Coliseum No Salvation

Coliseum No Salvation
It may have taken a little too long for some but Louisville, KY’s Coliseum have finally unleashed their second full-length record, the crushingly heavy and surprisingly original No Salvation. Not the same crusty d-beat band they were at the time of their self-titled debut in 2004, Coliseum have further amalgamated the varying influences of their members, bringing in far more in the way of rock’n’roll to their heavy mix of hardcore, punk and reliable ol’ d-beat. Kurt Ballou’s production work enhances the oppressively doom-y feel of the band’s punishing mini-epics, most noticeably during the grim finale of "Profetas.” "Shake It Off” is about as hard as they come here, a stunningly brief onslaught of pounding drums, squealing feedback and a heavily distorted vocal attack. New drummer Chris Maggio adds some great flourishes throughout, tapping out interesting cymbal patterns during the record’s heaviest breakdowns. A powerful collection of songs that span punk and hardcore’s heavy subgenres, No Salvation is the sound of band that are worth a lot more than half-assed Motörhead comparisons.

With this record there seems to be more parts that have a straight rock’n’roll edge. Is that indicative of changing tastes or a deliberate shift in direction?
Vocalist/guitarist Ryan Patterson: I don’t think it was a conscious effort. Our first album is just a band trying to emulate their influences, and kind of having a bit of personality. I think the first record is cool but it’s derivative. I think with the Goddamage EP, we defined a little more personality by trying to write different kinds of songs. I think it’s just more of who we are as people showing up. I listen to Archers of Loaf more than I listen to Discharge. Which is not to say I’m not into those heavy hardcore influences, because I am. But I think what I listen to and what comes out with our music are a little more varied than people sometimes think.

Do you think Coliseum have developed a separate personality from other projects you’ve worked on?
Yeah, definitely. There are probably more things I’ve done that don’t represent me, like Black Cross. But even with Coliseum, if you listen to the demos I did for this record, and then how they changed once we assembled them as a band, you could see the vibe that develops because of everyone’s involvement. Both Mike [Pascal, bassist] and Chris have had a massive effect on this record and how it’s come out.

Your record release show was a few weeks ago. How was it?
It was pretty good. It was okay. Louisville’s kind of… I don’t know. I don’t want to insult Louisville. Sometimes it’s a little behind the times though. Bands that might draw well elsewhere don’t draw well here. Louisville is not one of our better cities. I don’t know why but we tend to do better out of town. I think a lot of bands are like that.

I have this perception of Louisville being this insane Mecca of splendour. Is there just not the support for all the bands from Louisville from an audience perspective?
We know a lot of great bands. There are a lot bands here that are connected. Almost every band from Louisville is connected in some way, shape or form. Whether it’s Coliseum and Lords, or all the indie rock bands, we’re all one step away from those bands. All the musicians are tightly connected. Pretty much everybody in Louisville is in a band. There are so many bands and so many people playing music that I think that even though everyone supports everyone else, I don’t know if there’s a lot of actual physical support: buying a record or going to a show. And I’m guilty of it, too. There are plenty of bands that I love but I’m home from tour for two weeks and sometimes I can’t pull myself out of my comfort zone to go to a club. I don’t know if it’s Louisville’s problem or if it’s on a national level. I think local scenes are kind of dead. In the last few years with the internet, I don’t think people are as concerned about their local scenes as they are with what’s going on a national level.

Do you notice that in other places you play?
It’s hard for me to tell in other towns, because obviously we’re only in town for a night. But I think it’s everywhere. When I first got into music and started going to shows in the early ’90s, local scenes were huge. Bands that were virtually unknown in Louisville would draw hundreds of people and sell tons of records in Chicago. These days, it doesn’t seem like that. Bands tend to just pop up and get known on a national scale at the same time that they get known in their hometown.

Do you credit that to the proliferation of music through the internet and MySpace?
I think so. I think it’s pre-MySpace. A band can play a few shows and go on tour and suddenly everyone knows who they are. It’s made touring easier. You don’t even have to use a phone to book a tour. I haven’t used a phone to book a tour in five or six years. And that’s great. Because of that, it’s a different world.

