Seth Putnam Remembered

By: Shawn Macomber Posted in: interviews On: Tuesday, June 28th, 2011

Were he somehow able to observe the aftermath of his own recent passing from on high amidst the ether, it is easy to imagine Seth Putnam’s glee at the kids clambering atop digital platforms to ostentatiously proclaim righteous ambivalence over his death or the Village Voice’s lengthy tut-tutting. You do not do or say the things Seth Putnam did and said for as long as he did and said them without a real appetite for disapproval, condemnation, marginalization.

And, lord, did Decibel ever see the mark of a truly tireless provocateur when we set out to solicit a few words on Putnam’s life and legacy from select extreme music luminaries and former AC collaborators. Many a scoff across a burned bridge was delivered and, truth be told, if not for Scott Hull of Pig Destroyer/Agoraphobic Nosebleed this post would likely not exist at all. (Hull is apparently not only the greatest extreme metal composer of his generation, but also a uniter, not a divider.) In the end, we were able to pull together the following surprisingly touching, thoughtful remembrances from Philip Anselmo, Steve Austin, Mike Williams, Tim Morse, Hull, and Dan Harrington, who suggested we top it with the above Sex Pistols video.

Thanks to everyone who took the time to contribute and now without further delay…

Tim Morse, first and last drummer of Anal Cunt

March 1988 I got a phone call from Seth.

Hey you wanna start a band?

Sure! What we gonna do?

Nothing but pure noise. No songs at all!

Cool! What we gonna call it?

Ahhh…Anal Cunt?

Cool!

Yeah we’re just gonna play one show. That’s it.

I really miss my friend.

Philip H. Anselmo, Down, Pantera, etcetera, living legend, etcetera:

I knew Seth pretty fucking well back in ’90′s… He was hilarious, and an extremist. My favorite Anal Cunt record was, and is, Morbid Florist. I still consider it as an underrated, original-sounding classic, even today. And that’s truthful. Seth had a bizarre, absurd sense of humor that pissed a lot of people off, but the way Seth saw it, that’s what they were, just “a lot of pissed-off people.” I got his humor like the back of my fist. And truthfully, the dude was unbelievably creative and thrived within his little realm. What I mean by that “little realm” is, that aside from a handful of bands, Seth didn’t give a shit about the majority, and that included all of my bands!

But our friendship wasn’t based on pure music; it was the hilarious, drunken times of yore. Sure, we did some partying back in the day, but the thing is, that process of misery ran its course in my life. Obviously it was different in Seth’s. But if I can offer anything here, it’s that Seth would not want us pissing and moaning over his death, and that’s fucking true. He had worldwide success doing what he loved to do, period. It’s just sad the way it happened. If you were a fan, celebrate the guy’s life — he’d want you to. And if you weren’t, mind your own business…

RIP Putnam…The fight is over, so sleep well brother.

Mike IX Williams, EyeHateGod:

Seth Putnam: A man of questionable values and ideas but a great sense of humor, to be taken with a grain of salt, and tragedy. He was a good friend and supporter of Eyehategod from the beginning. The stories I can tell from hanging out and touring with him are numerous and crazy. Controversy was normal for Seth, but his heart was golden. His cocaine and love for The Village People will be missed.

Scott Hull, Pig Destroyer/Agoraphobic Nosebleed:

There are a lot of things about Seth Putnam that can be debated and argued. There are quite a lot of things he has written and/or done that, depending on your standpoint, are indefensible. I also know he’s done a pretty good job of destroying a lot of close relationships with people over the years. I am not going to address any of that, because I want to focus on what Seth did offer the underground extreme music scene. I don’t pretend that I was one of his best friends, but we did keep in touch over the years. However, I don’t want the things that were good to get buried under all the acrimony and venom.

I joined AC for a brief period of time in 1995 because of a mutual relationship with AC’s manager, Greg Heiman. I was going to grad school at Boston College, and AC was just starting to get “big.” Their first Earache release came out about a year or so after I discovered them via random 7-inches in various Boston record stores. By the time Morbid Florist was released, however, I was already convinced AC was the greatest thing ever. I had a tough time explaining this to most of my friends. I did manage to catch them once in Richmond opening for, I believe, Amorphis, and then again in Providence opening for Vital Remains. Both shows confirmed to me that AC was an incredible force. One singer, one guitar, one drummer. As people will attest, a pre-stroke AC show was always on fire. That fact could rarely be disputed.

Seth also brought some much-needed irreverence and danger to metal, punk, whatever. The stories from the live shows (and from life occurrences) were usually recounted unexaggerated. A large part of the shows I played with them were cut short. Seth was for real and kept pushing and pushing, finding where boundaries were and jumping over them. Boundaries in his lyrics. Boundaries in his relationships with people.

So, here we are: 2011. One doesn’t have to look too deep to trace the lines of influence back though bands like Assück, Discordance Axis, Brutal Truth; the former two even modeling their personnel similarly to AC, the later going so far as to mimic, or cover, a couple of AC-like noise pieces. When I moved down to the DC area, after having left AC, J.R. and I were attracted to the streamlined effectiveness of that arrangement—thus Pig Destroyer was born. Nowadays, it’s fairly commonplace to see a grindcore band without a bass player. Hell, there are even a couple of doom bands that have similar set-ups. Honestly, like it or not, we can really thank Seth for that.

Someone else might have done it had he not, but they didn’t.

For any culture or subculture to survive, it needs to have a robust mythology. Seth Putnam and AC stories contributed a lot to the underground mythology. It gave the scene someone that was true to all those stories, both good and bad. People like Seth lend some depth and definition to this subculture. Deep down, all of us metalheads, grind freaks and punk rockers want to believe that the scene, all the bands and fans, are more than just “normal” people plucking away at instruments, going back to their day jobs. People like Seth — again, like it or not — give us that.

The flip side to this is you had a person where with whom you really didn’t know where you stood. There’s a picture of Seth holding up a sign that says “Scott Hull is a faggot nerd” from the AC 10th anniversary that I didn’t attend. I didn’t really care about that; I totally expected it. Everyone knows that to know Seth is to invariably take some hard shots from him. Other people that were very close to him early on (some notable people I won’t mention, but you don’t have to think too hard about it) took a lot of lumps. Some have remained his friends, some have not. And the longer you knew him, the harder the shots were. He was an extreme person, but he could also be smart, friendly and creative. With Seth, you took the good with the bad. And we still can thank him for a lot, even if it is categorically difficult to defend much of his ideas or actions.

Steve Austin, Today is the Day:

Seth Putnam and I recorded one album and several seven-inches together at my studio. He was honest, super-intelligent and a true free spirit. I have never known anyone like him in my life.

Below are the actual posts I wrote on Facebook the day Seth died and after. I think how I feel was summed up accordingly in these:

I am sitting here crying my brain out. My good friend Seth Putnam died yesterday of a heart attack. Seth was a real person. We worked together on Anal Cunt records and played shows together. He was a true musical genius and fearless in his art. This shit makes me terribly sad as I feel I lost a good, good friend today. Seth, I will miss you man. We had a lot of good times. I am feeling more calm, but it still really hurts to see him go. He was the Spirit of Real Rock N’ Roll and Heavy Metal and I loved the way he was. He was a tortured soul like most of us that play music and I really identified with that about him. Forty-three years old and still fighting the good fight to make art that pushed the boundaries, that made you think. He will be missed dearly by me and I seriously doubt there will be another guy like him. He dared to create things that he knew weren’t going to be accepted by others. Seth Putnam, if you’re out there, you made your mark. You won’t be topped and you were one of my best friends. Love ya’ brother and hopefully we’ll get to hang again in another world, time or place.

