WILL PUTNEY - END, FIT FOR AN AUTOPSY, MUSIC PRODUCER
"I feel like as long as I can keep evolving my writing or producing and still grow as an artist, I'm very interested in seeing how far that goes and what I'll be capable of doing." Will Putney, music producer, guitarist END
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ABOUT WILL PUTNEY:
Will Putney is a sonic force in the music industry. Whether writing music and playing in END or Fit For An Autopsy, or being behind the soundboard to produce albums for Body Count or Thy Art is Murder, Will is constantly honing his sound and his craft. Listen to his story and be inspired to start your own musical journey. Plus,
Will Putney gives all the details on the new album from END - Splinters From An Ever-Changing Face. The metalcore supergroup formed with Will Putney from Fit For An Autopsy on guitars, Brendan Murphy from Counterparts on vocals, Gregory Thomas from Shai Hulud on guitars, Jay Pepito from Reign Supreme, and Billy Rymer from Dillinger Escape Plan on drums. The new album drops on June 5th, 2020.
Jeff: Will, thank you so much for joining me on the show today. And I just want to kind of start off, while we're recording this a little bit before this is actually about to premiere, we're recording this still in the midst of the world that we're in with this terrible pandemic. And I just want to ask, how are you doing?
Will Putney: I'm okay. Thanks for having me on here could be worse. I was quarantined for a bit, and now I've had some records reschedule. So I'm looking at about two months of downtime for me, which is honestly not the end of the world. It's kind of a nice break. I've been pretty full on making records lately. In a weird way, almost looking forward to a forced break here. But I'm keeping myself busy and writing some music and stuff. So yeah, it could be worse. I'm lucky that I'm able to still be productive. And I'm not reliant on going anywhere to go to work. Could be worse. Could be worse for me.
Jeff: Well, that's good. That's good. And you're so busy all the fricking time anyways. And I want to touch on all of that. And I want to start on the musician side of who you are for my listeners out there who obviously know you are part of Fit for an Autopsy. Before we get into what's about to happen with your new record, I want to talk about you specifically with this band and even before that. I'm always curious with musicians as to what is the moment in your life where you wanted to, not only pick up the instrument, but pursue it as a career. Did you start playing guitar as a really young kid or was it later in life?
Will Putney: I think I was probably about 13 years old, 13 or 14 when I got my first guitar.
Jeff: Acoustic or electric?
Will Putney: I was playing an electric guitar. There was an acoustic guitar around my house that I had, I guess, shown some interest in. And I played piano for a little bit. I played saxophone in school for a little. I wasn't writing music for anything. They were just things you did, you know?
Will Putney: But I was always interested in music. And I started to get into more guitar-heavy music, rock music and stuff like that, probably around that age, and then got interested in playing a guitar. So, yeah, that was about the time I started to learn stuff. And I think by about the age of 15, I was in my first band just with some friends where I grew up, trying to play heavy metal and hardcore stuff at a pretty young age, actually.
Jeff: Always curious about those first bands. What was the name of that band?
Will Putney: That band's called Struck Down.
Jeff: Struck Down. Ooh. Were you guys metal or rock or ...
Will Putney: Think of Poison the Well, but super bad. That's probably where it landed. Yeah.
Jeff: That's awesome. So at that point you're playing guitar in bands. Was that the same time that you decided, "I kind of want to pursue this. I want to see if I can make a career out of this," or did that come later?
Will Putney: No, I think that would have come way later. I just played in bands for fun. All through school and up into college, I was involved doing music stuff, playing in different bands, and I booked a lot of shows in the area. And I tried to run a record label at some point. It didn't go so great. But I was always interested in working in music, but I don't think I had ever saw this a career. It was more of a passion thing. And I was focused on going to school for something completely different. It wasn't until towards the very end of me being in college where I had an opportunity to work at a recording studio as like a internships, assistant-style thing that I really saw what I could do as a career in music and that's when I kind of jumped into that.
Jeff: Was that the same time that Fit for an Autopsy was starting?
Will Putney: No, I had already been working as an assistant at Machine's recording studio for maybe about a year or so before Fit ever really started.
Jeff: And can you talk a little bit about the beginnings of that? Because you guys, as a band, have become so integral in metal now, but it's always curious to me when you're starting out and what that vision was like. Was it still the idea of like, "Ah, we're just going to get together and play some music"? Or was this the project that was like, "We're going to try to make something out of this"?