It’s interesting to me because I was in Louisville a few days after your record release show and was a little disappointed I missed the show because I imagined that it must have been crazy. And it turns out it would have been just like seeing you in Toronto.
It actually would have been worse.

Really?
Our last show in Toronto was one of the best shows we’ve ever done. It was off the chain. Louisville is just kind of lacklustre. And that’s okay. I got a little bummed on it, but that’s okay. It’s interesting. Sometimes I wonder why that’s the case but it’s just how it is.

I wanted to ask you about the visual aesthetic for this record, because obviously the cover imagery is really strong. How much of that is a reflection of the lyrical content and how much of it, seeing as design is an important part of what you do, is intended to stand alone?
I don’t really think the record… I don’t know. I don’t want to say that the title and album art are meant to sum up the statement that the album makes, because I don’t try to make blanket statements. I’d prefer the idea in each song be taken on its own, rather than just say that "this record is about the downfall of humanity.” Those are thoughts that are in the record but the title is… I don’t know. It might be ridiculous for me to say that it’s meant to be vague because the album art is pretty bold. But we didn’t say, "Here’s the idea of the album. Let’s do this.” To me, the album title and record art are just other ideas and statements about how we feel. But I also wouldn’t put too much stock in it because we also do things because we think they’re cool. It’s not like, "This skull above a crumbled capital building is what we fucking stand for!” I like to do things because I think they’re fun. I don’t want people to think we take ourselves so seriously. A skull on a record cover has been done a thousand times, and I think it looks fucking awesome. I think it’s possible to think something’s fucking cool on an instinctual level without being too intellectual about it.

I think that’s it in terms of questions, unless there’s anything you want to add that you think is pertinent.
Hmm. I don’t know. You kind of caught me at a weird… I’m kind of in a different mindset right now about things. We touched on the Louisville show, and that was kind of a disappointment for me. I had to recoil from that a little bit. So I hope the answers don’t come off as too dull or negative.

No, it seems more contemplative than anything.
Okay. It’s weird. The record is out, and we’re doing all this stuff, and we leave for that High on Fire tour this week, and your perspective on the band and what you do is so different when you’re at home than when you’re out on tour playing the songs every night. The record’s come out and the whole time I’ve been at home preparing for tour and doing interviews and doing all these things outside of what being in a band is really about. So I guess my perspective right now is more contemplative than anything. Once we get out on tour, I’ll be in full-on Coliseum mode, ready to run people over, but right now I feel like I’m just watching it happen.

Is it making you excited for the tour or do you feel some degree of trepidation?
Oh, I’m so excited. It’s going to be so relaxing for us to get out there and tour with no pressure. We’re the opening band and we have no responsibilities each night besides showing up and playing. I’m excited to get back in that mode of having tunnel vision: "Get to the show, play the show. Nothing else matters.” Right now there are all those other band things, which are cool, but having to hear about sales reports and things, it just fucks with your head. I saw our friends in another band, who were asking — not in a shitty way — "Oh, did you get your Soundscan reports?” And I’m just like, "Man, I just don’t want to know that stuff.” Reading reviews, seeing what the fans are saying, seeing what the detractors are saying, I think what you do is so much less pure when you have all these other people telling you what it is or telling you what they think about it. If I never saw a review of my record ever again the next one would be so much better for it because I wouldn’t think about what someone else had to say about it. And I read reviews and I’ve written reviews so it’s cool and it’s all a part of what we do. But no matter what, it lodges itself in the back of your head.

It is the interesting thing about the creation of art — that everyone gets to have their say and dissect it insistently.
And the internet has changed that, for better or for worse. All art is out there in a public forum and everyone can have their say about it, for better or for worse. I think the way it’s created is different, too. And it’s okay, I’m just trying to coast through it. I feel like the less I see about what I do the better it is though. (Relapse)