A Weaponized Mind: A Conversation with Will Putney of Fit For An Autopsy

Learning from the multifaceted songwriter, producer, and instrumental workhorse.

Words by Jake Sanders (@themetalscholar):


Sliding into the tail-end of 2021, the world battled the duality of safety versus sanity, playing a heart-wrenching game of, "Is this when live music returns?" The results are a mixed bag of yes and no, forcing some musicians to grapple with the every day torture of wondering if they'll be able to jump back into the spotlight. One such musician who has risen above the challenge is Will Putney: the driving studio force, the production kingpin, and the scene veteran behind Fit For An Autopsy, END, and so many damn credits behind the console that it would be faster to find something he hasn't had his hands in.


Today, Fit For An Autopsy comes out of the shadows with the follow up to 2019's The Sea of Tragic Beasts via Nuclear Blast Records. This new album captures everything from bumblebee triplets, to top of the drumkit intricacy, to bends that sound like a phantom, and even some of that classic artillery sound that brought their sound to life so many years ago. Titled, Oh What The Future Holds, it's as much a promise as it is a valid threat.


Right before Christmas, I met virtually with Will, who couldn't have been more stoked to talk shop, the logistics of industry workings, the clarity of an artist who has navigated nearly a decade and a half in the field, as well as the real troubles that infest the minds of the many during times of plague, and heartbreak:

 

Thank you for joining me here! Years ago I started listening to deathcore and I just couldn't get into it to save my life. It was something that felt inaccessible, for me. 2017 rolled around and I saw an upcoming tour for Trivium with Fit For An Autopsy. Well, we're right up at the edge of the rail. The show starts — and, even before it begins — I can feel those drum beats kicking like a machine gun and I now know something very, very, dangerous is coming. That was an incredible show.

Will: *Laughs* That's awesome.

I have not seen an opener like that in some time. To hear "Iron Moon" and see "Black Mammoth" played live, it was a conversion. When the show was over I looked at my friend and I'm like, "Merch booth?" He agreed.

That is awesome. Happy you dig it! Happy to convert people on the fence with the genre, for sure. We've done a good job at living in between the worlds of heavy music, so if you like angry, aggressive stuff, there's something in our band for you.
fit for an autopsy
Cover Artwork by Adam Burke

You're the owner of the fence. It has been twenty-one months since the beginning of the worldwide pandemic, and although the touring world is in limbo, playing sort of a "red light, green light" with tour cancellations and re-schedule, the world of studio production has never been busier. How has it affected you and your band-mates personally?

Yeah — I've been really busy in the studio. Everybody in the world decided to make a record, which is cool, definitely not complaining about it. I'm fortunate to be in a position where we didn't really slow down much during the pandemic, other than not being able to work with some international artists we had scheduled. I did have like a really busy year and a half here, for sure.
The band rode the storm pretty well; luckily, there are guys in my band that have their hobbies, passions, and side things that have turned into careers. Joe's a barber, Pat's a tattoo artist, so they were able to lean into what they normally do when they're home and make it more of a full-time thing. We generally did okay. Obviously, having a tour canceled on the first day of the tour was a pretty big hit off that bat, for the band. That was what happened in March, of 2020. We were able to get back on our feet and make a record that we're pretty proud of.
I'd say that other than just being extremely anxious to get back on tour, everyone seems to be doing pretty good in my camp.

That's good. I know it was weird; everyone has gone through a strange transformative stage over the past year. Right around that same point, I was counting the amount of bands that I see EVERY YEAR on tour. I can count on them. How bad is this gonna affect 'em? I see Joe moved to Arizona. I was like, "he'll be fine, they always need haircuts, right?"

Yeah, he set up a shop near the Nile's venue in Mesa with some other buddies in bands. It's been good. We try to think for ourselves; we're never the type of band to have to ask for help. If we don't really need it — we try to solve our own problems, and I feel like everyone in the band was just able to do... that, over the pandemic.

You don't think you can really just be a creative, but some people fail to realize how much being in a band is like being in a business as well, or at least, trying to manage one.