Will Putney: Well, funny enough, the band, they didn't even start as a metal band. And it wasn't called that with the original guys. We were playing in, Pat, who is the other original guitar player from Fit, and I were playing in a different hardcore band that had recently broken up. And we were like, "Let's just try a new band. Let's write some rifts, have fun." And I brought in a drummer who was from a metal band from the area, this guy Brian who was the original Fit drummer, and we were just writing hardcore songs for fun and didn't even think we were ever going to be a metal band or anything. We didn't have a band name or anything, but we were just kicking around the idea of this new band.
Will Putney: And then we cross paths with Nate, who is the original singer, at a show. And we were a big fan of his stuff from Deadwater Drowning and Through the Eyes of the Dead. At that time, he didn't have a band, and he had expressed interest in wanting to do a band again. And we just loved that guy's vocals. So we were like, "Hey, what if we just kind of switched gears here and wrote some stuff that would make sense to do with Nate and sent him some stuff, see if he would be interested in doing a band with us?" So the real beginning of Fit for an Autopsy was us just changing what we were doing from a hardcore band to a more extreme metal band to try to coordinate Johnson into doing a band with us.
Will Putney: We just recorded a couple songs at the studio, super rough. Sent them over to him. He liked them. He knew a bass player, this guy Seth who was in Deadwater Drowning and he was in The Acacia Strain for a bit. And he's like, "Yeah, I would like to do this band with him. If you guys are down, we could all be a band together." So we, the five of us just basically started Fit like that. They came down and we finished up this little demo thing, put it out on the internet just for free. And that was the actual origin of the band. We had that demo done before we had even played a show or done anything. That was sort of where it all began.
Jeff: That's so cool. And you were saying when you even were switching gears, you didn't even have a name. Where did the name come from?
Will Putney: Where did the name come from? Oh, I know. So we were, at some point, trying to work with some other guys who were in a band called Fit for an Autopsy. And we wound up not doing that band with them. We wound up doing it with what the original lineup of Fit actually was. But that band didn't exist anymore, and I think we just took the name. They were like, "You know what? That works. Let's just go with that." Yeah. It was literally a name from another band more or less in the beginning. I don't remember how it worked out, but I think we just started to ... I'm sure we asked them if it was cool because they weren't a band anymore. And it was so off the radar. Yeah. I think we just actually took name.
Jeff: Oh, that's so awesome. And I mean, your last record, the Sea of Tragic Beasts, one of my favorites, you guys have evolved within the band since those early demos to Sea of Tragic Beasts. The evolution has just become better and better and better. And it is some of the best riff metal, I think, out there today. And I'm always curious about how bands work internally. What is the writing process with Fit for an Autopsy?
Will Putney: A lot of it just kind of comes out from me working on stuff at the studio. I don't tour full time with the band anymore. I haven't for a long time. And they're out a lot. They tour a lot throughout the year. So usually, I'm kind of building stuff while I'm at home when they're on tour. And then we get together on it. But I think a lot of it just starts with me putting these songs together and then bringing my guys in.
Jeff: That's so cool. So a lot of the magic actually happens in the studio when everybody gets together then.
Will Putney: Yeah, I think the big turning point is when I get my drummer here. A lot of decisions and a lot of the feel and energy of the songs I think takes a good turn once we're out of the computer and all these program drums are gone and I get to jam with him and work out parts. That's when I feel like the songs really come together.
Jeff: That's so cool. And we're really excited because as this episode, as we're recording this right now, but as this episode drops tomorrow June 5th, 2020, your brand new record comes out. Can we talk about the birth of this new record?
Will Putney: Sure. Well, END started a few years ago with some of my friends as an outlet to play the style music that I wasn't really doing with Fit and some of my other guys weren't doing what their respective projects. And yeah, we kind of just got together for fun to make this EP. We all liked that style of music and didn't really have a cool outlet for it. So it was just more of a passion project kind of thing. And it seems like people seem to dig it. We played some shows and it went pretty good. And we kind of realized like, "Hey, we're doing a full-length record. We should maybe take it more seriously, spend some more time on it, give it a proper go, try to play more shows. Do the whole thing, really be more of a band and be a little less part time." And yeah, we just put a lot of work in to this new one, and I definitely think it's the best stuff we've done. I'm very happy with it. And I'm really excited for everybody to hear it.
