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 ISIS’ Wavering 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: