Seth Putnam of A.C.: The Hellbound Interview

By Justin M. Norton

Seth Putnam has a confession: “I’m mildly mellower. I am in my 40s.” The Anal C—t frontman’s version of mellow might be much different than yours, especially considering that he went into a coma in 2004 after an overdose of two months worth of sleeping pills that forced him to relearn how to walk. Putnam still drinks. He still uses drugs, and not just pot. And he still makes music with the goal of offending everyone. There’s no Regarding Henry scenario, where a selfish man wakes up from a coma changed and thoughtful. Putnam woke up from a coma as abrasive, callous and nihilistic as ever. He started partying again like nothing happened. As soon as he relearned to walk he was back on the underground tour circuit.

Putnam says the big difference is that he no longer has the suicidal urges that marked much of his first three decades. Otherwise, he’s still the same guy that wrote “You Were Pregnant So I Kicked You In The Stomach” and “The Word ‘Homophobic’ Is Gay.”

Putnam has long been one of the most talked about and reviled figures in extreme metal. About half of the people reading this likely despise him. He’s inspired a few deathwatches and wrote the grindcore staple 40 More Reasons To Hate Us, which famously included a grind version of the Three’s Company theme. Putnam’s antics are nearly as well known; his feud with Cannibal Corpse and Six Feet Under vocalist Chris Barnes; his completely uncensored Twitter account (which some think is a fake) and the photo now circulating on the Internet of his wife performing oral sex on him while he shoots heroin [sorry, we’re not printing it here, go google it – Da Ed].

Putnam says a bright spot in his grim and profane life is his love for cheesy glam rock like early Motley Crue and Buckcherry. A.C.’s new album Fuckin’A might be the first cock rock album in grind history, packed with dirty party anthems like “Whiskey, Coke and Sluts.” He talked to Hellbound from A.C.’s rehearsal space in Boston, where he is staying after splitting with his wife.

Hellbound: Fuckin A’ is a straight cock rock glam album…have you always been interested in sleazy glam Sunset Strip music?

Seth Putnam: We were backstage on tour in 1996 and (guitarist) Josh Martin and I had the idea. We thought of calling the band Fuckin’A. it’s been on the back burner for like 14 years.

I saw Motley Crue in 1984 when they opened for Ozzy on the Shout At The Devil tour. And I liked the second Buckcherry album a lot. I really like the first two Motley Crue albums. During a 2001 tour, we bought the second Buckcherry album on tour and listened to it. We’d start listening to it and do a bunch of crystal meth and crank it in the van. It would get us all psyched up to go on stage. The bad songs on Buckcherry albums are really good. In Japan in 2004 we’d crank Buckcherry on headphones and were doing crystal meth the whole time. Every other album Buckcherry has done is pretty terrible. The third album has one good song. The first album isn’t that good. The Buckcherry songs I really like are “Whiskey In The Morning,” and “Ridin’.”

We’re doing a Fuckin’ A vinyl version soon and are going to include a bonus seven-inch.

It would be pretty funny if you could get Buckcherry and A.C. to do a joint tour.

It would be cool. I met (vocalist) Josh Todd once and told him how much I liked the second album.

The new album is a lot easier to listen to than old A.C. …there are actually hooks and riffs.

Two records came out of our recording session. We recorded about 40 songs. Ten were in the Fuckin’A vein and the rest were old A.C. style. We decided to split them into two. The album was originally going to be called Wearing Out Our Welcome. We decided to add the cock rock songs and make it a separate album. The other material will be out next month. That’s the same old crap…offensive lyrics and fast songs. There are always things that annoy me so I don’t write stuff just for the sake of doing it.

Some of Fuckin A’ reminded me of The Meatmen’s Rock And Roll Juggernaut and The Mentors.

Well, we weren’t trying to copy anyone else. But Josh is notorious for ripping off other bands. I try not to rip off other bands. It’s meant to be like a Motley Crue and Guns n’ Roses kind of album. The lyrics to the song “Fuckin A” are awesome. The second line is: “You say you’re 18 but you’re only 12, fuck yeah!”

We’re probably going to play a show with The Mentors out on the West Coast this year. I’m good friends with Sickie Wifebeater (guitarist Eric Carlson). I sang for his band in Seattle a few years ago.

You still used your same vocal style. Did you ever think of singing because the music is much different?

I thought about it but it’s just impossible to understand me if I sing like that. I don’t know how to sing so it’s not going to happen.

Your overdose and coma in 2004 were well-documented. How has your life changed since you went through that and were hospitalized or has your life changed at all?

I woke up from the coma and couldn’t move any part of my body for a long time. I couldn’t walk straight. When I was in the hospital the doctors figured out that I was depressed and they should put me on anti-depressants. So it might be the best thing that ever happened to me because I’m not always depressed anymore and don’t want to kill myself all the time. Right now, I’m on Celexa. They originally put me on Prozac and then they switched me to Celexa.

What difference did you notice in your life? You weren’t as self-destructive?

Well, when I woke up and couldn’t feel any part of my body I thought “well, I’ll just get better soon.” I had the determination to learn how to walk again. My right hand was kind of like a claw when I came out (of the coma ). I couldn’t even hold a fork. I had to re-learn how to do everything. I had to re-learn every fucking thing from birth, basically. But I was still alive and was confident.