Jeff: What's the name of the record?
Will Putney: The name of the record, Splinters From An Ever-Changing Face.
Jeff: Ooh. Where'd that come from?
Will Putney: It's pulled from some of the lyrics, and it's just a cool theme that carries it through the record. It's pretty loosely based off of this sort of psychotic break in a person and all the emotions and feelings that come along with that. So there's just this uncomfortable sort of vibe of this person trying to find themselves and change the way they feel throughout the record. And it was just a title that fit well with the art. And I think it's like a cool way to put it out there in sort of a weird way. But yeah, it's just uncomfortable, and when you see it with the art and when you kind of get a feel for what the whole record is about, I think it was a cool term to kind of coin an album title.
Jeff: Oh, that's awesome. And I mean, I know you guys really are, you specifically are always very smart about the art that you put out with all the records that you do. Is there an artist involved with this album?
Will Putney: Yeah, we went back to Adam Burke. He's a fantastic oil painter, and he did the first END EP. And I just really like working with him. I know when I give him an idea that I'm going to get back what I want. He's never missed it at all for me. So we had talked about maybe trying some other stuff because, in the recent years, a lot of people, it seems, have been using Adam. And I was like, "Oh, we should try to find our own kind of lane now that more people are going to him." I didn't want a cover to look similar to anybody else's. But after talking with a few people, I was like, "I just feel more comfortable knowing I'm going to get what I want from Adam." And he nailed it. I mean, it doesn't look like anybody's cover and it's just great. I'm really happy with the whole layout.
Jeff: That's awesome. That's so cool. So now that this project has come from, just like you said, kind of wanting to play some tunes that maybe didn't fit for Autopsy and that kind of thing to now a full-length record that you're all excited about. Is there plans for more? Is it music videos maybe? Or once the world goes back together tours or whatever?
Will Putney: Yeah. I mean, we've put two music videos out. We definitely have more content in the pipeline. I'm not exactly sure when this shows up, but there will be, if this is airing, today's June 4th, in theory, there's another video out there right now to check out that we would have just put out. And yeah, we have more stuff. We have more stuff planned. Obviously, we were trying to tour around the release of the record. Everything was postponed, but we're still put the record out. It felt like we were sitting on it for long enough.
Will Putney: But towards the end of the year, if things open back up, we'll be back on tour in November with Misery Signals. And we're hopefully going to add some, we did have more dates planned that are canceled that we're hoping we could sort of reschedule later in the year, beginning of next year just to get out there a little more. I think the band wants to make a conscious effort to play more shows. I think there are a lot of places we haven't been and people who like the band, who have been supporting the band deserve a chance to get to see us. So we're going to try to get to as many places as we can, schedule permitting, as soon as things open back up out there,
Jeff: That's awesome. That's really great to hear. And I'm so excited. I'm so excited for new music. It's always exciting when you hear someone like yourself being excited about what you just created too. That gets me excited as a fan, so that's awesome.
Jeff: The other side of your career is behind the board. And you kind of mentioned earlier, you fell into this. So this was never something that you looked as like this is the career path I want to go into, right?
Will Putney: No, not at all. I didn't even know it was a career. I mean, I knew it was a career, but I had never really thought it was something I could do professionally for a living forever. It wasn't until I started to work in a real studio and see the potential of that being something I could do and really fall in love with it that I realized like, "Oh wow, this is what I want now." It's just one of those things you don't really know what goes on or how records are really made unless you're a part of it, unless you could see it firsthand. And it was not at all what I had expected and I really actually enjoyed it. So yeah, just luck of the draw I found what I wanted to do.
Jeff: That's awesome. And you have done so many amazing albums. And one of the things that I love about hearing that you had a hand in any of these different bands is that you work, I mean, predominantly in heavy music, in metal, but when you touch it it sounds intrinsic to the band you're dealing with. And I think that is a testament to the stamp of approval that you put on something that you're putting out. Did you start out doing that? Because a lot of metal can unfortunately sound the same. And I think that you really strive to make it sound unique and different depending on the bands that you're dealing with.