Yeah, we treat the band as an outlet, for us. The business side of it — it doesn't really play into what we do, what decisions we make — we're fortunate now where we can tour on somewhat of a level where the guys can support themselves, and pay their bills. That's a huge advantage. We've kind of set ourselves up knowing that this isn't the type of world where you become "rich and successful".

*laughs* Yeah.

We're just aware of what the band is and what we are. Stay organized, and set up, so we can just continue to do it.

For you personally, being both the creative powerhouse and a producer with an extensive catalogue comes with both the discipline to keep songwriting flowing and maintaining a positive working relationship with your community. What's a useful networking tip, that is tried and true, for you?

Useful networking tip? Don't be a dick! *laughs*
There are a lot of people on the industry side of this world that I don't particularly care for, because they didn't really come from this world — I feel they approach music more as a commodity than a creative outlet, or a passionate thing. It sort of interferes with good dealings, from time to time. I've learned to align myself with people who are like-minded, and who share a common goal to just elevate. I try to steer clear of working people who don't feel that way or act that way.

I saw an interesting thread a while back where Ben from Khemmis was talking to someone. They said, "There's no money in this, I don't know why I do this. It's a huge waste of time." His response was, "To be a professional in this, you have to have a humor about doing it, and not complaining when you're not bringing home money at the end of the day." It's extreme budgeting, not a lot of good return on it, and keeping positive relations open with people, just not being a prima donna about it. The guy took it personally — but that IS the reality of it.

Yeah, I'd be in the pop world if I cared about that. We like what we like, and do what we do, and we know that it comes with financial consequences from time to time, but it's a means to an end, to do what you're passionate about.

Very much so. Moving on here, that "In Shadows" music video that just recently released: it's got a lot of that imagery in there that feels reminiscent of that early 2000's, almost nu-metal scene. I'm here for it. Drawing visual cues from Deftones, early Marilyn Manson, Static-X, Powerman 5000, it kind of feels like a pure nostalgia trip that I really enjoyed. Maybe even a little of that Natural Born Killers energy, from a cinematic perspective. Who had the creative touch on that?

A lot of my favorite videos are from that era, and I guess we've never really done just a performance video. We've done several videos. We've probably done more videos that we're NOT in, than videos that we're in. We had a lot of videos on this cycle; there's still more to come! I was like, "It would be fun just to do one like that." Just a song that we're excited to play live, as a band.

Eric Richter — who's the director, we kind of conceptualized how we could build this little room out of the lights, and LED walls, and stuff. It just came together really easy. It was just a fun one to make. It was just a band hanging out, having fun, playing the song. Not too worried about the story, or the details, the cast, and the actors, all the baggage that comes with making our typical music video. That one was a bit of an easier mountain to climb, and fun to make.

I believe it. Y'all put a lot of effort into your music videos. Especially the last one that came out, I believe you had Patrick's kid in there? That was really cool to see.

That was more in-line with what we normally do. We go a little more visual with the narrative, and we're in and out of that video, but it's more of a timeline story we build around the characters. We direct a message at people. We needed a variety of cast for that one.
Pat's son, Preston, was just great. Fun, and easy to work with. He did great! We were joking that this video was gonna scar him!

*laughs* Poor dude.

He's cool. He's old enough, and mature enough. He knows it's all fiction, and we're all having fun. It was great to get all of those little details put into that video, and he did a great job coming through for us.

There's an art to the music video that people seem to have forgotten in the past decade, so I'm glad you guys are carrying the torch for that.

Yeah, I want the visual representation of the band to be in-line with what we do, and I feel the detail and the work you put into those are just as important.

Speaking of videos you're not really in, in 2017, your video for "Black Mammoth" premiered the week before the release of "The Great Collapse", a damning examination of environmental disasters brought on by negligence from oil companies attempting to shield the public from their mistakes. Your stance has always been sort of clear, on that sort of impact. I agree with you, but what about the world around you? Have you begun to notice any momentum towards environmental protection, conservation, protection of native lands from monetary interests, recently?