***

Seth’s Funeral is tomorrow. I gotta say that every time I think about this it really tears me up. I think about all the fucked up bad people who deserve the worst and in the middle of this crazy world the very few like Seth, who winds up passing at forty-three years old. It just ain’t right. Seth, I miss ya’ man, and I can certainly say, you are the most extreme dude I have ever known.

Fearless is the word.

It has been really hard not to break down over the last week every time I think of him dying and not around anymore. Many may not agree with what he said lyrically, but he was a Lenny Bruce of Metal and his relevance will last forever. He made you think, he made you angry, he made you feel his emotion. He knew what pushed people’s buttons and all of the social bullshit that goes on in this world through Political Correctness. Seth was out to make you think, to promote freedom of thought. I don’t think hardly anyone has the balls to do that these days.

Dan Harrington, toured with Putnam, contributed vocals to Wearing Out Our Welcome:

I’m still in shock. I didn’t want to believe the news when Tim Morse called me. One of the best people I have ever met is no longer with us. Seth Putnam and I had only become close a couple years ago, but it seems like I’ve known him for decades.

I’ll always remember the good times, driving around blaring Death (Detroit), Slaughter, Motley Crue and Motorhead screaming at the top of our lungs and destroying inanimate objects. Pounding scorpion bowls and cracking each other up until we thought our ribs would shatter. Whether people enjoyed your music or got your sense of humor, it didn’t matter. You were a man who was one hundred percent passionate about his music, loved life and loved his friends even more.

I’m not going to say goodbye, just thanks. Thanks for all the good times, knowing you has made me a better person. Till we meet again pal, save me a stool at the bar. I’m gonna buy a few rounds of kamikazes and i’ll have a few stories to tell you.

  • BillyBob

    You Cried Because Seth Putnam Died (You’re Gay)

    • WAR

      You cried when i knocked your teeth out. 

      • BillyBob

        I get the impression the joke went right over your head.

        • deusex

          i cried when you died

  • Kernle

    R.I.P. Seth 

  • Wash Jones

    I remember realizing exactly how fearless Seth was after a show about 10 years ago, at the new england metal and hardcore fest. Hatebreed were headlining one stage, Anal Cunt had the same slot on another. There was some snafu, maybe the stages got switched last minute, who knows, but a lot of fans wound up at the wrong stages when the bands played. Peeps were bummed, bands were bummed.

    Seth’s response?

    FIGHT HATEBREED.

    • Carl Z

       and when he says fight hatebreed, he means it , him and jamey jasta fist fighting at the palladium was awesome, i was there to witness it and will never forget it

  • NSBLACKMETAL666

    HAIL VAGINAL JESUS!!

  • zac

    Zac Ohler: Extremity Retained Booking.
    I was AxCx’s booking agent for the last 5 years, and I , like many others know there is never , nor was there ever a dull moment working with Seth. On the first tour I booked for them, a very angry promoter called me advising me the band was 5 hours late (load in 5pm, its now 1030). 15 minutes later he calls back saying the band had arrived and when the promoter asked them where they had been, Seth replied “Fuck you faggot, where is our fucking beer” . Always good times. My band (Strong Intention) did some touring with AxCx in the last 3 years and it was everything you would expect. Dope,guns, fucking in the streets man. The last few shows we did with AxCx were on the west coast in April of this year. Seth was telling we how amazing it was playing Boise,ID and Omaha,NE and how he could not wait to get back on the road in the fall. Of course, it was not to be . I miss my friend Seth, I always took the good and the bad that came with him. He was a true original.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=501309890 Farhaad Esfandiary

      That is epic.

