Interview with vocalist Aaron Turner | By Caleb R. Newton
Finland’s Split Cranium are like a musical organism. They’ve come together over the course of several years, and now, with their new record I’m the Devil and I’m OK, that organism occupying the recesses of the band members’ minds has found a place to call home—for now, at least.
The album—released in May via Ipecac Recordings—is the work of an array of musicians from literally across the globe. Aaron Turner, who has performed in bands like Isis and Old Man Gloom, joined together with Jussi Lehtisalo of Circle to form the core of the project. Faith Coloccia of Mamiffer contributed too, as well as other friends and collaborators of those involved like Nate Newton of Converge and Tomi Leppänen, also of Circle.
Turner describes the situation as having aligned perfectly to facilitate a remarkably smooth creation of the new Split Cranium record—which is striking, considering Turner quips that no more than two of the contributors were ever in the same room at the same time during its creation.
The spark that set off I’m the Devil and I’m OK was Lehtisalo coming to spend some time with Turner’s family a couple of years ago. The kindling, however, was long in place in the form of the musical and personal bonds shared by Turner and Lehtisalo. As Turner puts it, “I think the real motivation is that Jussi and I are great friends. We have a lot of musical common ground, and we both have a relentless compulsion to create.”
That compulsion to create extends to the other individuals involved in the project as well. Turner describes the album writing process as having been “basically instigated under the premise that we all trusted each other to do what we do and were expecting good results based off just what we know about each other musically and personally.”
The natural flow with which the album emerged allowed for it to have a certain urgency that is reflected in Turner’s lyrical approach. He describes his steps, offering his take on musical craftsmanship in the process, as follows: “I tried to be as impulsive as I could, with very little editing. I wanted it to feel urgent as a parallel to how the music sounded to me. I’ve come to feel that in just about every form of creative expression that I partake in, whether it’s writing guitar parts or lyrics or doing artwork, that the more I trust my own intuition and the less I try to control what comes out, the more potent the results are.”
“Discovering the unexpected and letting the music move through you, acting like a conduit for the music, is a really gratifying way to create and ultimately part of the reason for doing it,” he adds.
Every musician involved in Split Cranium pulled their own weight, and in the end, the process left them with an album that turned out better than they expected, Turner says.
The next step in the process is for it to be listened to. Turner describes that point of the progression by saying that the album “is supposed to grab people in a very visceral way and keep them in this state of high energy.” To that end, pick up I’m the Devil and I’m OK from Ipecac Recordings today and become a conduit for that energy.