If you’re in a hardcore or metal band, the name WIll Putney probably means something to you. Having produced bands like Amity Affliction, Stray from the Path and Counterparts, as well as his own band, Fit For An Autopsy, he knows his way around music on both sides of a mixing board. Recently, he announced his own label, Graphic Nature, an imprint of Equal Vision Records. With his first signing, Night Verses, in the studio with Ross Robinson, we caught up with Putney about what led him to start a label, what he’s looking for in a signing, and if he’d ever sign his own band.
As someone that’s both seen a lot of labels come and go and is also a recording artist, what led you to start a label?
I had recorded a lot of bands in different genres, and I had seen how deprioritized bands that are a little off from the center are sometimes. There’s definitely more restrictions and guidelines that their music has to follow in order for it to get a record deal or get a real budget to make a record, or have that push. So I wanted to try to create something where bands who are a little left of center have a place where they can still make cool records. We can get them with good producers, we can still work it through a proper channel with Equal Vision, but it’s a little more realistic and practical for the bands to be able to get this stuff done without having a label take a big risk on them. That’s been the problem with some of the labels that I work with, I can see that they’re afraid to take risks with bands that are a little different, because it’s a tight finance game and everyone’s a bit worried about the end game. I tried to solve that problem with this label.
How long had you thought about actually starting a label?
I had talked about it as a joke. When I was a kid I had a record label, so it’s definitely something I always liked to do. It flopped horribly because I had no idea what I was doing. It was always something I was interested in, and then I got heavy into music production. I was an intern at The Syndicate – I thought I was going to be in the music business ten years ago. Then I got into the studio side of it and that kind of went away, but this opportunity presented itself and the right band came along and I figured it would be a good time to do it. So we’ve been brewing on it for about a year.
Me and Dan [Sandshaw] from Equal Vision. It’s something we’ve been talking about for about a year and we finally had the right band and felt like the timing was good so we went for it.
Was there any talk of other labels or was it just Equal Vision from the get-go?
Dan is the guy I really wanted to do it with. I probably could have had that conversation with a few other people and I would have been happy working with them too. But I like Dan, I like what he stands for, I like how he treats his bands, we have a good friendship, we like working together. His ideas for what I could do were really aligned so he was the first guy I talked to about and I never even went anywhere else with it.
What led you to work with Night Verses?
They’re just sick, they’re one of my favorite bands. I’ve seen them live a couple times now, and they always kill it. I have a lot of trouble finding bands that I like, honestly. I do a lot of metal stuff, I’m not so into listening to metal in my free time anymore, and expanding my palette. A lot of the younger, up-and-coming, unsigned bands, they don’t have it together, I’m not jamming them. I don’t love a lot of stuff, you know? And these guys have been around for a while, but the label they were on fell apart, the timing was right, they were free agents and I knew if I didn’t sign them somebody else would. So, I got a bit lucky in a way and I just connected with the band and hit it off so it was pretty obviously easy.
What led you to sending them into the studio with Ross Robinson, is that something you put together?
Ross was interested in the band. I think he had produced their friends’ band, Norma Jean, and they had maybe showed them Night Versus or they were on tour together or something. We knew he had taken a liking to the band and we thought he would be a good producer for that band. He kind of fits the vibe that they wanted to achieve with the record too, so instead of me doing it we said “why don’t we go look at Ross?” And he was into it so it worked out.
Do you think that you’re going to be producing many of the bands on your label?
I probably will, because if it’s something I really lik,e I’m really going to want to do it. Also, I can work deals with bands where I can get money in their pocket first instead of them having to pay a producer. I’ll just invest my time into the bands by helping them make records.
It would help you too I guess.
Yeah, I mean it’s going to be more passion projects for me because I’m not going to get paid a crazy rate or anything, but it’s something that I’m going to have a lot of fun doing. And that’s totally cool. Yeah, I’m going to mix Night Verses when it’s done with Ross but for the meantime that was a really good fit for them so it made sense.
Do you have a type of artist that you’re going to want to sign? Looking forward, are you going to take on all genres?
I’m not opposed to anything. I’d entertain any band from any genre. I’m just looking for stuff that has its own identity, that’s unique, that doesn’t sound like it’s chasing another scene or trying to copy something else that was already popular. I think the whole point of the label is to avoid that more mainstream version of it.
Would you sign Fit For an Autopsy?
No, I would not. I want somebody else to yell at when things go wrong.