Fans of independent metal, can we drop our heads for a moment of silence before continuing to rock: Hydra Head Records will soon be no more.
The news was announced by founder Aaron Turner on the label’s blog under the unsubtle headline, “The Imminent Demise of Hyrda Head Records.” In the nearly 20 years the label has been in operation, it has released music by such notable metal acts as Sunn O))), Cave In, Harvey Milk, Xasthur, Jesu, Pelican, Lustmord, and Boris.
“The decision to pull the plug has not been an easy one, and in some ways is not a choice at all,” Turner writes in the post. “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 label operators, an unwillingness to compromise our aesthetic standards, a tendency towards releasing challenging (i.e. unmarketable) artists, and the decline of the music industry in general, are amongst the chief reasons for our inability to continue.”
Turner does say that the label, which is currently based in Los Angeles, will continue to operate “as we have been” until December. At that point the label will cut off new releases and focus solely on maintaining its back catalog.
“[I]n all honesty we are in need of financial assistance from anyone and everyone who’s willing to throw us a rope,” Turner continued. “Though it’s 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.”
Turner started Hydra Head in New Mexico in 1993 while he was still in high school, and the label also has been based in Boston. During much of the time he was running the label, Turner also was guitarist and vocalist for the metal band Isis.
Hydra Head Records is distributed by Redeye Distribution, an independent distribution company that also worked with other notable indie labels including Yep Roc, Kill Rock Stars, Barsuk records, Warp Records, Luaka Bop Records, and Daptone Records.Turner ended his statement with this message to fans:
“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 you 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…”