Posted: April 13th, 2009
"Most bands will say that their current work is their best work. We are no exception."
Interview by Doompaul | Photo by Dawursk
ISIS can’t really be categorized as just a band anymore. They’re the yardstick against which a lot of up and coming bands are put to. Most don’t even come close—heavy as hell, and thoughtful at the same time. ISIS breaks down walls with intelligence as well as with a hammer. They are: Aaron Turner: vocals, guitars; Mike Gallagher: guitars; Jeff Caxide: bass; Aaron Harris: drums; Bryant Clifford Meyer: electronics. I had the opportunity to talk with Aaron before the release of their new CD, In the Absence of Truth.
Can you tell us about The Absence of Truth? A lot of ISIS records seem to have a central concept going on. What would you say the theme is for the new record?
Aaron: It’s kind of hard to sum up. It can take a really long time to gain perspective on what we’ve done with a record. Often what we set out to do and where we end up is quite different than where we started out. The process of composition goes through a lot of stages. A song never stays the same both in the way that we play it, or in my perceptions of it. At this point it is still a very new thing and there are a lot of the songs that we are still learning how to play for a live environment. I don’t think I have a total grasp on what we’ve done, myself. I do know that it is a bit more focused than Panopticon was. When we wrote that we had just moved to LA, and we were still in the process of moving when that record was started. With this record, we were able to focus more on the record itself. Something else that changed from the last record to this one is that we were able to quit working day jobs and play music full time. As a result, we’re able to maintain a more consistent vibe throughout the process of creating the record. We were able to create more focused and complex compositions. We are able to practice five days a week instead of two days a week. We are able to practice during the day instead of coming in after a long day feeling burned out and passionless. This record is the best representation of who we are at this point. Most bands will say that their current work is their best work. We are no exception.
You have so much on your plate. ISIS, Hydrahead, side projects.
Aaron: I’m always late on everything. I just keep pushing stuff back because I’m never satisfied with anything. I always know that I have more on my plate than I can handle. It’s not always the best practice, but I always have a hard time releasing anything until I am satisfied with it. I am never really happy with anything, but if I can get to the point where it is, at least, acceptable—and it can take me a long time to get there—that’s when I decide to let something go. I’m really driven that way. I like making music and I like making art and staying as active as I can with both of those pursuits. It’s never a chore or something I feel obligated to do. It’s something I want to do and I think that this is a very important factor in doing all of these things.
Could you tell us a little about the Clearing The Eye DVD?
Aaron: We’ve been talking about doing a DVD for ages, and we never really knew what to do or we felt that we didn’t have enough material to put out something worthwhile. Finally, in the past two years, some older material has found its way to us and there have been recent performances that were professionally done. So we finally felt like we had a deep enough well to pull from. We didn’t want to put out a DVD just for the sake of putting one out. A lot of bands seem content with putting one crappy show and one extra and charging people $25.00 for it. We just didn’t want to do that. Sometimes the live versions of songs are so different from the recorded versions that we felt they needed to be preserved.
I hear a lot of people try and describe ISIS. None of it really seems to fit, or is vague. How do you describe the music?
Aaron: That’s a tough question. I never really know how to answer that one. There are obvious relations to metal, hardcore, and indie rock. We are all into so many different things. By that factor alone, our music will reflect that. I don’t believe what we do is schizophrenic or genre-hopping, but at the same time I do think it incorporates lots of different ideas. For that reason, it’s hard to describe. If I had to describe it to someone who had never heard it, I would just say psychedelic metal.
Download ISIS songs or albums from the iTunes store here or check their myspace for upcoming shows.