There's always these kinds of empty promises. I feel like the core of the problem to what's going on with the destruction of our environment lies in the hands of privatized corporate energies that control all the products that go into the world.
I see this shift over the last few years, how the responsibility has sort of fallen on the end-user. YOU have to recycle. YOU have to buy this kind of product. YOU have to do this. What if you just stop making a plastic bottle? Or what if you actually moved your company to sustainable energy? Or used recyclables in your manufacturing? A lot of this blame game where they've tricked us into thinking it's become our fault, when really it's their responsibility.
These are the companies to rake in billions of dollars, and these are the people who should be held accountable for what's happening to the world. It's a shame to see that they're not held responsible for their actions. I think a lot of that has to do with where money flows, and how these companies are tied into the governments of the world. It's not some revelation that's new to anybody, and it doesn't seem like it's going anywhere. So, I don't know; I'm not super positive about the direction of all that, and I think there would have to be major changes on the industry level, and the political level, to get anything done.

I'm not very positive about it, either. You see — they're starting to buy more media as time goes on. They have these spin-stories, where it's like, "Don't worry: we have ways to combat climate change!" I saw one just the other day, where there's this small, square architecture with a set of cacti coming out of the wall. They're like, "Don't worry! This will absorb carbon coming in from the atmosphere!" In reality, you would need thirty-one million of them to take out even a fraction of what we're putting out, or what the one-hundred companies doing the most damage are. It does feel like a hollow promise. They're like, "We're trying to be better by 2050... by 2070... by 2090... by your death?"

Yeah, I think we're definitely on a clock now. We're probably already past the point of not doing irreparable damage in most scenarios. I was a guy with a science background before I got into music, so I'm aware of the facts that lay behind these scientists, and the research that goes into drawing the conclusions about the trouble that we're in. It is a bit alarming that these empty promises are just accepted, and things go unchanged, and every year that ticks by is a year closer to having some real problems in our lifetime.

Mind if I ask what you did in the STEM field?

I was almost a biomedical engineer.

Holy shit.

Only at the very end of my studies did I wind up switching gears and getting into music.

That is too cool, man. Didn't know that.

A lot of people don't. I didn't really see music as a career. For me it was always a hobby, and something I was passionate about doing, but it was my thing to do for fun. I walked into a studio one day, and figured out, "Maybe I could do this," and that was kind of it.

I think we're more fortunate for that one! I have a friend up in Alaska who is in the climate science field. He sets up and repairs surveillance equipment to track carbon in the atmosphere. He's become more and more depressed from it over the past few years.

Yeeeeaaah. I don't envy the people who try to make a difference in the world and are ignored. It's definitely frustrating.

Especially when you're trying to gamble on federal grants that are worth pennies to what you're doing. It is upsetting. With so many modern pioneers of the metalcore scene as your influence, it would seem nearly impossible to escape that realm of inspiration. One example that comes to mind, on "The Sea of Tragic Beasts", there's a climactic build at the end of "Your Pain Is Mine" that reads much like an Unearth build, to me. I know that you're an Unearth fan, but who else has made an appearance in your sound formula over the years?

I am an Unearth fan. I don't believe I was thinkin' Unearth when I wrote that part. Maybe it crept in — but I guess "talking over a build-up" was something they did first, so maybe it's subconsciously came from them. Nah, we love those guys. We've definitely spent time on the road with them, too. They're great dudes, I work with them in the studio too.
The song came more from — we draw our influences from a lot of places. There's a few collective things that I think the band can all agree on. Generally, we have pretty different taste in music. Nowadays when I sit down to write records, I don't even really think about what else is out there, or what I listen to. I just go from the gut on certain things, and what comes out is what comes out.
A large number of us grew up in local scenes on the east coast, in the hardcore world. Found death metal at an early age, and the whole Swedish, Gothenburg style explosion that happened — obviously we draw from that. It's a little all over the place. We've been inspired by lots of bands in lots of different genres.
Cover Artwork by Adam Burke

It's hard not to. You see these emotional builds that are created in this formula. The longer that Fit For An Autopsy goes on, the more melodic that it sort of becomes, and I'm not gonna lie — I'm really enjoying that. Whenever someone is like, "I can't really get into deathcore," I'm like "YES YOU CAN — watch this." It's an easy sell for me. Showing off the 'Shepherd' video where Joe's in the box and it's filling up with blood; that's the great converter for others.

