Most people know Will Putney as either the guitarist for deathcore groundbreakers Fit For An Autopsy or the veteran producer of contemporary hardcore classics by bands like Knocked Loose or Vein. But recently, Will worked on a different kind of album at his New Jersey studio Graphic Nature Audio: Brain Pain, the fifth release by Massachusetts pop-punks Four Year Strong.
And while some may think that the departure from his usual level of sonic gravity would leave Will nonplussed, the producer actually had a blast.
“I record so many heavy bands all year, people probably don’t even think that I like this style of music, but they’re really fun records to make,” says Putney in our latest episode of Art Of The Record, the series that takes you behind the scenes at Graphic Nature Audio. He later adds, “I’ve known Four Year Strong for a long time but this is actually the first full-length album that I’m producing with these guys. “
“We picked Will to capture the energy of our live show,” says guitarist and vocalist Alan Day. “A big reason we decided to go with Will for this record was because we’ve known him for so long...Going with someone like Will who we personally knew, we thought that that would be more fun, more than anything.”
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Not that recording Four Year Strong doesn’t have its challenges. Alan is one of the band’s two singers and guitarist, alongside Dan O’Connor. And while the two are old friends who have been in the band together since 2001, both members want the chance to play guitar -- and both want to lock down solid vocal harmonies, leaving plenty of room for complications.
“We’re both guitar players first, and we were both like, ‘I don’t want to just sing! I want to play guitar!’” says Dan. “Alan and I spent a lot of time, especially in high school, singing in the choir at school and studying harmony...which is both awesome and has its challenges sometime.
It’s also Putney’s recording technique that makes the process more interesting, if atypical and a little tougher. “When we’re recording vocals with Four Year Strong, it’s cool because they’re both in the room, and they do a lot of the songwriting together,” says Will. “One thing we’re trying on this record which is pretty not traditional at all is, I’m having both of them sing parts at the same time. We’ll see if it works, and winds up on the record, but there’s a vibe when the two of them sing parts together at the same time, and we’re going to try and capture that.”
Check out Four Year Strong recording their twin vocals with Will Putney: