Like recently-profiled Big Black Cloud, Louisville’s Coliseum are both quite heavy and quite heady, taking things like high art and the humanities as inspiration for their particularly abrasive musical exercises. Coliseum have been kicking out hardcore-inspired punk jams for ten years now and they released their fourth LP, Sister Faith, earlier this year on Temporary Residence Limited, which features contributions from members of Boris, Sebadoh, and Jawbox, among others. They’re about to head out on tour, which will have them making two Philadelphia stops: September 12th at Johnny Brenda’s with Girls Against Boys (touring for the first time in about a decade) and November 3rd at the First Unitarian Church with Pelican. Yesterday I got a chance to chat with vocalist/guitarist Ryan Patterson about how Coliseum has evolved in the past ten years, what have been the highlights of their milestone birthday, and all of their fucking amazing influences.
Izzy Cihak: You recently marked a decade into the career of Coliseum. What are the biggest differences between Coliseum in 2003 and Coliseum in 2013?
Ryan Patterson: The band is on essentially the same mission now as when it started. It ebbs and flows with our lives as any band that exists for many years must. I’m the same person I was ten years ago, but I’ve grown and learned. I change inside and out. Coliseum changes in the same way; it grows with us and changes with us. Sonically, you could point to specific differences, but the drive to create and share and follow our collective heart remains the same.
IC: You released your fourth album, Sister Faith, earlier this year. What have been your highlights of promoting the album, or 2013 in general, thus far?
RP: Recording Sister Faith in late 2012 was certainly the highlight of my musical life thus far and since its release earlier this year we’ve been really fortunate to continue to play all over the world and share the songs with the folks who come to the shows. Specific highlights that pop into my mind at this moment: playing the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in August, performing the song “Sister Faith” with Jason Farrell joining us on stage, incredibly passionate and/or raucous shows in Berlin, Baltimore, Birmingham, Louisville, Chicago, and Austin (among others), Fluff Fest in Czech Republic, covering Eddie Money for AV Club with Bruce Lamont joining us, Daytrotter, Braund Sound… And great times with my band mates in general.
IC: What do you currently consider to be the band’s biggest influences and inspirations, whether musical or not?
RP: We’re very influenced by film, we’re all incredibly passionate fans of movies and that passion is reflected in Coliseum in a variety of ways. There are references and homage to films in our music and lyrics and we also try to approach our songs and albums in a cinematic way. I see each song as a scene and each album as a full-length feature. Hence why we have never focused on repeating ourselves musically; just as a movie director isn’t expected to make the same film over and over, we also feel free to explore different elements of genre and reinvention. Musically, we generally wear our influences our sleeves and our musical favorites and touchstones have been pretty well documented.
IC: I’m quite a fan of your music videos, which are reminiscent of the golden age of music videos, when the best directors managed to balance a three-minute musical clip with a knowledge of the most progressively poignant cinematography. What, specifically, are your biggest cinematic influences?
RP: That’s great to hear because one of our goals with Sister Faith is to try and create a video for every song on the album. It’s been really fun and challenging thus far. We’ve been lucky to work with some great folks who have done incredible work. Personally, as I mentioned before, I’m a big film fan, so narrowing down my favorite directors to a reasonable list is a little difficult. To a certain extent, movies like Street Trash or Robocop hold as important a place in my heart as A Clockwork Orange or The 400 Blows. Off the top of my head, some of my favorite directors are Truffaut, Hitchcock, Malick, Haneke, Roeg, Gilliam, Antonioni, Jodorowsky, Kubrick, Melville, Peckinpah, Hillcoat, Refn… I could go on forever. I really, really love film, certainly as much and possibly more than music.
IC: You’re about to play a few dates with Girls Against Boys, including your next Philadelphia stop. What are your thoughts on the DC post-hardcore outfit? Were you previously fans?
RP: I’m a huge GVSB fan and it’s an absolute honor to play these shows with them. I grew up as a Dischord and DC music fanatic. Their previous band, Soul Side, has a very special place in my heart, but I love GVSB on their own accord. I was a fan while they were originally active but never saw them play until the Touch & Go 25th Anniversary festival and it was incredible. They are definitely among Coliseum’s musical influences and I’m so incredibly excited about the shows with them.
IC: What can be expected of your upcoming live dates? You actually have two Philly dates in the near future (one in the city’s hippest club and one in the city’s hippest church basement).
RP: We’ll do what we do – we put on the best show we can and pour all of ourselves into the performance. We played the same set for the first few months of touring on Sister Faith and I’m looking forward to the new set we’re working on, which brings out some different songs from Sister Faith, as well as older stuff, dating as far back as Goddamage.
IC: What are your most significant plans for after touring wraps and the first part of 2014?
RP: We have tour plans in place through Spring 2014, so we’ll mostly be on the road and spending quality time at home between tours. I am starting to formulate ideas for new songs, but it’s hard to say when and where they’ll come to life just yet.