  • Tom from the meatshits

    Seth will be greatly missed ! It was a honor to be on the other side of the 88song 7in .Sincerley tom (founding guitarist THE MEEATSHITS)

  • Jesse Noise

    I was fortunate enough to get to open for AC on their last show ever in Arizona. I had been a fan for some years so I was pretty stoked to have the opportunity. I didn’t know Seth personally but you really have to be a closed minded idiot to not get his sense of humor. He was hilarious. Cheers Seth. Thank you for the laughs. I hope you’re in a better place man. Jesse(vocals for godawfulnoise).

  • Chucky Hardcore

    Type your comment here. ” Seth with SIEGE was yet another false start failed reunion attempt of SIEGE. He answered an ad Kurt put in the Phoenix. The

    ad didn’t say who the band was, but Seth showed up super sick and prepared and Kurt asked him how he knew who the band 

    was and Seth said anyone who knew that kinda music knew that address – Weymouth – SIEGE. I also remember the day of Seth’s 

    audition was when I was first “experimenting” and I ran back and forth between songs vomiting off the porch of the SIEGE

    rehearsal space, which ironically was in a church. 

     

    These were some of the greatest, most energetic jam sessions of my life. If only these were recorded – it was the sickest, most soaring elation, just like harsh loud guitar in your viscera – Marshall roaring, a galloping looseness and rapport, real traditional hardcore but tight Gosh it was hard biting fucking rocking fucking shit, I’ll tell you. By the end we’d be dripping with sweat. 

    The new material we’d written was another story, though. Kurt was going through some longhair Fripp wannabe phase and

    some of the stuff was stiff and instrumental and academic and fucking gay. I’m glad that particular shit never saw the

    light of day, frankly. One track from that era was salvaged – ‘Cameras’, about 40 seconds long, Seth later put it on a comp he

    oversaw – ’13 bands who think you’re gay’ (note – on Menace To Sobriety Records). Anyways, it was a bit of a shame, too, of course, cause some of the shit was this galloping traditional Brit-core kinda shit and it was absolutely fucking sick heaviness but Kurt thought he could forever alter and rearrange my compositions…No gigs,…Nothing got finished. 

     

    (note – See “Choosing Death :The Unlikely History of Death Metal and Grindcore” by Albert Mudrian for a statement on when Kurt erased some of Seth’s singing overdubbing his own noticeably different voice so as to change the political content of the lyrics) 

     

    But out of this poser gaiety chaos true creativity was rising. I made some b&w super 8 films, one with Seth as John Lennon getting shot. Then we did an album cover photo shoot together – that’s me on the cover of ‘Everyone Should Be Killed’, although I don’t play on the recording, I was the model on the cover there,…the shot was taken at the Weymouth Library parking lot. The kid getting his ass beat was Goyce, who is the original Pudionka the Clown interpretive dancer in my next group, Nightstick,..he became a homeless druggie later for a while, misfortune which was to befall many of our rocker brethren,… I remember Seth directing the photo shoot like some deranged Coppola “Now Actually Hit Him !! ”

    Seth recorded what some regard as his best AC disc ‘Morbid Florist’ at an analog studio in SIEGE’s very creative rocking 

    hometown of Weymouth,.. Iguana studios, which was above this music instrument store. The owner / engineer was this cool lady, Tina. Looking back, man she must’ve had the patience of a saint. I went to visit the AC recording session there and Seth was passed out on the floor and It smelled like a brewery in there, I think they had a keg in there! Seth would go into the bathroom and conjure these expressive  nightmarish vocal textures using nothing but his body and voice – stretching the skin of his stomach up with the mic in it to go “Uhhh Bllurrrbaaa hhaaaa Bluurrrbbbaah hha Blurrbahh” or just confident, confident, improv. It was genius, being berthed there in Weymouth, or being furthered. He’s a fucking innovator and a genius. 

    Seth was the first one to lend me rehearsal space to form my own group after SIEGE – Nightstick, this doom, noise kind’ve thing and we went on the record 3 discs with Relapse and I am so eternally grateful to him for first lending me that space. Not many know this but the man is a great supporter of local music, and a deeply sensitive artist. 

