Absolute Metal: A Conversation With Fit For An Autopsy’s Will Putney

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For the better part of the last decade Fit For An Autopsy has been pushing the metal envelope with their unique brand of aggressively heavy music. Their career seemed to be in jeopardy back in 2013 when the band lost respected vocalist Nate Johnson after the release of their critically-acclaimed album Hellhound. Johnson informed the other members he would be departing the group just as the metal community at large was becoming aware of the band, and somehow the remaining members of FFAA found a way to push forward. Fill-in vocalists were recruited to ensure the band never missed a show, and tours continued to be booked, all while the group worked on a new record they never knew if they would be able to record. That’s around the time when Joe Badolato entered the picture and, as they say in cliche moments where originality is lacking, the rest is history.

Two years have now passed since Hellhound, and with the Badolato on vocals Fit For An Autopsy that has evolved into what time may be the best incarnation of FFAA to date. The group’s new album, Absolute Hope Absolute Hell, is a relentlessly heavy record that finds the band trying their best to expand on a genre of metal that many often view as being littered with redundancy – including the members of FFAA themselves. It’s true to the music the band has offered fans so far, but with with just enough experimentation to keep everyone on their toes throughout. We’ve included a complete stream of the record in this post.

Last week, Fit For An Autopsy member Will Putney hopped on the phone with us to discuss his band’s new album, as well as how he balances his role in the group with his career as one of metal’s most sought-after producers. You can read highlights from our conversation below.

Absolute Hope Absolute Hell arrives in stores October 2. Click here to order your copy.

H: So we are about a week away from Absolute Hope Absolute Hell hitting shelves. How are you feeling headed into this album? I know it has been a couple years since you last shared new music.

WP: It’s really good, actually. When we released ‘Hellbound’ we were far more unknown than we are now, and we like to think we have been grinding hard since that record hit shelves. It feels good to look online and see kids reacting to the new material already. Feels really good.

H: There is a lot to talk about with this new record, so let’s just dive in. I read recently that you believe the addition of vocalist Joe Badolato was one of the best things to happen to the band since inception. Can you expand on that a bit?

WP: We were fortunate enough to have our original vocalist with us for two records and an EP. He is a really hard guy to replace, so when he initially left the band our morale was really low. We had no idea how to go on without this guy who is viewed as a super respectable frontman, so we spent a while looking for people and found guys to fill-in on tours, but when we decided to begin focusing on this record we still didn’t have someone in place. I was writing the record, getting ready to enter the studio, and we were still without a vocalist.

Joe came to us when we were the most stressed out. The future of the band was more in jeopardy than ever, and he injected this new energy to the band that really brought us back. Morale was suddenly high again, and we were dedicated to the music. Once we knew what Joe could do we were really able to try new things with our music, and that craft this new record.

H: How did you initially come in contact with Joe? I know Greg Wilburn of The Devastated was filling in on vocal duties in mid-2014, so when did Joe come into the picture?

WP: We knew Greg from another band we had toured with, and we had touring booked we didn’t want to cancel, so we made a quick decision to bring him on. He did the tours and quickly worked himself back out of the band. It’s probably best to leave that there.

H: Speaking strictly to the writing of this album, how much involvement did Joe have in lyrics and music?

WP: This time he wasn’t. Like I said, I had literally written the record before we had a singer. That’s how down to the wire we were when we found Joe. We were on tour in Australia at the time and I was finishing up the record. We were slated to start recording in my studio when the band got back to the states, and at that point we had yet to recruit Joe. When he came into the picture we made some changes, manipulated a few parts, and really worked to transform what had already been created to cater to Joe’s abilities.

H: Having heard the new album already, I spent this morning revisiting Hellhound. It’s kind of incredible how your sound has changed while still maintaining, if not pushing, the heaviness of past releases. What sparked your interest in being a bit more experimental with your sound on this record?

WP: I think I just got tired of writing the same kind of song, and to be honest my taste in music has really undergone a change over the last couple of years. I’m listening to a lot less of what fits into our genre, and I wanted to incorporate more of the stuff I like into what we do. I had this challenge in my mind of trying to combine elements of those other genres with where we were, and this album is the result of that.