Will Putney: I feel like initially I probably tried to. I don't know how good I was at designing unique sounding productions because I just barely knew what I was doing in the beginning. But it was definitely a mentality that was instilled in me from working with Machine and watching how out of the box he went with certain things to sort of create unique sounding productions as a way to have things stand out. I've always tried to do that for better or worse. And I think over the years, hopefully I've been able to hone it into something that's, translates to the listeners in a cool way. But yeah, for me, it's a really important part about making the records. And I don't really have much of an interest in just doing one sound or one style of production over and over again forever. It takes a lot of fun out of the process.
Jeff: Yeah. And how much, I'm very curious on this, working with all different types of heavy music and all different types of bands at the outset, how much pre-production do you do? Do you work with the band for a little bit before ever hitting the record button and getting sounds, getting kind of like a feel for what that session's going to be like?
Will Putney: Yeah. I mean, pre-production is a super important part of the process. I think every record, we spend a really good amount of time before we record anything for real in the pre-production process. Sometimes it's like half the record. And I try to work with bands on demos as much as I can ahead of time and stuff. But even when they're at the studio, I mean, we definitely spend a huge chunk of time fine tuning songs, working out stuff, cutting fat, just all the things of going into making a good record. Yeah. Pre-production is the key process of that for me.
Jeff: That's so cool. And one of the bands, actually, one of our connections to each other is you worked on Bloodlust for Body Count. And what an incredible, unique band in music in general, not just heavy music, but just in general. And can you talk a little bit about working with that band because, as such a fan of them and such a unique sound, I think having your stamp on it even heightened that to greater levels.
Will Putney: Yeah. I mean, they're a band that I always just thought was just such a extreme band that pushed the limits, and the way they were in people's spaces so early in their career. And I just had a lot of respect for what they did and wanted to try to preserve that. And make sure that the band brings the entertainment value that they're known for and also the kind of socially aware messages translate. They do two really drastic things where they put important social messages in your face, but then also do wildly, almost comical entertaining stuff too at the same time. So it's hard to find that kind of balance. And going into the songs, I try to tailor songs to have moments where we can let those kinds of things shine, I think is really important.
Will Putney: And yeah, they're just great to work with. Now we've done a few records together, and we have this really good working relationship. They do put a lot of faith in me to steer the ship on what's, I sort of balance what they do with what kind of works in modern times, because this is a band that's been around for a long time and has a lot going on in all their respective lives and careers and doesn't necessarily always know what the new hot thing is or anything like that. So it's cool to come in with fresh ears as a fan of bands like that sort of and stay outside of their box and throw new ideas at them that they normally wouldn't think of. And yeah, it's just great. We have a really good working relationship. I really do enjoy working with those guys.
Jeff: That's awesome. When Vincent from Body Count was actually on this very show, he was talking about how incredible it was to work with someone like you. Because for so long Body Count never even had a you to deal with, never had a producer, never had someone who had an outside ear and outside eyes on the project to kind of help shape that project. And I think that's really cool. Was that easier for you to do throughout your career as a producer because you're a musician and you kind of can speak the language?
Will Putney: I think having a musical mindset definitely is important. I don't think it would work for me as well if I couldn't translate my ideas into an actual piece of music to present or show people. It would be way more difficult. I would feel extremely constricted in that sense. I'm not saying it's impossible, but I feel like being able to put a song together or an idea instead of just trying to mouth out what I think I want to hear, it definitely helps. It definitely brings it into the real world in the right way.
Jeff: That's so cool. So I got to know, then, when you're working on your own music and you're wearing the hat of being the musician and the writer and now the producer, is it harder to compartmentalize all of that? Or is it easier because you're kind of the boss and the employee kind of thing?
Will Putney: For my stuff, I feel like I kind of just do what I want. I guess maybe earlier I would have felt more pressure because I thought I would have been judged by my work a little harsher because I was wearing all the hats. But the past few years of anything I've written and produced and put out, it's been really easy and relaxed, because I'm just kind of doing what I want. I'm glad that people like what I want to do. So I think it's given me enough confidence to know that I'm just going to get the things I want out of my system, and I'm not really care what other people think per se. And just kind of trust in my instincts and do what I feel is cool.
Jeff: That's cool. And that kind of also leads me into this question of like I know for any producer, but you specifically as well, a lot of times you're working on multiple projects of multiple bands, maybe your own, maybe other people's, is that hard to kind of reset your brain, especially when you're trying to get unique band-sounding sounds out of whoever you're dealing with?
