Even the best, most talented bands make amazing mistakes. Surviving them and moving on is a skill most of us could use in our day-to-day lives.
Even the best, most talented bands make amazing mistakes. Surviving them and moving on is a skill most of us could use in our day-to-day lives. For bands, signing to a label, taking that US tour, and playing on a daily basis sounds like the very best “next step” up from playing at Some Asshole’s Pub downtown. Anal Cunt certainly thought so. Besides having either a really amazing or unfortunate name, AC managed to get signed, tour Europe and the US, and leave a legacy of mayhem and misunderstanding that has so far outlived front man Seth Putnam. Tim Morse, AC’s drummer, was happy to talk about the bad, bizarre, and weird world of the music industry. For those who think they know AC, be warned. As Tim tells it: “There’s so many misconceptions of the band. It’s almost so juvenile and premature that it’s genius. It goes over people’s heads.”
AC were signed to Earache Records early on. “For the legendary status that we have,” Tim starts, “I think I should be doing a lot better than I am, and that bothers me. There’s a lot of cheating going on. To say he’s never made a dime off of us…it can’t be.”
The “he” in question is Digby Pearson, founder of the label Earache, which also signed Napalm Death, Morbid Angel, Deicide, and Dillinger Escape Plan. Tim explains a little more:
“We were given NOTHING to record. We were given like a quarter and a pat on the back. We were kids, we got this paperwork [to sign to the label]--honestly, it was written in Old English. And we were like, “OK, where do we sign?” We had no idea.”
Shortly after singer Seth Putnam’s death in 2011, new AC merchandise was suddenly appearing on Earache’s web site for sale. When Tim mentions this, he winces; this feels like grave robbing to him, he tells me, when the perspective “from a marketing standpoint, [is] ‘OK, this is hot now ‘cause this guy’s dead.’ I honestly understand that, but have a little heart.” This coming from a guy whose band had song titles like “You're Pregnant, So I Kicked You in the Stomach” and “Foreplay with a Tree Shredder.”
With as many issues as AC had with their label, touring was where they really found the blackest pits of hell. AC hit the road. A lot. No one really knew what to do with them, so they ended up on some strange bills. Take, for instance, Tim’s story of an infamous gig in San Francisco:
They booked the show with these avant-garde people. The first act is this woman playing a violin with a guy who’s pushin’ knobs and I’m thinking, This is not gonna be good. There’s nobody there. There’s no booking agent. Nobody knows who we are, nor do they care, and it’s no wonder this drunk woman walks up in front of Seth and yells, “Gimme the mic!” …and he clobbers her. Then he goes to jail.
Booking agents “used to try to put us with techno bands,” Tim says, smiling. While some bands would get angry, AC took it as a challenge.
“Sometimes I thought the biggest mistake anyone could do would be to give Anal Cunt a show. We got offered the most ridiculous tours…. After a while, we kinda looked for that shit; we wanted that. We wanted to walk into that nightmare and hear people say, ‘What…what is happening?’”
In case you were wondering exactly why Tim would say that about his own band, check out his stories of tour disaster.
What, is it my fault?
AC was playing Emo’s in Austin for the first time. Seth would do the Roger Daltry thing with the microphone, so he swings the mic around and knocks John out cold, cuts his forehead. This is not a scratch; he’s like bleeding out. I see it and I’m like, “Oh shit!” I jump off the drum kit and grab a towel. John’s never been upset about this; he got into the line of fire, and he knew it, but what did upset him was that “I don’t wanna look like an idiot onstage!” He was embarrassed. I grab a towel and I ask around for some ice, because my guitar player got hit. Seth is still singing, he has no clue, so when I grab the mic he’s still got no clue. Seth grabs the mic back from me and says, “Yeah, can I get two Sprites with no ice? Some asshole knocked mine over.” We’re looking at him and he says “What, is it my fault?” After that, John cleans himself up and we get back on and play. This guy in the audience starts throwing stuff. Somebody in the audience gets hit, and then this guy takes one of those plastic pitcher mugs and punches Seth in the face with it. Seth falls back, bleeding. He had the scar for years on his nose from this. The kid who hit Seth gets immediately dragged out by the bouncers. The kid’s by the door, and right there there’s this aluminum trash can full of bottles and I went THUMP! [Mimes picking it up and throwing the kid into the trash can.] The doorman, who was the bouncer, was like this 75-foot Southern black man. He grabbed me by the back of my shirt, picked me up, and put me back on the stage, and said “Finish.”
When we first started, I was still in high school and Seth had just graduated. So anytime there was a school break we’d do a show. Like the 3rd time we played was the Electric Banana in Pittsburg. The owner, Johnny Banana… this is the guy, he pulled a shotgun out on the Circle Jerks. He’s an old mob guy; he’s a tyrant. The first time we played there, we had barely any equipment and it was just three weeks us of going “BAAHHHHHH!” He walks up to us and Seth’s like. “We’re gonna die.” And Johnny Banana goes, “YOU GUYS…WERE GREAT! I loved you guys!”