I think nowadays I hear less of a deathcore style come out of our band than other genres at this point. We've mixed it up so much over the past few records that that world feels a little more distant to me. Obviously there's a lot of cool, new, modern deathcore bands. Where that genre has gone has definitely brought for some talented artists and musicians, but we don't really sound much like what that is, anymore. To me, we sort of exist in a different space. It's where we came from when the band started, but I don't feel very attached to it musically, with the direction of the band.

That's fair, honestly. With how far you guys have come, it's to be expected. I don't think anybody would've guessed Rivers of Nihil would end up where they are. After so many years of playing this progressive death metal, they've dropped a little bit off that death metal edge, cut it away. They're developing this strange sense of prog ownership, but once again — I'm here for that!

Yeeeeah, Rivers is great. The nods to the classic rock stuff that they like, and the pretty obvious Pink Floyd influences, and things like that are a refreshing take on that genre, for me too. That's cool to see. Other bands that we get with like taking risks, and trying other things, and playing to their influences in cool ways.

It's hard to argue with that. You're more likely to create something that you enjoy when it's based off another thing you enjoy. That sort of homage to what you're already creating, and when people catch that from you, they kind of go, "Ahhh, same page."

I think with any band, the things you're most passionate about are the things that are probably gonna come out the best when you write. It's nice to see people just owning what they dig, and using that as tools to make music for their own projects.

Speaking of all those projects, especially your timeline — from 'The Depression Sessions' to livestreaming with the Trivium guys — Fit For An Autopsy feels like it has developed into a community band, sort of, where everyone knows you or wants to work with you, or has already broken bread with you on another project. Especially you — your hands are everywhere. Does the scene feel more about camaraderie, and community now, than it did ten years ago? And is metal having a brotherhood breakthrough for bands who just don't feel like trying to compete with one another anymore?

I think we all wanna see everybody do well. Even if it's a band I don't love musically, we try to be supportive of stuff that is going in the right direction for the genre as a whole. For me, anytime a band can break out and do well, I think it does help the other bands, because it opens up opportunities, and doors for more people to discover your music, and your peers' music. In my head, I've always seen it as a positive. As long as somebody is doing well, it kind of ups the odds that everybody can do well. We always try to take out bands that are younger, up-and-coming, that are cool people. We do our best to shine light on stuff that's worth hearing!

I dig that. You're not gonna get rich anymore, not many people ever do it. So to try and do it and make a good experience out of it, at least make the American community feel a little bit more like the European one where people sort of take care of them, it's something the U.S. needs, so you guys are doing a little bit of a service that a lot of these smaller bands just don't get.

I think everybody gets it, when you're put in different positions. Throughout our career we've basically been self-managed, self-contained. We're a bit on an island, in a sense, when it comes to the music industry and what makes the wheels turn. We've always gone a little out of our way to try and put up younger bands. I think generally, everyone who is in this world is doing the same thing. Everyone's excited and wants to get their music out there. I think people tend to forget that we're all kind of in it together, anyways. You might as well just work together.

The competitive part of it has fallen by the wayside. I'm kind of glad, it just builds ego trips that don't need to be there, especially not in that scene. With the epic return to the stage coming on January 5th, I believe, there's quite a bit of anticipation. With tours still getting canceled and postponed, it's not really a surprise that people are glued to their screens, trying to make sure that nothing happens before they get to see you guys back in action. With people discovering more, and more, the mental health benefits of live music outings — do you believe in a form of concert, or show therapy?

I think live music is really important. I think the connection to music that people have is best executed that way, most of the time. We're getting closer to a point in America, where, if people are vaccinated, they should be able to make their own decisions about if they want to go to shows, or concerts. I'm assuming we're not gonna see mega shutdowns here, again. I just think the climate of our country isn't gonna allow it.
I think people just want to get back there, and return to some sense of normal in their lives, and live music is a big part of that for a lot of people. So, we intend on playing as much as we can, as long as we're allowed to.

