Interview with Putrid Pile

Three albums in and Shaun LaCanne’s Putrid Pile is something along the lines of a household name; death metal households anyway. Along with Shawn Whitaker (Insidious Decrepancy, Viral Load) and Peter Hasslebrack (Bloodsoaked), LaCanne took the one-man-band concept and turned it into a legitimate death metal form that rivals most trios, quartets, and quintets. Album number three, House of Dementia (Sevared Records) is the most accomplished Putrid Pile release to date. Having seen Shaun performed at the 2008 and 2010 editions of Central Illinois Metalfest, I can personally attest to his chops as a stage performer as well. As it had been several years since I interviewed Shaun for Metal Maniacs (R.I.P.), I figured it would be a good time to catch up and discuss his impressive list of accomplishments since 2003’s Collection of Butchery was released.

by Scott Alisoglu

Thinking back to the first Putrid Pile album, do you recall what expectations you had for this project and have you now exceeded those expectations?

Well to tell you the truth when I first stared Putrid Pile my plans were to just put CDs out and maybe play some shows in the tri-state area at most. I never knew it would blow up like it did and I would be traveling the world and seeing so many wonderful sights and meeting so many new and interesting people from so many different cultures around the world.  It’s truly been amazing and I look forward to doing this as longs as I possibly can!

Musically speaking, how has your approach to the one-man-band recording process changed across the three albums?

Well now I like to do four guitar tracks to keep that sound beefy! [Laughs] But I’ve always overdubbed real cymbals and toms, as well as the snare, to give my drums the best overall sound I possibly can.  It is hard doing everything yourself, but it’s worth it in the long run.  There are people still to this day that don’t know that I’m a one-man-band, so that’s pretty interesting [laughs].
How important have your appearances at Central Illinois Metalfest been to the success/recognition of Putrid Pile?

Well every festival I play helps me out a great deal because it’s such a great opportunity to play in front of as many people as possible.  I enjoy playing at CIM because I always have so many friends there and it’s like a family reunion every year for me [laughs].
Any personally memorable experiences from the fest, including seeing other bands that have played the fests in years past?

That one is hard because there is so much alcohol and mingling involved [laughs]!  But I love to see all of the bands and talk to as many friends and fans as I can because there are always people there I don’t get to see very often .So it’s nice to get to have a beer with them and catch up!  That’s the best part for me I think.  Sharing the laughs and being with great people!
A live snippet of you playing this year’s fest during Grindhead Jim Deafenderfer’s (Cardiac Arrest) is included in a CIM video documentary teaser. Do you expect the ultimate release of this DVD as a bonus disc on the next Cardiac Arrest album will take the career of Shaun LaCanne to a whole new level?

Yes.  I feel like now that I am associated with Jim and Cardiac Arrest I will be able to play my dream country of Antarctica [laughs]! Maybe I will open for them there.
House of Dementia was released on Sevared Records. Tell us about your relationship with the label and what you feel they bring to the table for brutal bands?

I appreciate Barrett and Sevared Records for the fact that they are so much in tune with the underground and they give a lot of bands the opportunity to get heard around the world.  Barrett is a great guy and has done good for Putrid Pile and I thank him for that. His contribution to the underground is unmatched!
By the way, what was the story on the demise of United Guttural Records some time after the release of the first Putrid Pile album?

Well, they probably folded because Putrid Pile is cursed [laughs]!  No really though, I just think they just weren’t into it anymore and had other things to do, so I guess they had to call it quits for awhile.  I believe they still might be selling CDs and such online, so maybe they will be back in full force again soon.  I don’t know.
Are you surprised at the level of recognition that one-man DM bands like Putrid Pile, Bloodsoaked, and Insidious Decrepancy have gotten the last couple of years?

I can’t say I’m very surprised, but I am very grateful and happy that people have an open enough mind to listen to quality music despite the number of persons in the band.  Just because someone is a one man band doesn’t mean you can’t write sweet ass melodies!  Drum machine bands are here whether some stubborn people like it or not [laughs]! There are more and more of these around the world every year and they are a part of the underground nowadays and I don’t see them going away anytime soon so…like it or die!

The three of you were even featured in a recent Decibel Magazine article. The same three bands completed a European tour. How were the shows and any related experiences?

I didn’t do a European tour with these bands [Damn dementia! – Scott]. I just did some dates in Colombia and Mexico with Insidious Decrepancy and Bloodsoaked, but I would do that once I think if possible. We were supposed to do a European tour, but it fell though.  I joke about us all having our own paths in the underground and sometimes they cross and sometimes they don’t.  But we are all great friends and love to hear the road stories from each other because they’re all different [laughs].
Any plans for doing a tour like that in North America?

Probably not, but anything is possible.  I never know what the future holds so I’m not ruling that out!

One aspect of House of Dementia that I found particularly striking when compared to the previous two releases was just how far you’ve come in terms of structural dynamics and making each song distinct and memorable. Was this something you had thought about going into the writing/recording of this album or simply a natural progression (or both)?

Awesome question, Scott.  I suppose it could be a little bit of both, but when I was writing Collection of Butchery I didn’t know my capabilities for playing and singing at the same time.  So with every show I did I learned my boundaries and such and as the writing came more and more I learned what I was comfortable with for playing live and what I wasn’t comfortable with. I’ve been playing guitar since I was 10 so I’ve been pretty good at it for some years prior to Collection of Butcher, so I had my chops up already. It was just now I had to figure out how to play and sing at the same time. Nowadays I just write what I feel and don’t concentrate so much on the technical aspect because there will always be some songs I don’t play live, so I will be able to do a little more to them as far as difficulty.  I probably wouldn’t have been so mid-paced and such on Collection of Butchery if I thought I could play more technical and sing at the same time.  What I’m playing nowadays is what I would have been playing back in ’03 had I known my boundaries and capabilities.
The album starts off quite pleasantly with “Intro,” acoustic piece, that is, just before the world collapses. What possessed you to compose it?

[Laughs]  Well… I actually wrote that piece when I was like 14 or 15 and just decided to use it because I always liked it.  It was an opportunity to do something out of the norm for Putrid Pile because I like to keep things interesting!  I like to not be so predictable.
You always point out in the liner notes of your albums that no effects were used on the vocals. How do you get such power, great tone, and variation doing it the natural way?

Thank you for the compliment, Scott! I do it with a lot of force pushing outward and voice control. Also experimenting in the studio helps out a lot to find sweet spots and such.  Taking time and experimenting helps for any musician and can only help you out in the long run.

Should one assume then that implied in your emphasis on the natural vocals is a commentary on what may be too many DM vocalist using effects in the studio that cannot be replicated in a live environment?

N, not at all because I can appreciate that as well.  I just put that in there because there has always been somebody out there that has to say “that’s not humanly possible” and can’t accept that someone can actually do that with their natural voice.  That’s pretty much for all of the “nonbelievers” out there that don’t know much about the scene and what’s really out there in the brutal death metal world.
In closing, would you say that the future looks even brighter for the one-man death metal band?

I really, truly believe it is brighter.  As long as people take it seriously while in the writing process and put on a good live show, then I don’t see one man bands going anywhere anytime soon.  Thanks for the interview, Scott!  I appreciate it to the fullest!



  1. Commented by: Old Pick Axe

    Nice to see some love for Putrid Pile.

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