Random thoughts: If memory serves, this was an e-mail interview, but you sure couldn't tell. Not like you need to be told, but Coliseum are a powerhouse band. If you haven't already, check out their new one, No Salvation, on Relapse Records. Also below the Chord article are the Q&A leftovers that got posted on the Flex Your Head website.
By Jason Schreurs
Here’s the dilemma: Most crusty hardcore bands seriously lack in the melody department. When was the last time anyone found themselves humming a Discharge tune in the shower? (Then again, when was the last time any Discharge listeners took a shower?)
So it was a real treat to hear Coliseum, the new band from Ryan Patterson (Black Cross, Initial Records), reviving the crust hardcore sound and adding some emo-serated edges on their self-titled debut for Level-Plane Records. Here’s some angry shit you’ll never hear in a shampoo commercial, but should.
“I wanted to do some D-beat type elements, have dirty rock elements, classic punk, catchy choruses that weren't cheesy...,” begins Patterson. “Just write songs that built upon my influences. Some of my absolute favorite bands are The Replacements, Seaweed, Gray Matter, so melody is always a part of what I do, even if it's unintentional. Actually, for me, writing heavy music is more challenging than writing melodic music.”
Patterson, who can perpetually be found slogging away 12-hour days at Initial and carrying a lot of the weight of the Louisville hardcore scene on his shoulders, was waiting for the right moment to inject his everyday angst into another band. When his main gig, riffing and back-vocalizing in Black Cross, found some downtime, the impetus to start Coliseum became quite clear to him.
“I was slipping into Travis Bickle mode and realized I needed an outlet,” explains Patterson. “I wanted to play in a fucking pissed-off punk band.”
And I’m to assume the chance to release those pent-up emotions and anxieties about a world gone totally mad has been somewhat therapeutic?
“Sometimes getting onstage and opening up gets really hard, sometimes I freak out and freak the audience out, and sometimes everything clicks and it's beautiful... It's been a really intense ride so far, and I know there's even more on the way.”
Originally published in: Flex Your Head
Anyone familiar with the Louisville, KY hardcore scene instantly recognizes the name Ryan Patterson from his work with Initial Records, Black Cross, The National Acrobat, and many other excellent bands. So make sure his new band, Coliseum, doesn’t slip under your radar due to a slightly generic sounding name. A damn impressive combo of crusty hardcore and melodic punk, this band is the perfect melt of Discharge-style noise with Patterson’s love of melody shining through. And those amazing, rusty pipes should make him top candidate to carry the torch of the quickly withering Lemmy in the raunchy vocals department. Patterson needed another outlet and found it with this amazing band. But damn, I’m getting ahead of myself. I’ll let him explain…
Jason Schreurs interviewed vocalist/guitarist Ryan Patterson in late September, 2004.
I know you play in another band (Black Cross) and keep busy with Initial Records. What was the motivation and impetus to form another band, Coliseum?
Emotional turmoil? Social disgust? Too much time at home alone? I sang for the very first bands I did back in high school and I guess in the back of my mind was that desire to get up and have the chance to rant and rave again. Black Cross was becoming less and less active due to [his brother] Evan [Patterson] being busy with Breather Resist and Rob being busy with family and career life... I was really busy with work at Initial, freelance design stuff, and setting up shows in Louisville... But I was feeling like my dreams were slipping away from me as I worked harder and harder to facilitate the dreams and enjoyment of others via doing a ton of local shows and working 12-hour days at Initial. Around this time I was also feeling more emotional upheaval than I had in a long time, I was lonely and angry and getting really sick with the world around me... I wrote my cousin Matt to see if he knew any drummers, he said he'd like to try it out (he'd never played drums in a band before). So he went and bought a kit, I called Tony and Keith, we convened in the garage and I got aggro. I really felt like I had to either start this band or slam my head into a brick wall...
Who are the other guys you are playing with and how does playing with them differ from your other bands?
Well, Matt Jaha is the drummer, he's my cousin. I remember when he was born, I used to babysit him and his siblings (I'm six years older). In many ways we grew up together and shared many family experiences together. I introduced him to a lot of music, he saw our bands play before he'd ever started his own. So being in the band with him has been really great, to get to know him as a person and not just an extended family member has been wonderful. This is the first band he's played drums for and he fucking rages. He's also recently taken over drums for Black Cross. Tony Ash plays guitar. Tony has been in many cool Louisville bands that never quite took off. I knew he was into DC bands and Marshall amps, so I'd had my eye on him for years. He also was a big fan of The National Acrobat, so I knew he was down with the program. Tony's the man of a zillion riffs. Keith Bryant plays bass. Keith has been one of my absolute best friends since we were 13 years old. We played in our first bands together and we've grown up together. He's one of the most important people in my life, so it made sense to get him along on this adventure.
You have nailed the perfect mix of crust hardcore and emo-serated edges. Was it difficult to combine the heavy with the melodic, and how did you find the experience of writing this album?
Writing a first record is always infinitely easier than writing subsequent releases... There are no expectations, just new ideas, just you in your room playing guitar or in the garage hashing it out with some other people. There wasn't a specific game plan... I wanted to do some D-beat type elements, have dirty rock elements, classic punk, catchy choruses that weren't cheesy... Just write songs that built upon my influences. Some of my absolute favorite bands are The Replacements, Seaweed, Gray Matter, so melody is always a part of what I do, even if it's unintentional. Actually, for me, writing heavy music is more challenging than writing melodic music. I want to have vocals and music that stick in your head, but not in a bullshit pop way -- in the way that Ramones or Stooges or even Black Flag songs will become instantly memorable. Those bands didn't force it, but their songs grabbed you by the throat. But, this is actually all more of an afterthought. In the beginning I wrote a few songs, taught them to the guys, we all wrote a bunch more songs together, I wrote some words and sang 'em. We set up and recorded at my house and the record was done. Simple.
What's it like living in Louisville and how does the scene there influence your music?
Louisville is very, very mellow. People are nice, life is simple, it's cool. When I'm home I often don't even need to leave more than a 10-mile radius, just about everything I need is contained in one area -- guitar shops, health food stores, record stores, mechanic, my office, theatres, etc. There's an amazing sense of community here that extends beyond just the people in the music scene, but on into local businesses and even local government (except some of Louisville's police force which is completely fucked). I think for the most part I've drawn my greatest musical inspiration from outside of Louisville, but it's the people in the scene that really inspire me. There are really wonderful people involved here from the young punks on up to the eldest rockers. I mean, how cool is it that I put out a record for Peter from Squirrel Bait, I'm in a band with Rob from Endpoint, I rent videos at Todd from Slint's store, Jason from Sebadoh recorded our album, we record sometimes at Chris from Lords' studio, Evan from Black Cross/Breather Resist prints our shirts, etc, etc. That's fucking cool -- that's community! Louisville rules.
So, you finally got a band where you sing, play guitar, and write the songs. Must be a blast, eh?
Fuck yeah. The other guys are absolutely a huge part of the band, but I knew that if the band sucked it would fall completely on my shoulders. But, with the amazing positive reaction and support we've gotten so far, it makes me feel wonderful. Sometimes getting onstage and opening up gets really hard, sometimes I freak out and freak the audience out, and sometimes everything clicks and it's beautiful... It certainly is a fucking blast.
For more info, go to: www.coliseumsoundsystem.com