Fit for an Autopsy – Aggression and Sorrow

Sunday, 13th October 2019

A band that has seen some consistent growth and evolution with each new release is Fit for an Autopsy. Coming from their early deathcore roots, they’ve gradually and effectively introduced more elements to their sound to the point that it’s really hard to classify the band as just one thing (save the extreme metal tag). Their fifth album, The Sea of Tragic Beasts, truly solidifies the band as one of the genre’s most exciting properties. It switches up from brutal aggression to a more gloomy and sorrow-filled core while it tackles a number of hot-bed issues. We were able to grab guitarist Will Putney for a round of questions about the album in question, as well as his work as a producer (and how the two entities merge together).

Dead Rhetoric: Each Fit for an Autopsy release seems to move the band forward. How does The Sea of Tragic Beasts further your sound?

Will Putney: I feel like it was a natural progression for the band. This is more in line with the music that we like than any of our previous releases, as far as where we are now. We wanted to make something that sounded unique. This record is a good collection of what we like about aggressive music and our influences. I just went into it without thinking “we are going to make this big leap” or “things are going to sound so different” – we just wrote stuff that we like that we like.

Dead Rhetoric: Is growth more or less a given for a new album at this point? Do you feel more confident as a group?

Putney: We definitely do. This is probably the first time where I feel like we just felt good about the whole thing the whole time. We just knew where to go and didn’t feel restricted by anything. We weren’t worried about if anyone was going to like what we were doing or not. There was no pressure on this one. I was happy to dive into it, and make music that we were stoked about, and not care as much about how it would translate. It’s better when we take other factors out of the equation and just make the music we want to hear.

Dead Rhetoric: Sorrow is something that feels like it has crept in more with each release. Have we reached a point in extreme metal where you don’t just have to be angry all the time?

Putney: Yeah, I feel like there is plenty of aggressive stuff on the album, and we go at a bunch of topics. But when I was putting together concepts for this one, it was more of a reflection of what was going on in the world at the time. It’s where the writing went, and with the style of music that we play, it tends to lead itself towards that darker, sadder style. I don’t know if it’s because we are getting older. You can write a song that’s super pissed off at one topic a few times and then you can’t write that song anymore. We’ve targeted plenty of stuff in a really aggressive way in the last four albums, but it reaches this point where you have to start having to think a little bit deeper and add a layer to it. You don’t want to say the same things that you have already said.

Dead Rhetoric: What have you learned from working with other bands in the studio that you have applied to Fit for an Autopsy?

Putney: I definitely am inspired by all types of music, so when I work with really talented guys in bands, I am sure that it rubs off on me – spending so much time with so many different artists. It also shows me what I don’t like about heavy music too, in the same breadth. I can see trends, and there are a lot of bands that fall back on the same things, or the same kind of lyrics. I do my best to try to stay away from some of that stuff, so it’s not redundant by putting similar stuff out into the world. I guess in a way it’s taught me to avoid certain things because I can see that they are going to be a little bit predictable.

Dead Rhetoric: It’s almost like an advantage in some ways…

Putney: Yeah, I’m constantly making music. So my brain stays active in that scenario, and can work on new songs. I’m always full of new ideas and I always kind of going on in our world, so I can kind of clear my own path there.

Dead Rhetoric: The band has always had lyrics with a message behind them, is it important that the music says something to the listener?

Putney: Absolutely. I really have a hard time listening to bands that aren’t saying something relevant with their lyrics. For me, it’s like a deciding factor of what makes a band good. I can’t even imagine spending all of this time writing music and recording it, and then not putting that kind of [effort] on the vocals – not telling the right kind of story or getting the right kind of emotions. It just feels like a disservice to the music. Maybe it’s the way that we grew up, being hardcore kids, but it feels like the message behind the music was always as important as the music. It’s something that we carry with us, and what we will always try to do.

Dead Rhetoric: Your videos have also made quite an impact, from “Mirrors” to “Black Mammoth” and “Heads Will Hang” – what’s needed in order to make an impactful video?