Will Putney: Yeah. I think you have to find that balance. And being able to multitask is definitely something I'd consider a strength of mine because I can sort of think creatively for multiple things at once. And I think it just comes with experience and just not getting stuck on certain things and knowing what's good for a certain project and where your head should be when you're working on it. Sometimes you can feel like you're getting burnt out, but it's easy to, for me at least, it's easy to get the right perspective back on what I'm trying to accomplish with a certain thing and just kind of work through it.
Jeff: Cool. And that really brings me into the theme of this show. We are all fueled by the finish line, and we want to leave the world a little different before we reach it, before we inevitably die. And you've been doing that in spades. But what keeps you going? What fuels you to want to not only keep producing music, but also keep writing and playing and performing? What fuels you to keep doing all that?
Will Putney: It's just still really interesting to me. And I feel like I'm still improving across the board and don't feel like, nothing I'm doing has felt stale to me yet. And I feel like as long as I can keep evolving my writing or producing and still grow as an artist, I'm very interested in seeing how far that goes and what I'll be capable of doing. I'm happy with the body of work I've put out, but I definitely think everything that's left here one way or the other could always be better. It's just that chase for the perfect record and song. And it just keeps me interested in trying to keep accomplishing things like that.
Jeff: That's so cool and very inspiring too. Do you have a favorite part of producing a record? There's so many little pieces that all fit together that create that final project, but is there a part of that that is more fun for you than others maybe?
Will Putney: I think it depends on the band or the style of music I'm working on. It could be wildly different from project to project. Sometimes there's a particular singer who I think is just great, and I really love when we get to that stage of the record because that's when the songs really come together. Sometimes it could be a really awesome guitar player and doing the whole sound design through the guitars could be just this really creatively inspiring thing to do. And sometimes it's not even when the band's around and I just have a lot of fun with a particular mix. It's always going to change because bands are different, people are different, and that whole dynamic is just different from record to record. So, yeah, on any given record, I'll have a different highlight.
Jeff: That's cool. And then also in your career, you've recorded all sorts of different music, all sorts of different instruments, and gotten some incredible sounds out of all that stuff. Has there been one that's been harder than most, like maybe an instrument to record or maybe a specific way that something was supposed to sound on a record that just was a puzzle that you had to figure out?
Will Putney: Sure. That happens all the time. I mean, I've definitely hit walls where I like hear something in my head and I'm not really getting what I want out of whatever I'm doing. And every mix or every record something inevitably pops up where I have to sort of troubleshoot myself and work through it, trial and error. I don't think there's ever been a time where a record hasn't brought that experience out.
Jeff: Yeah. So from someone who just kind of fell into this career path and loved it, what would be your advice to someone who wants to do what you're doing?
Will Putney: I think you just have to do it a lot honestly. I don't think any particular schooling or online thing necessarily is enough. The trial and error and learning from your mistakes and being able to improve on your own work. Just kind of working through stuff on your own independently or working under somebody who you really back creatively and sort of watching their process and learning from that, trying to apply that, messing it up, figuring it out. There's no real shortcut in this world. I feel like a lot of it, you just have to do and get through.
Jeff: Yeah, yeah. No, that's great advice, especially because now a lot of the technology and stuff, even hardware that you need to produce records, to create records, to record that kind of stuff is much more easily accessible. And I think just get out there and do it, I think that's great advice.
Will Putney: Yeah. Like I said, there's really no shortcut. And I feel like if I didn't grind out tons of records when I first got started and kind of worked as extreme as I did, I think it would have really slowed down my ability to get to where I was.
Jeff: Yeah. So, I am so excited for everything that you're doing. I'm so glad that you're still going to be producing, you're still coming out with all these different records, and the brand new record that's coming out, again remind me of the name, coming out tomorrow.
Will Putney: Yeah. END's got a new record, Splinters from an Ever-Changing Face. It's out tomorrow on Close D Casket Activities.
Jeff: Splinters from an Ever-Changing Face. I just love it so much. That's so great. And again, one of the greatest things is putting new music out in the world because it's something we all can enjoy. I can't thank you enough, Will, for taking time and talking with me on the show. It was really a pleasure getting the chance to pick your brain.
Will Putney: Sure, man. Thanks for having me. I always appreciate the coverage in times like ...