As the guitarist of deathcore band Fit For an Autopsy, Will Putney knows a thing or two about how a band should sound. That’s because of his day job, which is at The Machine Shop. Chances are, if you’re listening to metal, there’s a good chance Putney might have produced it. The band’s sophomore album Hellbound, which was released earlier this week, is an evolution of their sound, and one of the better deathcore albums we’ve heard this year. Putney spoke about writing with other bands, his (lack of) touring plans, and bonding over metal with Ice T.
How’d you wind up dealing with Good Fight/eOne?
Me and Pat, my guitar player, we’ve known [Good Fight owner] Carl [Severson] now for a decade or more now from the New Jersey scene and stuff. Carl and Pat have been friends for a long time. I’ve worked with Carl on different records. We’ve never bothered Carl about our band or tried to ask him to put it out or anything because we figured we’re just some death metal band and Carl’s trying to run a business. We don’t particularly fit the mold for commercial success at the moment, so we just kinda did our own thing. Carl took a liking to our band at some point. We actually approached Carl because we wanted to talk to him about management. We were finally looking to pick up a manager and the conversation turned into Carl saying, ‘I want to be honest with you, I want to put your record out. How can we do this?’ So it was a nice surprise, because we hadn’t even considered that at as an option at the point we were a pretty small band. It happened pretty fast from there, so now it’s coming out Tuesday. It’s awesome.
Were you done with Black Market Activities or did you have to negotiate to leave it? How’d that work out?
Yeah, without getting into some of the details of it, our record sold a little and [BMA owner/Red Chord frontman] Guy [Kozowyk] had some business mishaps with distribution and this and that. He ran into some trouble handling the label and being one guy. He wasn’t able to get out of it and the stuff that we wanted to do would’ve been hard to do with Guy, although we love him and did the best he could for our band and he always had our back and stuff. He’s awesome, but we knew he couldn’t match what we were being offered. It became an easy phone call to be like, ‘Listen, this is happening, is it cool?’ And he was like, “Yeah,” because he didn’t want to hold us back either.
As a producer, what do you bring to your own band? Do you learn from the bands you work with and apply it to Fit for an Autopsy?
I think the reason why I do the band is because I learned a lot about what I don’t like in heavy music today from recording other bands. Everything just seems to follow trends at the moment. I have lots of respect for the bands I record because plenty of them are cool, but most of the time everyone’s kinda doing the same thing and it just gets a little frustrating hearing heavy music all year and not hearing anything you like. So, the band for me is an outlet to write music that I want to hear and it definitely helps focus the style of the band to the sort of slightly more unique version of what’s going on in the modern heavy scene. I think it helps us be a little unique and it definitely helps me hear metal songs I like, which is cool now because it’s getting thin out there.
Yeah, I mean, there’s more music than ever, but not as much truly original music.
I remember when I first got into heavy music, no band even sounded the same. I can remember shows that were these mixed bill New Jersey shows from 2000, 2001, where every band was awesome but they all sounded like completely different things and you don’t really see that anymore. We’re older guys, we’re not kids, and we just want to leave some sort of mark like that, to be our own thing. That’s sort of what the band is founded on.
So are you playing at all with the band live, or just not doing it now?
At the moment, I can’t be on tour. I’d love to, but the studio stuff is just so, I’m so overwhelmingly busy. It’s awesome. I have a good dream job doing music for a living. Writing songs with other bands and making records and working with bands that I want to work with. It’s a bummer because I love the band and I love being on tour. The tours that I’ve done have been great. It would be very damaging for me in the present to leave the studio for half a year. I’m fortunate to have a little heat on me as far as being a record producer, and to blow that now to go play some shows with my friends, although I’d love to do it, I’d definitely look back on it, like, it might’ve been a bad decision for my life.
Did you write the album in the studio or just play it live?
Yeah, I’m just comfortable in the studio, I’ll usually start songs in the studio. I’ll write them in the computer and then I’ll present them to the band and we’ll flesh stuff out and jam on stuff. The way we did the record sort of worked like that. I just brought the drummer in first with all the stuff I have programmed and just lock him in a room to just jam with the parts, just write his drum parts, and the same thing with vocals. Just kinda like, ‘Okay, here’s this stuff. What do you want to do?’ Just approach everything one instrument at a time. Because I have the studio, I have the luxury of being able to have time and having these things set up, so it was really easy to focus on certain things and spend lots of time on them and nail them. I think it’s nice when you can spend time on a record and see all the details through.
Are there songs that you’ve started to write for other bands and you’ve been like, “You know what? This is a Fit song, I’m not giving it to them.”
Not really, it’s usually the opposite. Everybody usually gets the leftovers, no offense to everyone I write with. I mean, the stuff that I write hasn’t really been fully aligned with Fit stuff, you know. Like I said before, this is the stuff I kind of wish bands did. Fit is an outlet to get to write this kind of music, because I don’t really write this style of heavy music on a daily basis. But it’d be awesome. If there’s a band out there that wants to sound like Fit for an Autopsy, hit me up. [laughs]
You definitely have a lot of guest appearances on this album. Did you write it with those people in mind to cameo or did it just kind of come up because you’re a producer?
Yeah, they usually just happen organically, hanging out with dudes, you know, everyone who’s on the record is a friend of the band or somebody I’ve worked with. I don’t think this time specifically we wrote anything with anyone in mind it was just like, ‘Hey! We love him, he should do something on our record. Let’s find a part for him.’ Then we’d just jam on songs and be like, ‘Oh, this is perfect for this guy.’ So it just happened sort of like, ‘Hey, dude, you want to sing this part? We think you’d sound good here.’ It was really easy to just get everybody on board for.
Are you going to be able to back that stuff up live?
Sure. I don’t know if you’ve heard Nate Johnson, but he’s an alright singer. [laughs] So, I think he can hold his own with any of the dudes on this for sure.
As a producer, what’s next for you? Body Count is coming up. Anything else?
Yeah, I’ve got Body Count coming up. Structures will be in the studio this month. Upon a Burning Body. I’m going to Australia to do the next Amity Affliction and Acacia Strain full length next year.
Did you do the last Amity Affliction album in Australia?
No, I actually only mixed the last Amity, and I did that in a bedroom on headphones while I was doing another record. It actually got some press. I mixed the number one record in a bedroom on headphones. I don’t think that’s ever happened before. I was out in LA doing Winds of Plague and Amity hit me up. They weren’t happy with their mixes and they were on some crazy timeline and they were looking for someone to bail out the record and I was like, ‘Yeah, I’d love to do it, but I don’t know how the hell I’m gonna do it. I’m not at my studio, I don’t have my mix gear.’ But they really wanted to make it happen so they flew out my computer and my rig, all my analog stuff. I would just record Winds of Plague during the day and I sat in a bedroom all night on a pair of headphones and just mixed the record. I hadn’t even heard it on speakers until I got home back in Jersey. It was pretty scary, but I had a good pair of headphones, Sennheiser HD 600 headphones, that saved my ass on that.
When you met with Ice T, did he talk about metal?
Oh, yeah. He showed me old videos of him singing on Six Feet Under records and telling me stories about being on tour with Napalm Death and stuff. That dude loves metal, you would be surprised. He’s not just a made-for-TV cop. He’s a metalhead at heart.