We are very pleased to offer Blow The Scene readers from around the world an exclusive interview with Ryan Patterson of renowned Louisville hardcore punk band, Coliseum. Having hit the ground running in 2003, Coliseum have set forth a prolific run of material across such mainstay labels as Deathwish Inc., Level Plane, Relapse, and most recently Temporary Residence, who will also be releasing the band’s highly anticipated forthcoming LP, Sister Faith on April 30th. The band has etched a permanent place within the American punk rock collective that has seen tours span across the globe alongside such greats as Converge, Integrity, Rise Against, Trash Talk, and Russian Circles, to name but a few. The buzz surrounding the first batch of tracks to debut via various online publications, sees Coliseum reaching new sonic levels while expanding their fan base.
In this exclusive interview, Patterson goes in-depth with BTS Editor in Chief, Joshua Cohen, regarding the creation and recording processes behind Sister Faith, the history of Coliseum, alternative endeavors in the art world, plans for the future, and much more.
Without further ado, let’s hear from Ryan!
Joshua BTS: Greetings! Thank you for taking a few minutes with Blow The Scene readers from around the world. Let’s kick off this interview by having you introduce yourself and your musical weapon of choice with hardcore punk veterans, Coliseum.
Ryan Patterson: I am Ryan Patterson, I sing and play guitar in Coliseum.
Joshua BTS: Let’s dive right in on this forthcoming record Sister Faith that is due out on Temporary Residence LTD on April 30th. When did the writing sessions begin and who amongst you spearheaded the musical direction? With this being Kayhan Vaziri‘s first studio recording with the band- Did that open up new sonic territory?
Ryan Patterson: Writing for the album began in earnest in December 2011 and January 2012. The band decided to take a hiatus from touring for most of 2012 to focus on writing and recording a new album, so I started working on demos for new songs after our last tour in November 2011. I write a lot of songs and make basic demos as a blueprint, then send them to the other band members so they can get familiar with the basic ideas of the songs then begin to work on their parts so we can flesh out the final songs together. We had a lot of material to work from but the album didn’t really start to take shape until Kayhan joined the band in May 2012. Once Kayhan joined we started to really work on things and the album started to come into focus as a whole. Kayhan and Carter have been friends since they were young kids and their chemistry as musicians is incredible, so we all started to really fire on all cylinders at that point… We were collaborating a lot and able to explore ideas in a better way than the band ever had in the past. We always try to challenge ourselves and try new ideas with each record, but we were able to take that much further this time around.
Joshua BTS: Once you have a general blueprint of the songs- How much time and emphasis do you put on the revision process before entering the studio?
Ryan Patterson: We do a lot of revising, I do the initial demo, then we record practices, then we record demos of the songs at friends’ DIY studios, then we keep refining until we hit the studio. All of these songs had been demoed extensively with the full band, sometimes more than once, so by the time we went to the studio we were confident and familiar enough with the material to not only play it proficiently but also expand upon it easily.
Joshua BTS: I understand J. Robbins (Jawbox) of Magpie Studios is a friend of the band and even did a guest appearance on the record. What is the recording process like with J.? And where there any unexpected twists or turns, or new toys to play with being that Magpie was recently relocated and presumably upgraded?
Ryan Patterson: I first worked with J. over then years ago when he recorded my band Black Cross for our Art Offensive album and we’ve remained friends since then. He mixed Coliseum‘s House With A Curse and recorded half of our Parasites EP, as well as mixing that as well, so by the time we entered the studio with J. to record Sister Faith he was intimately familiar with Coliseum and we had a long history as collaborators.
The process with J. is wonderful, it’s easy and inspiring, he makes wonderful sounding records and his insight and creativity as a producer is incredible. It’s fun but also serious work, he’s as passionate and invested in the album as the members of the band. The new Magpie Cage location is a studio that used to house the legendary Oz Recording Studio, where J.’s band Jawbox recorded their For Your Own Special Sweetheart album, and it’s a spot he’d always had as his dream studio. The vibe and energy was wonderful, plenty of room to spread, a beautiful huge live room, amazing sounds and an all around incredible place. In terms of tools or toys, it was a pretty wide variety of stuff, from great amps and pedals that J. owns, his incredible 2″ tape machine, plus all the stuff we brought… It was really a dream come true.
Joshua BTS: Any unique or pivotal pieces of gear that is implemented in the studio that you feel is cornerstone of the current sound? The album has very dense but still clear prevailing tones. Is the final product how you envisioned it during the formative stages?
Ryan Patterson: The final product is actually far beyond what I had hoped or expected… It’s so much more than the sum of its parts, there’s such a specific mood and vibe that spreads across the album. It’s exactly what we wanted but also much more than we could’ve imagined. There were some fun pedals and synthesizers and tape delays we would come back to throughout the process, obviously all of the studio equipment was top notch, but ultimately it was about the creativity and capability of everyone involved that makes this album, or any album, what it is in the end.
Joshua BTS: With ten years now under your belt, tours throughout the world, a multitude of releases, and a respectable amount staying power throughout the underground scene- What are your current goals or aspirations for the future of the band?
Ryan Patterson: We just want to continue to make sincere music that we feel passionate about and have people that want to hear it and support us. We’ve been around quite a while and accomplished a lot, it’s kind of unbelievable really, but we are still a relatively small band and we couldn’t do any of this without the help of the great people that are involved with the band and the hard work all of us put into it. Sometimes I think that anything Coliseum has accomplished has been by sheer force of will, refusing to give up and always pushing ourselves to move forward.
