Interview with Aaron Turner of Isis: Radiating Energy

I recall that when In The Absence Of Truth came out there was the, you know, big ‘touring with Tool’ type news. In hindsight, do you feel like that opportunity opened you up to a different audience and is there anything on that level planned for this record?

That wasn’t a planned thing on our part, but the opportunity came out around the time of the release of the record which worked out well for us. I do think it opened up certain doors for us. We’d never had the opportunity to play for such large audiences before. I think that of any band that size, Tool is probably one of the only ones that would’ve had an audience that would have been even semi-receptive to what we were doing. So I think that it certainly was a very good thing for us to have done, and I think it was a very different kind of experience on a lot of levels. It certainly brought us into contact with a lot of people who would not have heard us otherwise.

Are you going to be touring with anyone after this headlining tour, do you have any idea of what you’re going to be doing next? Are you going to Europe?

The basic plan as of now is to do the U.S. tour, go to Europe to do festivals over the summer. The festivals are always good because, again, it’s a quite diverse array of people that attend and we get to play, at least, in proximity to some bands that we would never otherwise be able to. So that helps in the same regard as touring with Tool did. Beyond that there aren’t any definitive plans, we’re sort of doing it piece-by-piece. If an opportunity such as the Tool tour came up again, and we felt that it was a band that we felt we had some musical affinity with and felt like it was a good opportunity we would certainly take it. But we’re not sort of gunning or counting on that kind of thing happening.

Yeah, I think that would be very hopeful. Not to say that you wouldn’t deserve it, but I can’t think of any other arena-size band that would jive so well.

Yeah, I can’t either.

So did that tour feel sort of like a weird sort of like, ‘this is a perfect symbiosis’ type of thing?

Yes and no. None of us had ever imagined that we would do anything like that ten or eleven years ago when the band started, or even 4 or 5 years ago. To play in that kind of setting felt, to some degree, kind of natural but in another way it was like, well if we were content with just making music for ourselves, we would have never released it into the public forum in any way, shape or form. The intent, to some degree, has always been to try and reach people through the music and that was a very different way to go about doing that.

I do feel like it was a good thing to have done, I feel like it was a great experience for the band, but I can’t think of another band where it would work as well as that did. I don’t want to just do arena tours for the sake of playing to huge audiences. If we do it again I want it to be with a band who we have at least some parallel interest with and whose audience would be, at least, not completely hostile towards us. (laughs)

Sure it would be a hard sell with like AC/DC for instance.

Yeah, yeah, definitely.

But I remember seeing you here in Jersey on that tour and it was very interesting, because a few years before I had seen you at the Avalon in New York, which is a much smaller venue. It was a much different experience because Isis sounds very large and to hear it in that size room was certainly different, almost fitting. In the same way I don’t know how that kind of experience would reoccur, or how the stars would align that way again.

I agree to some extent that playing in rooms that size is sort of fitting considering the figurative size of the music, but at the same time I also like the small club setting because, again, the music is also big in that sort of setting. It’s like people can’t escape it. It’s like the sound takes over the room in a way that it might not in a large space. So both things have their aesthetic benefits, I suppose.