Sunday, June 12, 2011
Seth Putnam: Death of an underground legend
So what's actually extreme to you? I mean, we all like extreme music, right? You're on a blog about extreme music, you talk about it with your friends, you go to shows where extreme bands play- you're involved in extremity, right? Well, how extreme is it really? A lot of your 'extreme' bands get sold in record shops alongside Celine Dion. You never have to worry about your safety when you go to one of those supposedly 'extreme' shows. Hell, no one's even bothered by death and black metal anymore- they're as much a commodity as any other previously underground genre of music. Your fake rebellion is getting repackaged and sold back to you by wealthy people who've never even been to a show where extreme bands played.
At an Anal Cunt show, all of that bullshit got turned over and dropped on its head like an unhappy father with a screaming baby in his arms. At an Anal Cunt show, there was just as much chance of you having a good time as there was you getting the shit beaten out of you by one or more staggering drunks in the crowd or on stage. The threat and the extremity was very real; songs composed of either blasting, frantic noise or some of the most devastating, hard-bitten power violence you've ever heard were the perfect soundtrack to the threat of getting your face kicked in by someone.
And the person typically doing the face-kicking? Seth Putnam, who died yesterday at 43. For over twenty years, Seth worked with Anal Cunt and other projects to keep the extremity in a scene that was rapidly turning into just another commodity for people to sell. The spiritual successor to GG Allin, Seth would get fucked up out of his mind on any combination of drugs and alcohol imaginable, storm on stage, and attack the audience both musically and physically with the sort of fervor nearly unimaginable in a world where Amon Amarth sells bobbleheads and Manowar has condoms emblazoned with their logo. Never compromising, never letting the fans down, and never giving up no matter how hated they were (no, thriving on the negative energy,) Seth Putnam didn't give a fuck about anything in the world apart from going further and harder than anyone else had ever gone before.
Seth obeyed zero rules in his own life or in Anal Cunt. One release might be ass-kicking punk rock, the next might be noisecore, and the one after that could be a set of acoustic tracks about respecting women- it didn't matter, because Seth realized how arbitrary and stupid everything in the world actually was. Moreover, he never apologized for anything he said, publicly spouting some of the most extreme misogyny, racism, and anti-social things that have ever been heard from an extreme musician and never once suggesting that any of them were inauthentic or worthy of being apologized for. Did Seth actually believe in what he said? It doesn't matter, and he knew it didn't matter: all that mattered was the red-hot hatred for everything that drove him in his life and music.
Seth Putnam was one of the last heroes of the true underground. He loved extreme music, extreme culture, and extreme life in a manner few of us will ever be able to understand. Extreme music has been dealt a blow with his death that will take a long while to recover from, whether you think it should or not. Tonight: get drunk, pick a fight, set something on fire, record a demo, throw up, get arrested, pass out in the street, beat your wife, go to a show, or crash your car to pay tribute to one of the last great legends of real extremity.