We have been incredibly lucky to work with great people who have believed in our band and the music we make, from Greg at Level Plane Records and Gordon at Relapse Records, on up to Jeremy and the folks at Temporary Residence now, as well as labels we’re working with for the first time like Holy Roar Records in the UK and Daymare Records in Japan.
Anyone that puts out a record for your band has to be your biggest fan because they’re investing thousands of dollars with no guarantees that they’ll ever see that money come back, and in many cases it doesn’t. Without these people and the folks who put on our shows, buy our records and shirts, come out to see us play, the bands who take us on tour or open for us… Without all those folks we would have never been able to do any of what we’ve done. It’s never been particularly easy, we’ve had a lot of setbacks and dark times along the way, as any band does. We still struggle to make things work and be able to do this, but hopefully we can continue to follow this road as long as we feel inspired to do so and as long as anyone is there to listen.
Ryan Patterson: I am freelance graphic designer and I do a lot of design work for other bands, I’ve done that since the early 2000s and have been fortunate enough to design records and shirts for a lot of great bands. I also co-own a company called Shirt Killer that’s an official online store for a wide variety of bands. I do some additional art and design for myself, I’ve been involved with a few group and solo art shows, as well as all of Coliseum‘s visuals and design. I play in a couple of side project bands when Coliseum isn’t busy; Whips/Chains and Black God. I’m a huge movie fanatic, I love film and am very passionate about it, last Fall I started taking a couple of shifts a week at an amazing local indie video store called Wild & Woolly Video, which has been incredible. Other than that, I spent time with my wife, our cats, my friends and family. It’s a very good life.
Joshua BTS: Who crafted the Sister Faith‘s cover art? And did the band play an active role in the development of the visual elements pertaining to this forthcoming release?
Ryan Patterson: I have designed all of Coliseum‘s record covers and shirts including Sister Faith (except the True Quiet 7″ cover art which was by my friend John Baizley and the Parasites EP which was by Hot Snakes‘ Rick Froberg), so we do indeed have a very active role in the creation of our visual aesthetic. I wanted the band to have a very clear and identifiable visual approach from the start and our record covers and shirt designs have become synonymous with the band and developed alongside our music.
Joshua BTS: This is you second full-length release with Temporary Residence LTD– How did you come to link up with the label? And how has your relationship developed thus far?
Ryan Patterson: While Temporary Residence is based in Brooklyn now, the label started in Louisville and the label owner Jeremy DeVine is from Louisville originally. We didn’t really know each other when Jeremy lived here, but we came from the same scene and had many mutual friends, we had very similar roots. But I actually got to know Jeremy after my brother’s band Young Widows signed to Temporary Residence and I was involved in designing their album Old Wounds for the label. Jeremy and I corresponded a lot and crossed paths during that time, so when Coliseum was looking for a new label in 2009 he was one of the first people I talked to and sought his thoughts and opinions on the matter. Soon enough it seemed obvious that they were exactly what we were looking for and luckily Jeremy loved the demos for our new songs at the time. Since then we’ve become very close and it’s an incredible relationship. They’ve not only released House With A Curse and Sister Faith but also a deluxe reissue of our Goddamage EP, a split 7″ with Superchunk, and our Parasite 12″ EP, all in the span of three years. It’s been amazing so far and I excited about continuing to work together into the future.
Joshua BTS: What are some of the lyrical motifs fans will encounter on Sister Faith and how, if at all, does the album title correlate with these themes?
Ryan Patterson: Each song has its own personality and subject matter. The record tackles death, love, insecurity, crumbling relationships, thriving relationships, narratives about fear and loss, pessimistic outburst, passion and confusion, and lot of other subjects in between. The album title came from the title character of the song “Sister Faith,” it doesn’t necessarily sum up the record as a whole but felt like the right moniker for the album.
Joshua BTS: Coliseum has a series of European shows slated with Narrows. How did this pairing come about and any dates you are particularly looking forward to?
Ryan Patterson: I’m looking forward to all of them, it’s certain to be a great time. UK based label Holy Roar Records is releasing Sister Faith in Europe and the UK and we had the idea of tour the UK the week of the album’s release.
Narrows happened to be touring the same time and we paired up with them for a few shows, as well as a few shows on our own. Our history with Narrows goes back pretty far, we’re all “lifers” in punk bands… I’ve known Dave Verellen the longest, from when I put on shows for Botch in Louisville years ago, but Jodie Cox used to book Coliseum in the UK so we also have a long history together. All our paths have crossed many times over the years and it’s going to be really great to do that quick trip with those guys.
Joshua BTS: What does Coliseum have on the plate for the rest 2013?
Ryan Patterson: After we return from the UK, we start a headlining run of the Eastern half of North America, then meet up with Baroness for a couple of weeks of shows with them. After that we’re planning on touring Europe all summer, then Western North America after that, then more touring who knows where… Hopefully Japan and Australia.
Joshua BTS: Thank you kindly for taking with Blow The Scene readers today as we look forward to keeping up with your future endeavors. Any final thoughts as we sign off?
Ryan Patterson: Thank you very much for the interview, we appreciate it.
Interview by Blow The Scene Editor in Chief, Joshua T. Cohen
US fans pre-order Sister Faith at Temporary Residence LTD
UK fans pre-order Sister Faith at Holy Roar Records
UK fans pre-order Sister Faith at Daymare Records
Coliseum – “Bad Will” – Sister Faith LP