The Phoenix Network:
About  |  Advertise
Moonsigns  |  Band Guide  |  Blogs  |  In Pictures
 Latest Slideshows

PBR Skateboard Pub Crawl

Girls Rock Boston Showcase at Brighton Music Hall

Soulshot, The Itals, Bushman and more at the Newport Reggae Festival

Anal Cunt's Seth Putnam dead of a heart attack at 43

SETH PUTNAM, the Newton native who set out to create music that represented the end of music, and succeeded; and who survived a 2004 drug overdose that landed him in a coma from which his doctors predicted he would not come out of, and returned to the stage less than a year later; died on Saturday morning of a heart attack. He was 43. 

Putnam's most recent publicist, Kim Kelly of Catharsis PR, confirmed Putnam's death to the metal-news site "I want to remind everyone that no matter how outrageous and controversial his musical career has been, Seth was still a human being with friends and family that loved him," she said. "I'm hoping that the Internet will remember that."

Putnam, best known as the frontman of the long-running grindcore band ANAL CUNT, was widely reviled in the metal world and elsewhere -- he delighted in being crude, abusive, and intentionally provocative. I first met Seth in 1999, around the time that Earache Records released A.C.'s It Only Gets Worse. I found him to be extraordinarily intelligent, cunning, viciously funny, and fully self-aware. But I was at a loss then, as I am now, to pinpoint where the satire of songs like "Domestic Violence Is Really, Really Funny" ended and Putnam's own deeply troubled and deeply troubling obsessions began. 

The fuzziness of that boundary was fully in evidence on the day I first interviewed Putnam back in '99, slugging back cheap liquor from paper bags out behind the Middle East. At the time, critics from SPIN and the Village Voice were just discovering Anal Cunt and suggesting that Putnam was another harmless satiric racconteur -- a teddy bear who didn't mean any of the outrageous things he said. This clearly drove Seth nuts. As I wrote back then:

Just after I interviewed Putnam last week, he and I literally bumped into Mike Watt (in town to play T.T. the Bear's Place), who was quick to proclaim his affection for I Like It When You Die, which Watt claimed to play often on his Internet radio show. "We have a song," Putnam told him bluntly. "It's called `The Internet Is Gay.' " The surrealness of the exchange with Watt . . . [was] still fresh in my mind as we walked down Mass Ave and Putnam, striding boldly down the middle of a crowded sidewalk, purposefully and with malice and totally out of nowhere knocked an unsuspecting middle-aged woman flat on her back. It occurred to me that to the uninitiated bystander, ironic transgression and transgression of the plain ol' random-violence variety both end up tasting like pavement."

Seth always made it very, very difficult to call yourself an Anal Cunt fan -- as time went on and he pursued new boundaries to eviscerate, his satiric mind drove him into songs and lyrics that mocked anti-Semitism and racism, but were so close to being genuinely anti-Semitic and racist that it was often hard to get him to admit they were satire. In interviews, he'd take positions that were often morally indefensible -- although, if you knew Seth, you knew that he was a contrarian by nature and that he would argue the opposite of almost anything. Still, that's about the time I checked out of Putnam's orbit.

But in 2004, I got pulled back into the Anal Cunt story when message boards claimed that Seth was dead or in a coma. It turned out to be the latter. I spent months, off and on, talking to his friends and family and trying to figure out exactly what happened. I'd spoken to close friends who were with him the night he landed in the hospital. I spoke to his mother, who threatened to sue me. It took a year, but one day Putnam called me and told me the whole story: the drugs he'd done, the thoughts of suicide he'd entertained and then discarded, how close he'd been to death, and ultimately how the same contrarian stubborness that had driven him to the fringes of society now conspired to form the sheer force of will he needed to return from near-death to perform again. 

