A Journey Through Noise
In the realm of grindcore, a genre known for its extreme sound and aggressive lyrics, one band stands out for its audacity and refusal to conform – Anal Cunt. Formed in Newton, Massachusetts in 1988, Anal Cunt, often referred to by their initials A.C. or AxCx due to censorship limits, carved out a unique niche in the music scene. Their approach to music was as unconventional as their name, with a style that initially involved no pre-written lyrics or music. Instead, they created an entirely improvised style that was characterized by extremely loud, fast, and aggressive noise.
Over the years, the band evolved, gradually incorporating more riffs and pre-written lyrics into their songs. However, they never lost their edge or their ability to shock and provoke. Their album covers, often simply displaying the initials A.C., were a testament to their provocative nature and their refusal to bow to societal norms.
At the helm of this audacious band was founder and frontman Seth Putnam. Known for his high-pitched screamed vocals, Putnam’s lyrics were designed to shock, offend, or invoke morbid humor. His unique approach to music and his refusal to conform to societal norms were key elements in shaping the band’s image and sound.
Sadly, the band’s journey came to an end in 2011 with the death of Putnam.
A Journey from Joke to Grindcore Legends
Formed by Seth Putnam, a man who had previously lent his talents to bands such as Executioner and Satan’s Warriors, Anal Cunt was initially intended to be a joke. The goal was simple: to create the most offensive, stupid, and dumb band possible. And thus, with a name that would make even the most hardened punk blush, Anal Cunt was born.
The goal was simple: to create the most offensive, stupid, and dumb band possible.
The band’s first performance was a rehearsal at Putnam’s mother’s house, an event that was as far from a typical rock concert as you could get. The audience consisted of family members and friends, and the venue was as far from the smoky bars and packed arenas of rock and roll lore as you could imagine.
Despite the band’s unconventional beginnings, they quickly gained a following. Their unique, improvised style, combined with their intentionally offensive name, struck a chord with fans of the grindcore genre. The band underwent a number of line-up changes and never had a bassist, but this didn’t stop them from releasing eight full-length studio albums, along with a number of compilations and extended plays.
Their first demo was recorded in Putnam’s mother’s attic on a four-track in April 1988, but this has never been mixed, released, or heard by anyone outside of the band members themselves. Despite this, the band decided to attempt a U.S. tour in August 1988, just a few days before which they recorded their 47 Song Demo. This demo was later re-released on a compilation of the band’s material from the early years.
The Controversial Mastermind of Anal Cunt
Seth Edward Putnam, the man behind the grindcore phenomenon Anal Cunt, was as complex and controversial as the band he led. Born on May 15, 1968, in Newton, Massachusetts, Putnam was of half English and half Irish descent. His parents, Edward R. Putnam and Barbara Ann Donohue, divorced when he was young. Putnam was married twice, first to Alison Dunn from 1998 to 2001, and then to Julie in 2008.
He made up his own religion and declared his favorite bands to be Negative Approach and The Village People.
In school, Putnam was described as intelligent and stern, but also unmotivated and apathetic. Despite skipping a grade and tutoring his classmates, he lost interest in academics by high school. He left the Catholic religion in which he was raised and showed no interest in attending college or university after graduation. Instead, he made up his own religion and declared his favorite bands to be Negative Approach and The Village People.
Before forming Anal Cunt, Putnam played bass in the thrash metal band Executioner from 1986 to 1988. He also owned his own record label, “Wicked Sick Records”, and a subsidiary label, “Stridecore Records”, which only released one album, Anal Cunt’s The 5,643 Song EP.
Despite his shock humor and turbulent lifestyle, Putnam was often described by fans and peers as a warm, intelligent, and sensitive person. He saw himself as a comedian and used music as an outlet for his humor. However, his peers also noted his troubled nature. The 2018 grindcore documentary “Slave to the Grind” explores Putnam in detail, with former bandmates and friends expressing the duality of his nature.
Putnam was also good friends with Pantera frontman Philip Anselmo, who would often invite Anal Cunt to open for Pantera whenever they played in Boston. According to Eyehategod vocalist Mike Williams, Putnam was a normal guy off-stage and very quiet and soft-spoken.
Known for his high-pitched screamed vocals and lyrics that either shock, offend, or invoke morbid humor, Putnam was involved in numerous side projects throughout his career. On June 11, 2011, Putnam died of a suspected heart attack at the age of 43, leaving behind a legacy as one of the most provocative figures in grindcore.
The Evolution of Noise
Anal Cunt’s musical journey was as unconventional as the band itself. In their early years, the band’s material contained no pre-written lyrics or music. Instead, they developed an entirely improvised style, which consisted of extremely loud, fast, and unintelligible screaming. This unique approach to music set them apart in the grindcore scene and earned them a reputation for being outrageous and obscene.
However, as time went on, the band began to evolve. They gradually shifted their style and slowly began to incorporate more riffs and pre-written lyrics into their songs. This evolution in style did not dilute their unique approach to music, which continued to involve creating extremely loud, fast, and aggressive noise.