Putney: I definitely attribute a lot of it to Max Moore just being a great director. He did “Heads Will Hang” and “Mirrors.” I can give him the concept and show him the lyrics, and tell him the story we are trying to tell and make people feel a certain way. We put some faith in him to capture it the right way. It’s important to find the right director for that kind of stuff. With “Black Mammoth,” we made it in 8 hours by ourselves.

I don’t even know if people know it, but we put that video together and it didn’t cost any money. It was one of those scenarios where the message and that theme of the video was more important than what the actual budget was. A good idea is something that generally make a good video. That’s where we have had some luck in writing about important subject matter that people are going to connect to. For me, being able to put those into video forms is a lot easier than something that didn’t mean anything.

Dead Rhetoric: How’d the switch to Nuclear Blast come about?

Putney: I have worked with Monte [Connor] on different records and stuff over the years, and have always had respect for the guy. He’s our new label head. We did a split with Thy Art is Murder and The Acacia Strain back in 2017. I really liked working with him. He has signed so many cool bands over the years, with his time at Roadrunner, and I’ve seen how efficient Nuclear Blast runs worldwide. When our contract was up with eOne, he was the first guy I called. I knew he had a vision for the band, and I just know how much of a powerhouse he, and Nuclear Blast, is. So we were pretty all-in right away.

Dead Rhetoric: You are always in the studio. Does it ever bummer you out, not being able to be on tour with the band?

Putney: It does. I wish I could do more of the touring. It’s a bummer to do all the work and not be able to see how it reacts in the live setting. But I try to make it out to whatever shows I can. For me, I had to make that choice: to do the band full-time or produce records full-time, because they are definitely two full time jobs. There’s no way I could do both without one suffering greatly. This is back when the band was smaller and getting started, and I had to make that decision. I didn’t want to give up this career that was going really well as a record producer just to maybe have a shot with the band.

Over the years, I’m excited that the band has grown into this really good live band, and our other guitar player Tim [Howley] does a fantastic job. They are killing it as a five piece while I am at home. We worked a good solution for it. I’m happy that I can still stay home and make records – there are pros and cons to it.

Dead Rhetoric: On the other hand, does all of your recording/mixing work aid in getting more people familiar with Fit for an Autopsy?

Putney: Yeah, I’m sure it has. More people now are aware that I do the band than when I first started making records, but it was definitely good to start meeting similar bands on that side. Some of our earlier touring came from just becoming friends with who I was working with. Earlier in the career, it was a good catalyst in getting the word out about the band.

Dead Rhetoric: Given the increases in technology for producing albums, what do you feel is your most important role when work on an album with someone?

Putney: My approach is to look at it as a fan of the band. I am working with this band, I imagine their fans, and what I want to hear from this particular band or what makes this band unique? What’s the strongest part of this band, and I’ll try to focus and really pull that part out. I always try to stay out of the box and see it from the other side. What do people want from this band? That’s what I try to deliver.

Dead Rhetoric: In speaking to Andy Marsh of Thy Art is Murder recently, he described you as a part of the TAiM team. Does this level of collaboration speak to you having so many repeat clients for recordings?

Putney: I definitely think so. Most bands that I work with, we are getting deeper into our careers together and I have been doing multiple records for a lot of bands. I really do get dug in with the music and the bands, where I’m fortunate that they kind of let me join the ranks for these albums. It’s definitely given me, for each respective artist, some importance when it comes to putting records together. I do a lot of songwriting with bands, and I spend a lot of time working on songs from the ground up with a lot of artists nowadays.

Dead Rhetoric: You have a tour coming up as the album releases, what else do you have planned for Fit for an Autopsy or END?

Putney: We will be touring pretty non-stop. We have a US tour and a European tour announced now, and we have more in the works after that. The band is going to hit it pretty hard next year. I know we will definitely be circling the globe more than once in the next year. There will be plenty of shows to play. Everyone just wants to get that record in front of people and play these new songs live. There’s a lot of excitement there. It’s a busier schedule than we have ever had.

As far as END, some stuff will surface soon. We’ve been slowly chipping away at a record. We will have some announcements coming shortly with some new things for the band and some new shows.

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