Most of us, if we're honest, are walking contradictions. Seth wore his on his sleeve, because he had no choice -- he had no apparent filter. He made more dumb gay jokes than anyone I've ever met, and was fully obsessed with the Village People, who were by far his favorite band of all time. This was not a joke. Seth had devoted friends who endured his legendary tirades and abuses, and rarely divulged the secret that Putnam could be an intensely loyal bandmate. He also left behind a string of enemies who will likely exult in pissing on his grave now that he's gone. Seth once wrote a pretty great Anal Cunt biography, which I told him he ought to try to turn into a book. He thought that idea was unbelievably retarded. I'm no psychiatrist but it wouldn't have surprised me to learn that Seth had been diagnosed as severely bipolar; the only thing that matched the heights of his arrogance was the depth of his insecurity. For months after he came out of his coma, his doctors were convinced he had brain damage, because he seemed incapable of carrying on normal interactions with them. As he told me at the time, "I actually had to change my whole attitude and have normal conversations to fucking prove that I wasn’t fucking retarded."

After his coma, Seth went on to perform and record for another six years -- just this past March, Anal Cunt kicked off a national tour with a show at Church, booked by longtime A.C. fan and chronicler Nick Blakey. (Blakey is penning a remembrance of Putnam that will be published here in the next day or two.) By 2009, he had a website up that offered "professional services": he'd gone into the consulting business, or at least was not opposed to the idea. 

It's a strange thing to say that he will be missed. But he will be. And we'll never see another like him. 


1999: In which I interview Seth, we run into Mike Watt, Seth tells Watt the internet is gay, Seth randomly knocks a woman down, and I argue that Anal Cunt are absolutely not as harmless as the Village Voice seems to think

2005: Seth talks about what it was like to be in a coma, and recounts the insanely fucked-up story of how he smoked a bunch of crack, decided to kill himself with a heroin hotshot, changed his mind, and then accidentally OD'd on sleeping pills


| More


  • jason oliver said:

    im sure that seth was mature enough ,in life to know how offensive he was to others and would'nt expect mercy from those whom he had offended....those of us who consider ourselves his fans can take comfort in the fact that ONLY now that hes dead can they talk shit on him,laugh at his death.....AND KEEP THEIR TEETH! seth WAS funny,the legacy of anal cunt WILL endure & those who DONT agree are gay.

    June 12, 2011 3:29 PM
  • Justin said:

    Carly, great tribute to my good friend Seth. I've known him since 94 when they toured FL and stayed at my house in Jacksonville. Anal Cunt, with some help from me and some tampa bay friends, closed the one club in Jax that allowed metal bands to played after they/we trashed the club and forced the owner to still pay them. He told me forever after that was their worst gig ever. Later that night we started a fight in Dennys and mocked the one armed night manager( at seth's instigation) by tucking one arm in our sleeves as we left.

    I think you were dead on with your assessments of him and also right when you said, he was one of a goddamn kind.

    June 12, 2011 8:40 PM
  • billthemailman said:

    ...and the world's a better place if Seth was, indeed, "one of a goddamn kind." Don't give me this crap about not understanding this man: being willfully offensive is just morally indefensible and helps no one be a better person. Maybe if one of you friends/fans had had the guts to help him see how damaging his life was to himself and others, he'd still be here.

    June 14, 2011 10:09 AM
  • dan said:

    Fuck this dead shithead. You died (you're gay).

    June 14, 2011 1:49 PM

Leave a Comment

Login | Not a member yet? Click here to Join
 Friends' Activity   Popular 
All Blogs
Follow the Phoenix
  • newsletter
  • twitter
  • facebook
  • youtube
  • rss
OTD Categories
VIDEO: Arctic Monkeys at the House of Blues
Rare Frequencies
Rare Frequencies: Trouble and treble
Lady Lee's Lion's Den Playlist
MP3 of the Week
HOMEWORK: Assignment #2: D-Tension
Hot Tix
Ticket On-Sale Alert: Muse, Mariah Carey, Black Eyed...
Search Blogs
Bradley’s Almanac - Lower Allston blogging and bootlegging since 2001
Band in Boston -
Basstown -
Wayne&Wax -
Aurgasm -
Onward Charles -
Compound 440r -
Anti-Gravity Bunny -
Clicky Clicky -
Soul Clap -
Lemmingtrail -
Beginning To See the Light -
Jump the Turnstyle -
Heads Up Boston -
Loaded Gun -
Enough Cowbell -
Vanyaland -
Ryan's Smashing Life -
On The Download Archives
Thursday, August 18, 2011  |  Sign In  |  Register
Phoenix Media/Communications Group
Copyright © 2011 The Phoenix Media/Communications Group