I wrote a song called “You’re In a Coma,” before I had a coma. The first time I performed it live was after I got out of a coma. I was psyched to announce it was the first time we performed the song. I was in a chair throughout the show because I couldn’t stand. A lot of people were impressed that I pulled it off. I think it was June 2005. We opened for our friends Eyehategod.

At this point Putnam’s cell phone dies. We resume the conversation about 10 minutes later…

Photo courtesy of Aaron @ returntothepit

Now that you are taking anti-depressants have you quit doing drugs or drinking?

Nope. I can’t party like I did before the coma because I can’t handle it. But I still do a lot. I can still probably out-drink or out-drug the average person. But I don’t do as much. So it might be a shot of heroin or a shot of cocaine or a shot of liquor or a drink of liquor. Anything possible.

After you came out of the coma and started to recover did you ever consider changing your life? That wasn’t destined to be?

The minute I woke up I asked my girlfriend to go to the liquor store. She wouldn’t go and I was like “stop being a cunt and go to the liquor store.” So I said “get me out of bed” and I’ll go and I realized I couldn’t move any part of my body. After being in the hospital my friend took me in a wheelchair to a bar. I had a bunch of drinks. The coolest day after that was when I smoked a bunch of crack. It was the first time I’d done crack in almost a year.

If you hear from people that say you’re nuts or stupid to continue drugs and drinking after what happened how do you respond?

Well, when I first got out I was wicked heavy into it again. Now, I’m more in control of myself. I went into this thing called harm reduction management. We learned to not get totally wasted all the time. I think I’ve figured out how to keep control of myself which I wasn’t able to do before the coma.

Do friends worry that you’ll end up like a G.G. Allin (who died from an overdose) and that the next time you might not be as lucky?

Half of my friends do drugs and half of my friends are straight-edge. My straight-edge friends understand what I’m about. They worry about me but they understand I’m going to do what I’m going to do. This time I know how to control myself so I don’t OD. I’m not going to put myself in that position because I don’t want my body to get fucked up again.

Was it true that you performed recently in a gay bar?

My friend’s band Nasty Disaster played this gay bar. They are a heavy metal band. Their guitarist used to be in A.C. We played Twisted Sister’s “You Can’t Stop Rock and Roll.” I’ve been to gay bars many times and it’s no big deal. It was just a show and it didn’t mean anything to me. I’ve been going to gay bars since the 80s. I don’t care.

So none of these friends take umbrage when they hear any of your songs?

Well, I recently went to a Gay Pride parade with my friend Gay Keith. We’ve called him Gay Keith for so many years that he goes by it now. It’s his name on MySpace. We did a European tour called “All Our Fans Are Gay,” and had “I’m Gay” printed on shirts in big letters. Keith is gay and half-Jewish and I don’t give a fuck. He’s a good friend and I don’t care. So many people say I’m anti-this and anti-that. They read my lyrics and assume they know everything about me.

Are you unhappy or are you enjoying your life?

My life before 2004 was miserable. I was depressed and wanted to die. It might sound kind of gay but that was my life. I don’t want to die anymore.

Photo courtesy Aaron @ returntothepit

One of your other projects was the joke black metal band Impaled Northern Moonforest. Are you bummed out that black metal has become as popular as it is?

I don’t pay attention to music made after 1985 so I don’t have an idea about the black metal scene. We just made that band up out of sheer boredom. Acoustic black metal is retarded; it just doesn’t make any sense. We did it just because we were bored and it somehow became huge. We played in Japan, Colorado and Massachusetts. On New Year’s Eve a few years ago it was snowing and people shoveled a bunch of snow on stage. People kept throwing snow on the stage until it was literally grim and frosted.

Scott Hull was one of your earliest guitar players…have you followed his career since with ANB and Pig Destroyer?

We toured with Napalm Death, Nasum and Pig Destroyer in 2004. We all got along. If I saw him now we’d still be pals. I just had a problem with him in the band. We had a tour coming with Eyehategod and he didn’t want to tour. He basically didn’t want to tour and I had six months of tours set up. Josh Martin and I handled the band after that.

Your friend John McCarthy from Post Mortem passed away a few years ago…were you surprised he died and you are still around despite what you’ve done?

He was getting an SSI cheque and getting drunk on Listerine and shit like that. But I was a surprised when he died. The strangest thing was that he was a grandfather at age 40. Even when he first had a kid I thought it was strange. He was one of my best friends of all time. I could say bad things about him but I won’t because the good times outweigh the bad.

In 2008, we played a show in California with Anal Blast and The Meat Shits. People were taking bets if I would die first or Don Decker from Anal Blast. Don died like a year later.

When you die what’s going to be your tombstone?

I have no idea. It depends on who writes it. Hopefully, it won’t be somebody gay.

Fuckin A was released on January 11 on PATAC Records.

Sean Palmerston

Sean is the founder/publisher of Hellbound.ca; he has also written about metal for Exclaim!, Metal Maniacs, Roadburn, Unrestrained! and Vice.