It's hard. It feels very "red light, green light." There's some bands who have started three tours — canceled three tours. I can imagine it would get kind of frustrating after a while. What do you do, but laugh it off, right?

We've probably canceled seven tours now. A bunch of stuff that hasn't even been announced. Just sitting on tours in regions all over the world that I can't announce yet, and everything's always up in the air, at this point. The best thing we can do is get stuff on the books, and hope that the shows stick, and figure it out as it comes.

It's a good attitude to have about it. I don't have the discipline for that; I take failures too personally, so trying to do something like that — I'm just not cut out for the band life. *laughs* I'm not hard enough.

It was very frustrating, at first. We just realized, this is just what everyone is dealing with, so there's no way around it anymore. Just gotta roll with it.
Poster Artwork by Adam Burke

2019's 'The Sea of Tragic Beasts', featured a new melodic showstopper that we were just talking about. It was a progressive far-cry from its 2017 predecessor. Especially, Warfare, Mirrors, and Napalm Dreams. They are all dramatically different directions from previous endeavors that you've taken. They weren't just laid in as filler. A lot of times, bands stack fillers in between to be like, "Here's the singles." On 'TSoTB', you can count down to what you're looking forward to, and find that sort of sound, regardless of where it's at on the album. They stood out from the composition, and broke up the pace. They set some real benchmarks in between that make the album a standout choice, in your catalogue. But, is a progressive Fit for an Autopsy ... 'What the Future Holds', per say?

*laughs* Ooooh, nice! I think we're just gonna continue to mix up what we do. I think the new record has a lot of elements that were on the last record, it also has stuff we've never done before, which is cool. There's aggressive songs, longer songs, proggier stuff, but there's also some straight forward brutal stuff. We don't plan these things.
I know it seems like it's more calculated than it probably is, but it's just what comes out when I go to write music. Aside from wanting to check a few boxes as far as moods, and vibes, and stuff. When I start writing, I don't really lay out what it's going to be, until it's done. I try to write a bunch of music, and sift through what's gonna work for the band, and what isn't. There is no real pre-determined agenda with these kinds of records. I don't like living in a box, when I go to write music for the band. I just want to see what happens, and have fun with it. To me, that's the fun part of creating music. Not knowing where it's going to end up. Obviously, if you like the band, we're still going to continue to do the things you like, if that's what comes out of our brain. I would expect that we just switch it up frequently, from record to record, because that's what keeps in interesting for us too.

I like that. It's the Slayer mentality of "Reign in Blood". There was nothing special there. That was just the next ten songs.

Yeah. I don't write like I want a single, or need a certain kind of song. I think we just go for what we're into at the time, and that's gonna change over time too. I would expect that every Fit record has something new, and different, for the band.

It does. Over the past year, we've seen a lot of results come up from people taking advantage of Bandcamp Friday's new program, and they're able to achieve some sales or at least bolster their sales that way they can protect themselves while the touring drought is still occurring. But for you personally, has Bandcamp Friday helped? Has it produced any results or at least gotten the band out to more people?

Bandcamp is definitely a useful tool for a lot of bands. We put a lot of our own stock this year in our own store, which helped after these tours were canceled. We were left holding the bag with all these crazy merch bills. We had all these piles of merch. We launched our own store, and site, which lets us be a little more involved. We can see what's happening, and what's going in and out.
That's been the online tool we've used, which has been pretty successful, for us. We were able to clear all of those, and stay out of debt, and have a little money for the band. That's been the driving force for us, online, lately. I can definitely appreciate what Bandcamp does, though. I know it's been pretty awesome for a lot of other bands, especially artists who self-release, and labels that rely on Bandcamp's direct sales. That thing has been a godsend to a lot of people.

Speaking of your website: THANK YOU for including the minimalism in there. Every time I go to a webpage like Iron Maiden's, or Metallica's, it's full of just millions of tiny drop-down menus to things that don't stay open, and they're really annoying. So it feels good to get on Fit for an Autopsy's page and see, "Image, banner, banner, clickables, not a million menus." Y'all did a website right. It's one of my small gripes, so going onto the Fit website just feels good. Not even to shop sometimes. Just to see how a website should run.

