Published May 12, 2010The new album by Louisville, KY noisemakers Coliseum is the auditory equivalent of shifting a drag race car into all-wheel drive for some off-road mud-bogging. House with a Curse, the band's follow-up to 2007's blazing No Salvation, is a methodical rock record that's almost the complete opposite to the D-beat-inspired hardcore of its predecessor. But as vocalist/guitarist Ryan Patterson recently explained in an Exclaim! interview, it was time to move on.
"We didn't really set out to do anything particularly different, but anytime a band starts to feel pigeonholed they'll probably push themselves out in a different direction," Patterson says. "We'd been covering the same ground for all of our other records, and it kind of felt with No Salvation that we'd gone as far as we could go with that."
Most would agree that No Salvation was the pinnacle of the band's fast, heavy sound, and House with a Curse, out June 22 on Temporary Residence, may be a left-field-sounding follow-up. The new record now follows the path of some of Patterson's favourite bands growing up, namely early Dischord and Touch and Go groups, but ultimately, it was a songwriting shift that Coliseum needed to keep things interesting for themselves, starting with a completely different writing process.
"When I started writing this new record, I wanted to come with a clean slate," says Patterson. "For this one, I wanted to start writing all the songs on bass and drums first. We'd never done that before; we usually start with guitar riffs and go from there. I was kind of tired of writing like that, I wanted a groove and everything powered by the rhythm section. It was more of an organic writing process."
House with a Curse was produced by the band and recorded by friend Kevin Ratterman (ex-Elliott) at his Funeral Home Studios, located in an actual funeral home in Louisville. The album was mixed by J. Robbins (Jawbox) and features a host of guest appearances, including Robbins, Jason Noble (Shipping News, Rodan, Rachels), Peter Searcy (Squirrel Bait) and Carrie Neumayer (Second Story Man, Minnow). Most notable is a guest vocal spot by Will Oldham (aka Bonnie "Prince" Billy), if only for the fact that the singer had never contributed to such a hard-rocking project before. In fact, his haunting refrains on the track "Skeleton Smile" are some of the album's most memorable moments.
"The guests were mostly just friends from town. I'm not really friends with Will [Oldham], but my brother [Evan Patterson of Breather Resist] and I know him from putting on a show for him," Patterson says. "We did a show for Will at a church and it was awesome; it's one of my favourite shows I've been involved in, so I know him a little bit. I just wrote him and asked him to be on the record and he said that singing is his favourite thing to do, and he appreciated the offer. He guest appears on all sorts of stuff, but he'd never done anything like this. We asked him, 'Have you ever sung on a song like this,' and he said, 'Absolutely not.' But it was cool."
House with a Curse has the three members of Coliseum - Patterson, bassist Mike Pascal, and new drummer Carter Wilson - moving from Relapse Records over to a new home at Temporary Residence. The radical shift in record labels makes sense given the decidedly moodier, darker and less-metal sounds on the new album, but according to Patterson, the album was originally meant to be their sophomore effort for Relapse, before the band and label had a business-related falling out.
"We left the label as friends, Gordon [Conrad, Relapse label manager] and I are 100 percent still close friends, but it's just one of those things, you know," he says. "There was an issue that came up after we'd booked recording dates. We signed to them for a lot of money; money we didn't necessarily need, but money is thrown at you, so you take it, you know. And then down the road the industry goes in the shitter, and that amount of money isn't realistic anymore. So we became free agents, if you will, and Relapse made us another offer, but we decided to go somewhere else. We knew Jeremy [deVine] at Temporary Residence and there are no contracts with him, it's all on good faith, and it's a 50/50 split, so went with that. Once Relapse heard demos and heard us play the songs [from the new album], they wanted to put out the record, and they were bummed. But we felt like Temporary Residence was better for us."
Coliseum are busy working on a video shoot for the track "Blind in One Eye," which is available for free download here. They are also gearing up to tour the Eastern U.S. and Canada in late June with none other than Toronto rock-hardcore band Burning Love, featuring Chris Colohan, formerly of Cursed, on vocals. The two bands are also planning some yet-to-be-announced western dates in August/September.
House with a Curse could be a radical downshift for some - one that might even lose Coliseum some of their more extreme fans along the way. But for those who stick around, House with a Curse is the kind of album that could resonate for years.
"I definitely did not want to alienate our fans, but if you don't like it, or you move on, that's okay," explains Patterson. "There's no reason for anyone to feel ill will about that, from a fan standpoint or a band standpoint, because people just move onward. I have no idea what the next Coliseum record will sound like, or the next song, but it will always be from us, and it will always be sincere."
House with a Curse:
2. "Blind in One Eye"
3. "Everything to Everyone"
4. "Crime and the City"
5. "Cloaked in Red"
6. "Perimeter Man"
7. "Skeleton Smile"
8. "Isela Vega"
9. "Lost in Groningen"
11. "Man Was Never Meant to Fly"
6/18 Louisville, KY - Skull Alley
6/25 Birmingham, AL - The Bottletree #
6/26 Atlanta, GA - The Earl #
6/27 Gainesville, FL - The Atlantic #
6/28 Tampa, FL - Transitions #
6/29 Orlando, FL - The Backbooth #
6/30 Savannah, GA - The Jinx #
7/1 Spartanburg, SC - Ground Zero #
7/2 Charlotte, NC - The Milestone #
7/3 Richmond, VA - The Bike Lot #
7/4 Baltimore, MD - Ottobar #
7/6 Philadelphia, PA - The Barbary #
7/7 Bethlehem, PA - Secret Art Space #
7/8 Brooklyn, NY - Europa #
7/9 Allston, NY - Great Scott #
7/10 Montreal, QC - Friendship Cove #
7/11 Ottawa, QC - Maverick's (18+) #
7/12 Toronto, ON - Parts & Labor #
7/13 Syracuse, NY - Wescott Community #
7/14 Cleveland, OH - Grop Shop #
7/15 Detroit, MI - Smalls (21+) #
7/16 Dayton, OH - Blind Bob's #
7/17 Toledo, OH - Frankie's #
# with Burning Love