story would sound like, tonight is the show for you. You can only hear it on WRIR, 97.3 FM in Richmond, VA or you can stream us live at www.wrir.org.

I am extra pleased to announce that Cave In have stepped up to the plate and donated a live track taken from their set with Isis last month in Montreal that was recorded off the soundboard. Considering the bond between Isis and Cave In as both bands and friends, I could ask for a more special bonus gift to our radio set.

And if Isis and Cave In aren't enough of a reason to tune in, you will also hear music by Hendrix, Godflesh, Slint, Neil Young, Slayer, Neurosis, and Rorschach to name a few.

Ohhhh, and one final note. Aaron gave me so much music to pick from that there is in fact a third hour of music that I will turn into a podcast for you listening pleasure.

On a personal note.....

I just finished reading the new Patti Smith book Just Kids and she writes something along the lines that when you are young, you can't quite grasp when special MOMENTS are in the making. By moments she means something you will look back on in 20, 40, 60 years and think "WOW....that was history in the making right there!" I am starting to look back through my past and have similar revelations. I have met, worked with, and befriended so many talented, wonderful people over the years. I couldn't have guessed who of those people would eventually register on the rock and roll time line as important but as time continues to push forward, more of these kinds of "moments" are surfacing from my past.

My memory is relatively poor, so I don't always have perfect recollection of how some of these people entered my life. With Isis, there were three forces working together around the same time. I liked their music and I was also a fan of the label Hydra Head that Aaron Turner from Isis was / still is part owner of. We had / have many mutual friends and at the center of that nucleus was / is the band Cave In. I was also working for a distribution company for over a decade that would eventually pick up Hyrdra Head so my friendship with the band was pretty much just a matter of time.

I can't begin to guess how many times I have seen Cave In play but they often shared a bill with Isis. The members of CI assured me Aaron and I probably would hit it off because we are both serious record collectors with eclectic tastes. I met all the Isis members somewhere around the late '90s and it seemed like every other month we were crossing paths. My friendship with Aaron grew from that point on. They were constantly in NYC for work or to play or I was in Boston doing the same so it was easy to connect without making much of an effort. I recall one of our earliest exchanges being about Bjork and promising to make him a mixed tape of my rarest material so he could bring it on tour. (I did in fact make such a collection) At the time he was one of my few people I knew who liked as many totally opposite genres as I did. I mean.it isn't every day you can talk about Black Metal, ambient electronic music, and classic Rock in the same breath. We have never lived in the same city but we have remained on and off again pen pals and would pick up wherever we left off  in person whenever Isis toured. Obviously every friendship is different from the next but Aaron and I have almost never spoken on the phone. Our mailed packages of music back and forth and yearly face time (with the occasional email sprinkled in) have been the blueprints for our friendship all along. The lovely thing about technology is without actually speaking to him I can keep up with him via what the label continues to release as well as his blog which is where I am able to see and hear the art he is producing.

What's maddening about someone like Turner is you don't just have an incredibly smart individual who is interesting as hell and well rounded... he has multiple talents. His label is a brand name, his band has grown to practically be a household name in the world of heavy music, and on top of all that, he is a remarkable artist who has designed a good bulk of the Hydra Head catalog. As far as friends go, he remains someone who is still a creative inspiration for me and his endless productivity is a constant source of awe.

Before we were ever formally introduced, Aaron was one of the few people who stayed behind to watch my old band (Dahlia Seed) play the final slot of a hardcore fest in MA back in the early to mid '90s. As you can imagine being the very last band of a multi- day fest isn't exactly the hot spot (more like the kiss of death) and by that point, the crowd had dwindled to just a handful of people . . . many of whom looked like watching one more band was about the last thing they wanted to do. Aaron not only watched us play that evening but even purchased a shirt which I am pretty certain was one of the only things we sold on that epic waste of a 6 hour drive to be there. There are a lot of reasons for me to be fond of Aaron, but his early support of me during one of our band's crappiest shows ever earns him a special place in my heart, ha!

During the middle of this decade I put Aaron to work on a collaboration piece for my solo record. (Ringfinger / Decimal) I sent him one of my songs and he in turn kindly added layers to it with both his guitar and voice. It's called "Waving Goodbye" and for me, is the ultimate celebration of the friendship we have built over the last 10 plus years. Some people have photos to cherish friends by, I am fortunate enough to have a record to show for it.

I should probably talk all about the technical mumbo jumbo in regards to Isis. There is plenty to be said about their gear, how they structure their songs, the meticulously crafted lyrics and art , how their songwriting has progressed over time, but ultimately I feel more like a big sister who is amazed and proud of all that Isis has accomplished. That probably isn't the coolest way to talk about such a gifted group of artists but my head is filled with memories of ridiculous hang outs at various venues up and down the East Coast, late night slumber parties when they crashed at my apartment (and no, not the dirty kind, more like folding merch and cursing cat hair), and the morning after group trek for coffee and breakfast. Somewhere over this period of time, they stopped being a band to me and started being a group of people I really looked forward to spending time with and catching up with.

Now that the band has officially retired, I am saddened because I know this will limit my chances of crossing paths with them in person but I suppose if there was a respectable parting gift, the band's catalog isn't such a bad thing to have them leave behind.


  1. is there any chance you can make all 3 hours a podcast? im a big fan of aaron's, and being able to keep a virtual mixtape of his favorite music would be cool as hell.

  2. Forgive me! I should have also mentioned that we podcast the radio show each week so that will too will be posted. It usually takes us a few weeks to get it up but yes - the 2 hour radio show will be available as a podcast too. Thanks for reminding me to tell people that!