We went back and played this place again, we’d been around for maybe a year and there was a bunch of local acts. But they had this one band in the middle that was this heavy metal act, like this glam thrash band, 80’s thrash band. They’d lost their singer. Their guitar player was this burly muscle guy with like frosted long hair, kinda the Anthrax type of thing, with red sweatpants rolled up to the knee. But he’s like a steroids victim. He comes out and he’s like, “My singah left because he’s a fuckin’ piece of shit, fuck ’em.” The drummer, mind you, had this tight curly haired afro thing, kinda carved in the side like a mullet. The bass player looked like he’d much prefer to be in a factory. They’re called Virgin Agony. I barely remember their set but I remember they had this one song called “Angry Slut,” which Seth came out and sang. The guitar player also had this really expensive guitar gear and he had this cordless thing. He’s running into the audience doing like a circle mosh and he slams into everybody. He literally throws me against the wall; I’m in hysterics laughing. This is the one part of the song I remember-- the guitar sounds like a transistor radio and the words are “There’s an asshole, lives next door to me—fuck ’em!” and it goes on for like 45 minutes. The drummer’s drums were great because it looked like he gingerly put them onstage. He bought it at the five and dime and it was about to fall apart. He was taking his time getting it off stage and we were like, “Can you hurry it up?” and he was like, “This is very expensive gear.”
Breaking the Law
Classic mistake of booking AC somewhere: We played at this place; it was with Nightstick, in a seedy roadhouse sports bar, all of us friends in this battle of the bands in Braintree. We walked in there, we start loading in, and there’s a darts competition going on. So it’s all local yokels. The guys throwing darts are all, “Get the fuck outta here! We don’t want noise.” So we can already tell this is not gonna work.
We start playing, suddenly there’s a chair fight going on. The bar lady gets hit with a chair. OK, time to go. In the process, more fighting starts. Then more fighting starts, and I’m trying to get our stuff outta there, but people are getting mad at us. I come back in, and during this melee the owner starts shaking Seth. The bass player of Nightstick takes the butt edge of the microphone stand and whacks the guy’s head in with it. He runs out the back door. John’s walking back up and he looks up and says to the bassist from Nightstick, “Hey, what’s up?”
“Oh, I think I killed somebody,” he says, and runs into the hedges.
I could see the name brand of the back end of the mic stand on the guy’s head. I’m trying to help get the guitarist’s cab out. I get punched in the back of the head. Now, here’s the funny part: We put a fucking Marshall cab in the back of a Firebird. I’d never seen anything move so quickly. It was like the car swallowed it.
We all dodge into this car, and as we’re driving to the highway, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6…I think like 10 cop cars go by. I’m in the backseat having a nervous breakdown. Seth’s laughing his ass off. Come to find out that the place was like a big drug den and it had been shut down a few times and the owner was wanted for like selling crack to four year olds or something.
Memories from the Last Tour
There’s one time I drove. I left the house at midnight and drove all night and all day till 6 PM to Indiana to play a show, chewing Adderall the entire time. Chewing my teeth down to a nub there. Seth and Julie (Seth’s wife) are in the backseat asleep the entire time. One time I stood up to go to the bathroom, I couldn’t feel anything from my waist down.
Somehow I got 3.6 seconds to close my eyes before the show. I went through REM and then I got woken up. We’re onstage doing “Radio Hit” and there’s a break before it comes to the hardcore bit. During the hardcore part, I shut my eyes and fell asleep—and never dropped the beats.
Our guitar player Josh never showered, never shaved. He cut his foot, so he’s not wearing shoes. He looks like Frodo. We had this one show, Josh was like, “Something’s wrong with my guitar.” My eyes get wide and I reared back, retorting, “YOU HAVE NO STRINGS ON IT, ASSHOLE!” He’s slamming the pickup.
The last show AC played was in Cleveland at a place called Now That’s Class, an absolute dive with Mad Dog at the bar for $5. During one of the opening acts, I went to Pizza Hut before so…explosive diarrhea is coming on. I run to the bathroom, which ends up being the women’s bathroom. Too late. So I sit down, and it’s explosion city. Mountains of mayhem. So this woman walks in, and all of a sudden she’s like, “Is thaaat a maaan? I’m gonna kick yer ass!” So I say, “Well if you kick my ass we won’t be able to play.” She says “Oh my god yer in Anal Cunt! Oh I wanna fuck you…blah blah blah. Let me come in there and give you a blow job.”
I’m like, “Don’t touch me while I’m in the bathroom. No.” That was just weird. I get out of the bathroom and she’s trying to hump me, ugh. Later on in the club she’s all “Seth! I wanna meet Seth!” which I mean, everyone wants to meet Seth. She gets up to see him and Seth’s all, “Hey you wanna give me a blow job?” and she says, “Maybe later.” So we start playing and the show is just chaos. Packed house. We’re playing for like an hour. During the set the girl was onstage and Seth goes up to her and says, “You can gimme that blow job now.” It was only like ten seconds but the crowd went nuts. That was the last show we ever played.
We get a hotel room and Josh disappears. Seth and Julie are asleep. Then there’s a knock at the door. “It’s me, Josh,” the voice behind it says. It’s like three hours later; I’d been asleep. Seth opens the door and Josh is like, “Somebody gimme 60 dollars.”
“I can score some crack from the hooker out in the hallway.”
Somehow I gave it to him. I don’t know why. And that was a night with Anal Cunt. Those were tour nights.
By Amanda Nichols with Henry Owings and Brian Teasley