H: For lack of a better word, this record sounds big. I don’t know if everyone will use the term avant-garde, but I will. There are some truly inspired moments on this record, and I think the ones I enjoy the most are those that feel like a by product of post-rock. Would you say that genre had an influence on you in the creation of this album?

WP: It definitely was. You know, I produce metal records for a living, so when I go home I absolutely do not listen to metal (laughs). I take away more from a lot of bands in those other genres than I do from bands working in heavy music market today, so that is the majority of stuff floating around in my head. I wanted to write that type of music, but I wanted to make it fit the style of metal we play, so that is what we tried to do with this record. I’m not going to say we sound like those big post-rock bands because we don’t, but I do think we are consciously trying to make music that evokes a similar emotion or feeling as what those artists are able to achieve.

H: Thematically speaking, the album seems to deal a lot with the duality of man and nature. That is apparent from the title alone, but what I find most impressive is the many ways you find to approach the subject. The song that sticks out to me the most is “Murder In The First.” Could you speak a bit on that song and the story behind it?

WP: I wrote the first and last lines first, and I really wanted to build a song around it. The track finds a person admitting defeat to the devil. They’ve tried to change the world, but they failed, and now they’re ready to walk away from it all.

H: It’s pretty aggressive.

WP: It’s really angry, to be honest, but that is the kind of stuff that gets us fired up. The lyrics reflect what we see when we look around in a global way. It’s really came together fairly easily.

H: If I might ask about one more, there is something about “Mask Maker” that keeps me coming back. There is a pulsating rhythm that lingers long after the song ends, and I have to know what inspired its creation.

WP: That song has a bit more of an epic and abstract approach to the lyrics. I had this idea for  past generations being able to look into the future and see how much we have screwed everything up. Like, we’ve been given this world and here is what we have to show for it, but in an abstract way. It’s a little different than what we would normally do with a song, but I think worked out well. The ending is sort of my opinion of the track. It takes an aggressive, wild turn that brings everything home in a personal way.

H: You’re also a producer, and you’ve worked on a lot of big heavy albums over the last few years. How do you balance you role in the band with your work as a producer? Does one come before the other?

WP: They’re both important things to me. I’m very lucky to have a career in music at all, and I like to think I am pretty humble about. I don’t tour with the band anymore. We actually added a third guitar player so the band could tour as a complete unit when I’m busy at the studio.

That said, I think the band needs to exist because I feel compelled to create. I spend all day helping people make music and create records, but at the end of the day none of it is really mine. I’m a part of it, but it doesn’t come from me. Fit For An Autopsy is a release for me, and it’s an important thing for me to have in my life.

My two roles help one another, though neither necessarily do so in a direct way.

H: What kind of influence does your time working with other bands on their records have on the material you create with Fit For An Autopsy?

WP: It definitely points me in the right direction. I don’t think we will ever be a band that follows the trend of what others do, but working with other bands in our genre does help guide me in our creative endeavors.

H: Before we go, we should probably touch on touring. What do you have planned for the fall?

WP: I’ll be out with the band a bit, but I don’t think I will be play. The band is doing a few shows around the record release on October 2, followed by a headlining tour not long after. We also have a major piece of news and activity planned for 2016, which might involve even more new music, but I am not able to discuss that stuff right now.

H: Well I wish you the best of luck in everything, Will. You’ve crafted an incredible release and I cannot wait to see how the world reacts. Thank you.

WP: Thank you.


James Shotwell is the Marketing Coordinator for Haulix. He is also a professional entertainment critic, covering both film and music, as well as the co-founder of Antique Records. Feel free to tell him you love or hate the article above by connecting with him on Twitter. Bonus points if you introduce yourself by sharing your favorite Simpsons character.

James Shotwell

James Shotwell is the Director of Customer Engagement at Haulix and host of the company's podcast, Inside Music. He is also a public speaker known for promoting careers in the entertainment industry, as well as an entertainment journalist with over a decade of experience. His bylines include Rolling Stone, Alternative Press, Substream Magazine, Nu Sound, and Under The Gun Review, among other popular outlets.