Hydra Head Records – Vacation Vinyl Exclusives

Posted: December 9, 2010 by Juan D. in Record Nerds
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Since the dawn of man…errr…or rather the early days of the hardcore and punk labels, there have always been variants and different colors for releases. Some hardcore (pun very intended) fans pursue to obtain all the different colors and variants of their favorite bands’ releases. Others balk at the thought of having a bunch of different colors and pressings of essentially the same release. But that’s an argument and discussion for another post. Maybe.

Hydra Head Records are no stranger to the variant game. Ever since the label’s humble beginnings in 1993 by Aaron Turner (ISIS and a plethora of other groups) as a distro and then a full-fledged label in 1995 when Turner moved to Boston and released the Vent 7”, they have made their releases available in different colors and pressings. So it makes sense that when the Hydra Head head honchos Turner and Mark Thompson with Pete Majors opened a record store, Vacation Vinyl,  in 2009 in Los Angeles, CA, they would have some exclusives available only there.

In the June 2009 issue of Decibel magazine, there was a feature piece on the the store and how it came to be:

“Thompson and Turner started Vacation – the name is derived from the classic 1983 Chevy Chase flick – with David Ritchie and David Pifer, who own a local comic book shop called Secret Headquarters. ‘We made friends with them mostly because Aaron spend about 200 dollars a week on comics,’ Thompson laughs. ‘But those dudes run a really awesome, unique comic book store that looks like a cigar shop. They were talking  about wanting  to open another retail location for something, and we’d always been talking about opening a store, so one thing led to another.’ “

So the Vacation exclusives of Hydra Head releases all started with ISISWavering Radiant 2xLP. Granted, the album was not technically released by HHR. The album was released in the U.S. by Ipecac Records while the European pressing was handled by Conspiracy. On a bunch of different colors of course. For the band’s tour in support of the album, they pressed 100 on clear vinyl and it was to be only available on tour and a portion of the copies via Vacation Vinyl. So pretty much you’d have to luck out and get to the shows early enough to score a copy or walk in to Vacation to get one.

By sheer luck I was able to make use of my “connections” and get a copy from the Vacation store, since the tour was not making any stops anywhere near me in FloriDUH! The clear copies also included a blue slipmat that nicely matches the artwork. Hurrah!

This must’ve been a big hit as Hydra Head continued to have more Vacation Vinyl exclusives with the new release (after a three-year hiatus) from Cave In, the Planets of Old 12”. Once again 100 copies were pressed but this time on All-Natural Pistachio Ice Cream.

The next exclusive was a repressing of (The) Melvins (A) Senile Animal box set. Limited to 35 copies, it was on black vinyl but the box was screenprinted on Vacation Orange instead of blue as when originally pressed/printed. This was also done to coincide with Record Store Day 2010. (The box set was given a write-up back in September. Check that out here).

Yes. I still have not opened it. No need to since I already know what’s in it. As I previously said, I’m a completist asshole.

In yet another ISIS-related release, with the split 12″ with The Melvins, Vacation had an exclusive for it. Copies of the split were available only at the physical store before anywhere else and the first 30 copies were signed by both bands and as a bonus, a one-of-a-kind hand-drawn Wavering Radiant LP by Aaron Turner was included.

By now, Hydra Head and Vacation had hit their stride with releasing exclusives for the store of all vinyl so far. They’ve been available at the store itself and also online (albeit in very, very limited quantities) via Vacation’s webstore for those who can’t make their way to L.A.

Torche Songs For Singles LP . Teal out of 100 pressed. A full write-up was done for this here. (Borrowed Nick’s pic for this)



Jesu Heart Ache and Dethroned 2xLP – Clear out of 100.


Cave In Anomalies Vol. 1 – White out of 100. This particular album may cause some stir. Initially, Hydra Head stated that this release was out of 1,000 and all on black vinyl. No ifs and buts about it. Then the curveball was thrown with the white exclusive for Vacation. Ha!


Daughters S/T LP – Diarrheainbow out of 100. This also included the “The First Supper” b/w “Boner X-Ray” (Original Version) 7” which is limited to 500 copies. 200 were included in the first 200 pre-orders on Hydra Head’s online store and the remaining 300 were sent out to record stores.


Harvey Milk S/T 2xLP – Black Cherry out of 100. This is the repressing which was remastered. The original version was only available on cassette and from what we have heard it did not sound not-so good. So the album was mastered and released on vinyl.

There are other colors/variants for all of these releases but these particular ones are of course exclusive to Vacation Vinyl. From time to time you can find their exclusives available on their webstore. That’s of course if the Los Angelinos have not cleaned them out.

I recently had the great chance to have a conversation with Aaron Turner about a few of the bands he is and has been involved with including Greymachine and Mamiffer. I took the opportunity to ask him the reasons for releasing variants and different colors of Hydra Head releases. This is what he shared with me:

“I initially decided to start making color variants for many HHR vinyl releases because this was something I was drawn to in the output of other labels and bands. I was an avid collector long before starting the label. If I loved a particular record I often sought out all the color variants I could for that particular release. There was no philosophical intent behind this – just the love of music coupled with the interest in records as artifacts and the collecting thereof. I felt like if a band and label were putting out really worthwhile releases they deserved the extra cash I’d shell out for multiple color copies. Creating special colors for vinyl releases increases their desirability over the comparably sterile CD format. In addition, the search for rare records is a thrill for me personally, and I think it creates a heightened sense of appreciation for others who go through a similar hunting process to obtain the record.”
During our discussion, he also shared Hydra Head’s reason and drive to have exclusives for Vacation Vinyl:
“As far as making special colors available only through Vacation, we are merely trying to help out a record store that we are directly tied to and emphasize the importance of physical record stores as a vital part of our musical community. It would be a sad day indeed if actual record stores were to disappear so anything we can do to stave this off is worth doing. Not only that but we also feel that making an effort in our local community is important. If we can some sort of direct contact with the people around us that is rewarding for us and I believe in some way for them as well. It’s nice to see and when possible to get to know the people that are supporting us and our artists and by drawing some of them to the store we can accomplish that goal. The internet is an isolating mechanism in some ways, and is causing a decay in people’s ability to appreciate music. What drew me and many people I know to a life in music to begin with was the idea of being part of an actual community, not just a bunch of people behind computers in their bedrooms stealing music and shit talking the very same music they are stealing. By being active participants in a local record store with some further facilitation from our label I believe we are helping in a small way to create a more cohesive sense of musical community.”
Needless to say, fanboy Juan was (and still is!) very stoked to have had this exchange with A. Turner. Being a fan of all things ISIS and then trickling down to all his other bands, the fact that Aaron was willing to share his thoughts for the TSPV blog was an exciting opportunity. An opportunity and exchange that increases the already-great amount of respect I have for the man as a musician and artist. So, thank you Mr. Turner.
And now this is the end of the post. No witty or clever ending. Just the end.
“Having trouble with closing statements since 1995”
  1. Nick_J says:

    I am actually super bummed I didn’t get that Cave In record on white. White is my favorite vinyl color. I’m not buying 2 though.

  2. Eressea says:

    Awesome! I’m glad you guys share your passion for the music and community. I like how you got to talk to Aaron Turner since I am a huge Isis fan as well.
    Keep up the great posts 🙂

  3. matt nielson says:

    I was actually very lucky that morning in July to get one of the signed Isis / Melvins split. Hydra Head and Vacation are simply the best!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s