    Seth sat in on vocals at Nightstick’s first show, which was at this dive in Weymouth called Shrauti’s and I remember the marquee said “Nightstick with Twin Lobster $10.99″ Seth twirled the mic in the first song like a very drunk Daltry and it smacked the rafters and was dead during the first song. No matter – he yelled so loud it filled the place and the parking lot and the neighborhood – keeping up with the amps with his bellowing lung capacity, like Lawrence Olivier or Pavarotti or something. Glasses rattled. Then his shorts ripped, and you could see his goodies as he rolled over onto his back with this giant wooden cross on rawhide around his neck, whipping the unconnected mic cord.

     

    I was fixated on ‘forcing’ local cover band clubs to be receptive to original music, so I’d book shows at little local places deliberately, I’d be like ‘Fuck them’ like they were ‘retarded by a climate of cover band mentality’ and musically malnourished, by shit, if you will, and I had active contempt for this, you see, so I had the bright idea to book AC at the Good Company Lounge in Braintree, MA (note – as immortalized on the 7 ” and liner notes of ‘Breakin’ The Law’ on  Boston’s Finest records).  A resultant conflict over volume and a dart match escalated with some regulars in there and the next thing you know the club owner has had his face smashed by a mic stand – fights all over, chairs, glass..fuck. I wound up facing charges stemming from the matter – for hitting a woman with a guitar, which was actually or should I say allegedy perpretrated by Fred O, soon to be fired from AC and to disappear while I faced trial up there like OJ, with Kurt Habelt from SIEGE coming to testify on my behalf, and for which I was fully aquitted and found not guilty by a jury. But had indeed booked the show with Altamont-caliber chaos premeditated, so,..guilty as charged on that. I knew AC and Nightstick were going to descend on a local pub with Marshall stacks, and a chair-hurling, angry Iggy of a Tasmanian Devil was to be loosed. The minute he first let out the scream opening the set with Song #6 the place cringed collectively and you could feel the horrible inevitable violence mounting and fights broke out almost immediately. That’s the effect Seth has on an audience.

     

    I was also there when Seth singlehandedly stood down the entire Hatebreed crew on stage in front of thousands of people at the Palladium in Worcester. AC was headlining. Seth was geting primed at the bar next door to there. Hatebreed’s crew shows up – they want to headline that venue, and not the smaller one where they were booked. The entourage, arms folded, takes the stage, comandeering the show. The Stage Manager does nothing. Hatebreed’s shit’s set up. Suddenly Seth appears, AC’s setup is small but simple and sick – John was carrying their drum set up. Seth is on stage, confronting Jamie and the enire Hatebreed crew – you know, the 10 or 20 people who used to stand on stage with them with their arms folded, frowning. Fights break out. Seth singlehandely stands down the jocks. I turn to the guys at the Relapse table “Let’s get down there – Seth’s in trouble! ” I run down and realize they aren’t behind me. Seth is now on the floor and there is a gigantic cop there “You wanna fight somebody – fight ME!” I follow the cops as they drag him out and throw him in a paddy wagon, and this Worcester cop has one of those antenna baton things and I remember the anonymous arm coming out of the paddy wagon and then flying out of sight as they struck him and Seth’s growl ringing out each time he got clobbered “Ahhhhgggrrrhhhh….Ahhhhgggrrrrhhhh !!” just exactly like he was singing !! 

     

    I am proud to count myself among the AC extended musical family, and Seth is one of my most cherished collaborators. Check out ‘The Death’s Head Quartet’ a noise improv outfit, based on the sound of the end of SIEGE’s ‘Grim Reaper’, with Jim Hobbs on Alto Sax (note- on Opposite Records from New York)  conversation / scat / gibberish duets with Seth. Our film and live recording, Live at CBGB’s, is one of the best things I’ve ever done. 

