Photo by Bobby Bates
Interview with vocalist/guitarist/producer Will Putney | By Nicholas Senior
Fit For An Autopsy is currently at the peak of the deathcore scene for two reasons: they absolutely understand how to be excellent songwriters (instead of just focusing on breakdowns), and they have a secret weapon. Guitarist/lyricist/producer Will Putney is the New Jersey band’s ace up their sleeve. While the rest of the band heads out on tour, Will serves as one of the premiere metal and hardcore producers around, working at The Machine Shop. Will is able to hear firsthand what other bands are doing, and by helping bands perfect their own sounds, he has some keen insight into what works and doesn’t, and is able to guide Fit For An Autopsy in new and exciting directions. All of this comes together to make the band’s third album, Absolute Hope Absolute Hell not only a compelling and fantastic listen, but an album that should serve as a guidepost on how to perfectly execute quality deathcore in 2015.
Will describes the process a bit, “With this album, I had lost some interest in our current scene; not a lot of records have come out in the past year that were inspiring to me. At this time, more so than any other record, I was writing the music and was inspired by music outside of our death metal/deathcore genre. I think it helped make it its own thing.”
Will continues, “I just got tired of listening to records where it was 40 minutes of getting pummeled all the time. There are still bands that do that well, but I don’t feel like we shouldn’t have to do that or try to be the most extreme band ever. I like to write in a way that makes those heavy parts feel more impactful. It makes you feel more in the song than ‘hey this is heavy’ all the time.”
The band did have to deal with replacing one of the premiere metal vocalists in between records. Will states that while it was a challenge, it was definitely a blessing in disguise. “We had with Nate [Johnson], one of the best voices in the genre that I’ve ever heard, and we loved what he did and having him in the band, but that’s what you get with him; his voice adds an extra layer of heaviness to everything. We had actually written the record before we met [vocalist] Joe [Badolato], and it took a while to find a guy like him who has an expanded range and can do some of the things the music called for. It really helped push our sound further. If Nate were on this record, I don’t know that the dynamics would’ve translated as well.”
He’s not wrong. Absolute Hope Absolute Hell is phenomenally heavy, but there’s a very-welcome sense of dynamism that is central to the success of the band’s upcoming third album. Fit For An Autopsy uses atmosphere and continue to showcase why they may be the best songwriters in modern metal throughout the album. Songs like “Saltwound” and “Ghosts in the River” would be boring in other hands, but they are moving and haunting tracks of the highest order.
Lyrically, Will didn’t pull any punches. “This time, I had a really good vision of what I wanted to say. The one thing we’ve always done is approaching our lyrics based more on the real world setting compared to the shock-value or fantasy lyrics in metal. This time we were getting frustrated watching how apathetic things are in the world. It’s very easy for people to see something really shocking on the internet and go ‘oh, that’s not really that big of a deal’ and not put any real thought into it. The whole point of the Absolute Hope Absolute Hell concept was that people always think it will just work out. There are problems that are all over the place, in front of us and globally, and nothing ever changes. Most people just ignore it, and that’s always bothered me.”
He goes on, “We’re an active band; we try to make a difference and work with charities, and we try to encourage people to active too. But we’re also part of the problem. The point of writing a record like this is it gives you that taste of how terrible things can be and how we just let it happen. We have this false sense of security. It’s always resonated with us: how could we be so fucking stupid? You can go on Facebook and see a set of pictures of children being blown up in a school, and the next thing is a stream of kitten pictures. Everybody ends up looking at the kittens, you know?”
One of the key themes of the record is that we have the ability to make a change, to stop the cycle of ignorance, but it’s definitely a depressing record. So how did focusing on all this darkness make Will feel? Surprisingly, he came out of it better than expected. “I feel more inspired now. In searching for things to write about, it definitely has made me question how I look at the world and how I make a difference. I’m more motivated to do positive things.”
Honorably, the band isn’t full of empty proselytizing; they are actively trying to make a difference. “One thing that we always see that rings a bit is when troops go to war and come home and suffer from PTSD or various mental effects from fighting in a war. It goes a bit unchecked over here. You have these people who put their lives on the line for their country and come home, and they’re a fucking mess. There’s not really a good system in place to help those people. The government programs are either unhelpful or underfunded. So we started working with PTSD Survivors of America, and from this we realize that we can help a little. It’d be great one day to see more inspired heavy bands stand behind what they see, you know. I’m hopeful.”