*laughs* I'm not trying to bother people. Here are things. Here's our information. You can listen to music. Watch videos. Get tour dates. Buy merch. All of the things you need, with none of the shit you don't. Try to keep it simple for people.

So, being in a band often comes with developing those skills for a small business owner. With that, comes the responsibility of dealing with manufacturing plants, and distributors, but what kind of merchandise-based business lessons do you wish you would've known when you started?

A little while ago, we realized we should make things that our fans want. I think that helped us a lot. Obviously, guys in my band are getting older. We're not the eighteen year old kids at the show anymore. Some of us have kids. There's a guy over forty. We're getting old.
Are we out of touch? No. But if we're going to buy a t-shirt, do we design a t-shirt that we would wear, or that people who like our band would want to wear? We sort of pivoted a while ago, and balanced what we were doing with merchandise. "Let's just make things that the people who like our band would want." It has actually helped us pretty steadily over the past couple years, as we've integrated more things like that. Obviously we have to like this stuff, but am I gonna wear this shirt to mom's house for Christmas? I don't know — maybe not. But the people who like our band might, and they like the shirt! So we've definitely tried to make things that we think the people who like our band... want.
It sounds like a simple concept, but we took some of our personal aesthetic clothing tastes out of some of the decisions. It's worked really, really well for us. There's a balance of wanting to have things that you're proud of, and that you like, and also knowing "Hey, I might not wear that t-shirt, but I know the kids who like my band are gonna like this." You meet in the middle, and it's really helped the business side of things, driving some merch sales.

That "making what your fans want" thing is something I think a few people are starting to catch on to, but not all of 'em. Taking a look at your site, there's a plethora of colors to choose from and different images and designs, and you've taken from certain songs and anthropomorphized that image onto somewhere. People can just go, "I love that." I immediately attached onto 'Birds of Prey' because of that beautiful solo at the end, but to get a shirt of it? The image meets the song. It's beautiful.

I like the idea of the visuals. I feel it's important that they tie into the music the right way. Connecting what we're saying, and what the music is about, to the content of the merch that we make. It's important. We even didn't have that kind of sense in the beginning, but I think hopefully, now that we've had a chance to find artists that we really like, we've had a pretty good run lately, of really nailing some of that stuff.

Definitely. That merch game, especially in the pandemic, has just jumped. People are realizing that some of the things that people want are different colors, so maybe not an all-black ensemble in their closet? Different clothing, athleisure stuff, leggings are starting to come out more rampantly. Different hat options? I think Municipal Waste has sort of taken the painter's cap with them. It's starting to become not really just merch, anymore. This is a sort of lifestyle clothing, which I respect.

We don't really do what fashion-y brands do, by any means. I just think it's something the band's not really interested in. We don't really like flying the flag, or putting it out there like a clothing company, but it works for certain bands. I think our stuff lives on the darker side, and plays into the music that we make. For us, it just makes sense with the style we have, to continue doing what we're doing.

Very much. Humor me here, got a few fun questions, and I think you'll appreciate this. I have taken notice of the fact that you, like many others, are the proud papa of a pit bull, at home. Is the myth of the killer pit bull true, or is caring for a pit bull any different from any other breed of dog?

Naw, it's the opposite of true. All dogs are reflections of their owners. A shitty owner makes a shitty dog, at the end of the day. Pit bulls as a breed are generally really sweet, and loving dogs. My dog is a giant baby. Pat, from the band, has several of 'em too. They're all babies. They're products of their upbringing, just like kids are. If you have a shitty kid, it's probably because you're a shitty parent.
It's a misconception that these dogs are inherently bad. They're actually quite sweet, and wonderful dogs. They don't show up in statistics as being the most aggressive dogs, ever. Your neighborhood poodle has a tendency to be more brutal than a pit bull. They're not bad dogs — they're great pets. I've had three in my life, and never had an issue with a person. It's all how you raise 'em, and how you train them, and treat them.