     

    Most recently Seth spun off a ‘death-punk’ outfit called Full Blown AIDS and which I call just AIDS which is whispered to be his best shit. Seth plays gtr and sings and writes all the stuff, and a guy named Paulie from Nasty savage I think and V.J. if you know who I mean on bass, AIDS have two albums on Menace To Sobriety, I just believe in the material so much and everyone did their job so well, from the recording (which was 2 inch analog) to the instrumentation, emotion-laden takes and of course singing – after SIEGE and Nightstick this was just frosting on the cake for me. We played one show in Roxbury (ie- black people’s city) and I dressed in full minstrel blackface complete with costume and nappy wig for the show. When we were about to record our second lp, which has a sick sick version of ‘For Those About To Rock’ on it, (you need to hear when Seth first kicks in with ‘Yeah Yeah’ like Brian Johnson) anyways when we were about to record this I had a birthday party at my house with heroin, crack and prositutes not to mention musician friends. Alex Smith, bassist vocalist from Nightstick was with a whore in the van making shadow puppets – he had just been released from prison, you see. It was at a condo I had on Cape Cod. 

     

    Well I was ironically a substitute teacher in Weymouth and when I turned the phone back on after school it rings and it’s Paulie, bassist from AIDS. Seth was in the hospital – it was bad. I rushed there – only his Mom was there – the tubes were sticking out – now the truth can be told I guess they were going to pull the plug on him, it’s no secret. I was absolutely devastated. A mighty oak, my party-animal rock and hero, my idol and inspiration, warrior brother had fallen. I was mainlining dope back on The Cape when the Phoenix reporter called. He was supposed to be our friend and led me to believe I was off the record – I intoxicatedly disclosed my remorse – next thing I know he’s going to run an article on Seth’s coma! (note – this article eventually ran in the Phoenix, titled ‘Coma Chameleon’ by Carly Carioli) Seth’s family called me, hating me. Three months later, Seth came out of it enought to consider making music again. We finished the second AIDS l.p., with the ACDC cover, and it was better than it would have been. Seth was back. But then I quit AIDS after 2 very, very energetic NY shows, cancelling a Boston show, having experienced a post-crack habit religious awakening, vowing not to be involved in any project with objectionable lyrical content or subject matter, and returning to record crust / peace punk with SIEGE singer Mahoney in a project called To The Victor…The Spoils ” (note – forthcoming on Deep 6 records in L.A.)  

     

    • http://halsotips.info/ halsotips

      long comment.

  • jerbaks

    all our fans are gay.

  • iheartgod

    caring about anything is gay

  • Ramin Dikshit

    I Got my Best friend into Seth putnam back in the day, He (my best Friend) got me into Hard Liqour and Cases of beer. He (My best friend) recently Died a couple Nights before newyears of a Heroin Overdose. I will never forget My Buddy getting arrested at gun point one night on the town in a Drunken bender, with a copy of Mein Kampf in his backpack, haha. the pigs didnt know what to think!!!

    Being an Anal cunt fan with my best bud brought us Joy and revelance in something we know not a lot of people could understand, Seths Legacy, and poetical Genius was only as equal as his level of Humor.

    We got kicked off the Bus later that week, for Singing along with SHUT UP MIKE (a tape I made my Friend) I learned how to Handle my shit to Seths Music, Stomache Bile, My yellow Friend! R.I.P. There is nothing between friends like Listening and understanding the Music Of Seth putnam, that, AND of course; 2 balls of premium crack.
    Keep your Brown little noses Clean Ladies. Cut them off to spite your own face and shove them up your own Buttholes.
    either way, Heres my Blog that I made on my computer!!! hahah BLOODY LOG!
    Technology is Gay. Try not to get your Laptop Covered in Jizz from blowing your load to Queer Internet porn.
    You cant help that your all Just gay.

  • OdinsChild

    leaving comments is gay

  • lol

    Seth Putnam IS FUCKING GAYYYYYYYYY