In 2010 and 2011, they released their final two albums. One was a “cock rock” album entitled “Fuckin’ A”, a departure from their usual style. The other was an album of material similar to their old grindcore albums called “Wearing Out Our Welcome”. Despite these changes, the band’s music has consistently been categorized as grindcore, noisecore and noisegrind.
Anal Cunt’s musical evolution is a testament to their willingness to push boundaries and experiment with their sound. Despite the changes, they remained true to their roots, maintaining their unique approach to music and their reputation for being intentionally outrageous and obscene.
Albums, EPs, and Notable Songs
Anal Cunt’s discography is as diverse and controversial as the band itself. Over the years, they released eight full-length studio albums, numerous EPs, split albums, and compilations. Each release marked a new chapter in the band’s musical journey, showcasing their unique style and willingness to push boundaries.
Their albums include “Everyone Should Be Killed”, “Top 40 Hits”, “40 More Reasons to Hate Us”, “I Like It When You Die”, “Picnic of Love”, “It Just Gets Worse”, “Defenders of the Hate”, and “Fuckin’ A”. Each album brought something new to the table, whether it was their foray into “cock rock” with “Fuckin’ A” or their return to their grindcore roots with “Wearing Out Our Welcome”.
The band’s discography also includes a number of compilations, such as “The Early Years 1988–1991” and “The Old Testament 1988–1991”, and numerous EPs, including “88 Song EP”, “Howard Is Bald”, and “Breaking the Law”. They also participated in several split releases with other bands, such as “Split with EyeHateGod”, “Split with Flächenbrand”, and “Split with The Raunchous Brothers”.
Some of their notable songs include “You’re Gay”, “Technology’s Gay”, “Recycling Is Gay”, “Cranking My Band’s Demo on a Box at the Beach”, “Loudest Stereo”, “Hot Girls on the Road”, “All Our Fans Are Gay”, “You’re a Cop”, and “You’re Old (Fuck You)”. Each song is a testament to the band’s unique style and their ability to shock and provoke.
Anal Cunt was also known for their style shifts. Their album “Picnic of Love” was an acoustic, melodically structured album, a stark contrast to their usual grindcore style. Their album “Fuckin’ A” was a “cock rock” album, again showcasing their ability to shift styles.
After the death of frontman Seth Putnam in 2011, there were a few posthumous releases, including “The Old Testament 1988–1991” and “Wearing Out Our Welcome”. These releases served as a reminder of the band’s musical legacy and their impact on the grindcore scene.
The Band that Loved to Stir the Pot
Anal Cunt was a band that thrived on controversy. From their name to their lyrics, everything about them was designed to provoke and offend. The band’s name, chosen for its offensive nature, often led to them being referred to by their initials A.C. or AxCx due to censorship limits on some radio and publications. Even this abbreviation was subverted by the band, who drew these letters on their album covers to resemble an anus and a vulva.
Their lyrics and song titles were no less provocative, covering topics such as misogyny, homophobia, and racism. They pushed these subjects to such ridiculous extremes that it was hard to take them seriously. With song titles like “Recycling Is Gay”, “Pottery’s Gay”, “Anyone Who Likes Dillinger Escape Plan Is Gay”, “The Word Homophobia Is Gay”, “Sweatshops Are Cool”, “Deadbeat Dads Are Cool”, and “Hitler Was a Sensitive Man”, the band left no stone unturned in their quest to shock and offend.
One such incident occurred in 1993, when Putnam punched a woman who grabbed his microphone during a show, breaking her nose and glasses.
The band’s public behavior, particularly that of frontman Seth Putnam, was also a source of controversy. Known for his confrontational and often offensive behavior, Putnam embodied the band’s provocative spirit. This extended to their live shows, which were known for their chaotic and unpredictable nature, often involving physical confrontations with the audience. One such incident occurred in 1993, when Putnam punched a woman who grabbed his microphone during a show, breaking her nose and glasses.
Despite the controversies, or perhaps because of them, the band developed a cult following. Some fans saw the band’s work as subversive brilliance, while others saw it as a tasteless attempt to shock and offend.
The Aftermath of Provocation
Anal Cunt, with their unique approach to music and their penchant for controversy, left an indelible mark on the grindcore scene. Their music, characterized by a lack of pre-written lyrics or music, set them apart from their contemporaries and defined their unique place in the genre.
Over time, the band evolved, shifting from their entirely improvised style to incorporate more riffs and pre-written lyrics. This evolution showcased their ability to adapt and experiment within their chosen genre, further cementing their status as a unique entity in the grindcore scene.
The death of frontman Seth Putnam in 2011 marked the end of Anal Cunt. However, the band’s music and legacy continue to resonate within the grindcore and broader metal scene.
Despite the offensive nature of their name and lyrics, Anal Cunt managed to carve out a niche for themselves in the music industry. Their success serves as a testament to the wide range of expressions and styles that can exist within a genre, even one as niche as grindcore.