Exactly. You see weird things on the internet. There's an entire subreddit dedicated to trying to ban pit bulls. They have their own pseudo-statistics to go along with it, and terrible horror stories. It almost always stems from a horror story. It feels like they've never gotten a chance to meet a pit bull who is babied and spoiled and sweet as candy.

What makes the headlines, and what's true in reality, are two very different things.

Yes. This year is a monumental year, because 'Jane Doe' by Converge has turned twenty. I know that you're a fan, and have drunk deep from the well. What does that album mean to you, as a professional, and as a fan?

'Jane Doe' is a great record, definitely one of my favorite Converge records. It sits as one of my all-times, for sure. When that record came out, it was an introduction to me to the more artistic side of hardcore, and how to use grind influences, and pull from outside areas, other than just a standard hardcore band, in a really cool way. When that record came out, it was definitely a really important one for me, and over time it still holds up. It's just an awesome record. Always been a fan of that band, and their evolution, as well. The fact that it's twenty years old already is crazy. Definitely makes me feel old. It's a special record, for a lot of people.

Moving on to another industry question here — can you ever recall a time that you were starstruck with any of the people that you've worked with, and did it end up being a positive or negative experience for you?

T: I don't know if I'm ever really starstruck. There are definitely artists that can be intimidating, the first time you meet them. I'm not a guy who gets very starstruck, even if I'm in a room with some top tier celebrity folk. At the end of the day, people are just people. Few and far between from me. There are definitely artists I will punish, when I meet them. Whenever I see Stephen Brodsky, I always sort of punish him. It's become like a running joke; when I see that guy, I have to compliment him, and tell him how much I love Cave In. I just do it out of principle, because the man's earned it. It's not necessarily starstruck — it's more that I can appreciate people who are important for creating music that affects me, but I never lose the wits.

Fair enough. Not even for Ice-T and Body Count? that one would've been difficult.

Noooo, Ice-T is such a normal, cool guy, in reality. Any sort of stigma about meeting an A-list style celebrity sort of goes away once you talk to him, because he's such a down-to-earth person. I'm sure all celebrities aren't like that, but he's definitely just a normal, very cool, easy to communicate with guy. He's approachable in a way, that I'm sure many of them are, but he's one of the good ones.

That's good to hear. I've always heard good things about the guy. My last two questions here are tradition. I love to ask 'em, just because I love to see the range of answers I get for this. What are you listening to currently? What's your album of the year? What has gotten you through the pandemic and kept you sane?

Currently listening to? What do we got... hmm. I'm pretty big on the new Cult of Luna stuff, I know there's been a couple songs released. There's this band, I hope I'm saying in right. It's just letters: LLNN. They have this record called 'Unmaker'. Very, very cool.
What else came out this year, that I like? Oooh, liked that new Mastodon a lot. That's been in rotation. I don't know — I'm kind of in between right now. Been bouncing around genres, trying to find new stuff. Lately, I've been making so much music I haven't had a lot of leisure time to jam on stuff. Happy if anyone reading wants to shoot me some suggestions! But lately, it's been a lot of the records that I know very well. So happy to hear it change-up.

And lastly, my favorite: Does suffering breed great art? Or is suffering just an effect of our daily trauma?

Probably both. *laughs*
I'm sure it breeds great art. It doesn't always, but it definitely has, and it's also definitely an effect of daily trauma. You take the good with the bad, but I do think we're definitely here to suffer for a while. You learn a lot from suffering, and how you channel that is the type of person you become.

It's a Sisyphean task. You start with something simple and easy, and pure, and by the time you get to the end of it, it's probably taken a little bit of yourself too.

People ride the storm differently.

Will, on behalf of Heaviest of Art, thank you for taking the time for me, man. If we're talking gushing or punishing you right now, there is something special about the last seven to eight years, where you've developed this new culture around yourselves, where no one can do what you do. Don't stop — it's all I can say.

That's very flattering, I appreciate that. I don't think we're stopping anytime soon, so there's plenty more to come.
 

Oh What The Future Holds is available now via Nuclear Blast Records. Order it HERE.

Cover Artwork by Adam Burke