Layers of Aggression: An Interview with Will Putney (END)

There's more to the band's debut LP than meets the eye.


What began with the relentless The Unforgiving Arms Of God (2017) EP has now evolved to new extremes as supergroup END have upped their ante with a full fledged, full-length assault.


Splinters From An Ever-Changing Face, which arrives on June 5th via Closed Casket Activities, is an honest effort charged by the musical curiosity of musicians involved with some of metal's most trailblazing bands, including THE DILLINGER ESCAPE PLAN, COUNTERPARTS, FIT FOR AN AUTOPSY, MISERY SIGNALS and more. Despite the vast difference between each of the mentioned bands, END finds common ground between them all and bridges the gaps to form one blistering grind outing. From the opening barrage of Covet Not to the hard-hitting breakdowns of closer Sands of Sleep, Splinters From An Ever-Changing Face attacks track after track and allows very little breathing room as if anyone ever expected to relax from grind of this caliber.


We talk to END mastermind Will Putney about all things Splinters From An Ever-Changing Face:

With ‘Splinters From An Ever-Changing Face’ fast approaching, it serves as a culmination of your growth. This being the band’s debut full-length, do you feel that you have anything to prove, as if to make a definitive opening statement?


Putney: I don’t know if we have anything to prove. It’s music that we all really like to make and wanted to have fun with. It’s more of an outlet to play a style of music I never really had a chance to play. For us, it was just for fun with no real agenda, which is really how the band started and still kind of how it feels.


As you mention, END is really a result of your own passions. You of course have the freedom to take it in any direction you’d like compared to if you were working on another band’s record. That said, where did you want to take ‘Splinters From An Ever-Changing Face’ musically?


Putney: I wanted to pay tribute to all of the different influences from this genre that I grew up really being a fan of while also doing our own thing. We went into this just wanting to have fun with heavy music and do some extreme stuff. We kept that mentality through the recording process and made a record we really enjoy for ourselves.


After several listens, it’s clear this record stands as one uniform project despite each of you coming from your own respective musical background. How does this all coalesce into one without forcing it in an unnatural manner?


Putney: Everybody in the band has a pretty good grip on what the vibe and intention of the band was, so we’ve been able to really focus our input so that the other projects we are involved in know to take a discernible lane when it comes to putting this stuff together. It’s made our other bands more focused too because the things that would normally be on the fence with this kind of content are now reserved for END.


There’s definitely an inverse relationship with exploring these external musical styles. It scratches an itch you may have as a musician, which in turn impacts your work with your main band.


Putney: Exactly. The intention of each band is more defined now because we’re not trying to throw everything into one given project.


You’ve been involved with countless amounts of projects that range throughout the realms of heavy music, including Body Count and Fit For An Autopsy to name a couple. How much of this influences your work with END, if at all?


Putney: I don’t think it really does. It’s quite the opposite. Doing a lot of material in certain genres had sort of pushed me against doing a project like this. It really pushed me away from starting the project in the first place.


That’s interesting to note. How is your approach to performing on a record distinct to that of engineering or producing a record, if at all?


Putney: It’s actually pretty easy for me because I don’t have to communicate to somebody else what I want. I just know what I want in my head, so I’m surprisingly very efficient at engineering myself. I can just sit there quickly and work through the performances I want out of myself without really having to train another human. It all goes pretty smoothly.


In turning over to the visuals, the album cover highlights the different elements at play throughout the record, specifically with different images being incorporated within each line that radiates from the figure. Speaking of the album cover, what made you go with Adam Burke?


Putney: Adam is an artist I’ve worked with a lot over the years with a variety of projects. He did a great job with the last one (From The Unforgiving Arms of God, 2017) and I just knew I would get exactly what we were looking for from him. Our ideas just lined up pretty good.

Cover art by Adam Burke

Initially, we thought about trying somebody else because Adam was starting to get pretty popular and was doing a lot of covers. I quickly abandoned that idea because Adam just puts together a better version of what’s in my head. I didn’t give it much thought, we just went back to the guy who kills it for us.


Everyone would agree that you made a great decision with Adam. Visually, what were you looking for when approaching him for the cover?


Putney: The overall concept was to do several panels with different faces and include some background imagery to reference the lyrics. The vinyl is actually packaged so that what you’re seeing at the moment isn’t even the full cover. It’s a die cut jacket and all of the inserts are sliding into that. When people approach the record, we’ll get to see the extended artwork but there’s a lot going on behind the black for each image. I think it came out really cool.


That’s actually a perfect segue to my following question. From the cover art to the different die-cut layouts and vinyl variants, how important was it for you to invest in the physical release?


Putney: As you mention, there were four different variants that were released. Originally, we wanted to come up with some creative stuff to put together a package that was a little different and stood out. Closed Casket has been a great label to work with as far as pushing bands like us on what we can do in our world. We conceptualized a lot of it together and they were all on board with us going pretty full on with the packaging. It fit the title and the aesthetic of what we wanted to do, so that was really the intention for it.


The ongoing vinyl resurgence has really allowed audiences to pay a little more attention to the detail musicians set forth on the physical release. I have to ask, do you recall ever being captured by an album cover that perhaps made you pickup a record or even changed the way you engaged with it?


Putney: It happened probably more so when I was younger and a bit newer to this genre. I would go to record stores and was just drawn to the more graphic, extreme stuff that was out there. Some of the shock value death metal covers from when I was a kid kind of got my interest up for a lot of stuff. I’m talking specifically about Cannibal Corpse covers and some of the Suffocation stuff.

Cover art by Vincent Locke

On the punk side, there were some really great NOFX and Bad Religion covers. I remember a lot of the early Epitaph stuff having really cool layouts and artwork. It put a lot of bands on my radar because I thought the artistic stuff they were doing was really cool.

Cover art by Dan Sites

‘Splinters From An Ever-Changing Face’ lays the path for what should be a strong future for END. As a musician, engineer, producer and overall fan of the genre, what do you hope audiences take from the record?


Putney: I just want people to appreciate it for what it is. Fans of bands that we share influences with can find a lot that they like here. I don’t really have a lot of expectations for anybody when we make these kinds of records since it’s more about how they react to it. There’s no real intention for this other than to make some real extreme music that we really like playing. There’s no big takeaway that I want anyone to get other than maybe just find a new band that they like.


Going off of expert advice, it appears live shows aren’t in our foreseeable future, but once that resumes, what do you hope for in translating ‘Splinters’ over to the live setting?


Putney: We did want to play out more and actually started booking shows that weren’t even announced, which are obviously cancelled now. Once everything is back to normal, we do want to play out as much as possible for the record. It’ll be more of just lining up the schedules with the guys but we all made a conscious effort to carve out some time and get to places we haven’t been yet.


I’m looking forward to being able to get out there and play these songs live, so hopefully the record can tie people over until then.

Splinters From An Ever-Changing Face arrives on June 5th via Closed Casket Activities. Stream the new single Fear For Me Now below and pre-order your copy HERE.

Cover art by Adam Burke

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