‘Yes, I Am Fired Up’

Coliseum released their fifth full-length album, “Anxiety’s Kiss,” this week on vinyl, CD and cassette. The ever-evolving band has added more industrial and dark wave tones to their steady diet of hardcore and post-punk. The album finds them collaborating again with producer/engineer J. Robbins, an early inspiration to the band from his days playing in the bands Jawbox and Burning Airlines. Coliseum founder, guitarist and vocalist Ryan Patterson says Robbins “feels like our George Martin,” and the reference to the Beatles and their later, more experimental studio recordings reveals Patterson’s restless need to consistently try new ideas and a refusal to be boxed in by others’ perceptions.

Coliseum_by_Nick ThienemanHe told The Voice-Tribune more about how Coliseum’s new album came together. “Our influences are wide-ranging, individually and as a band, but there’s always a general connection revolving around British post-punk and American post-hardcore of the Dischord and Touch and Go variety,” Patterson says. “Personally, I’ve been greatly inspired over the past four to five years by Rowland S. Howard and his music, both solo and with Crime and the City Solution and Lydia Lunch. His influence as a guitarist weighed heavy on me during the ‘Anxiety’s Kiss’ sessions.”

The album is their first to be distributed by Deathwish Inc. Patterson has had close ties to the label since before Coliseum started in 2003. “They are all part of our extended community through music, and we feel so incredibly fortunate that we have such wonderful people that are willing to release our music.”

Do you agree that songwriters, in any genre, aren’t using topics like police brutality and other social ills like they did 20 years or 50 years ago? How have you stayed on course when others have fallen off?

I don’t necessarily agree with that. I think it’s being pushed away from mainstream music and art. There’s very little outlet in that world for a dissenting voice,  because there’s very little money in it. But it’s there, whether it’s from Run the Jewels or Coliseum. There are artists addressing these things, especially in the underground, where it is always being tackled. It’s actually harder for me not to sing about social issues. It’s more of a challenge to write about other topics, because the injustice of oppression is never-ending and always fodder for songs.

How do you approach writing about love and lust?

I write about those subjects from direct personal perspectives and from more abstract dramatic narratives. I find the different perspectives to be inspiring and interesting, enabling me to explore ideas in ways that don’t always directly involve my personal experiences but are shaped by my perspective and imagination. I find the songs of love important to write, because love is such a powerful thing – something that we are very lucky if we have it in our lives – yet so many songs about love are trite and hollow. On the darker side, songs like the two centerpieces of “Anxiety’s Kiss,” “Dark Light Of Seduction” and “Sharp Fang, Pale Flesh,” each deal with forms of obsession through two different narratives. Ideas of shadows, submission and possession.

This collection includes some of your most melodic material so far. Do you feel that you are mellowing with age at all? Or are you more fired up than ever, and just showing it in different ways?

While we are generally operating in the realm of guitar-based music and have always stuck by our roots as a punk band, we have never felt that we needed to hold ourselves to any rules of genre, or specific trappings set by expectations or our own previous material. We try our best to not repeat ourselves. We also learn as we go along – we learn new ways to use our instruments and our voices. Melody is not inherently mellow or boring; I find that to be a silly concept. The music we are making now is more dynamic and interesting to me than the music we made a decade ago, with more nuance and more depth. To answer the question, yes, I am fired up. I feel that with “Anxiety’s Kiss,” and “Sister Faith” before it, Coliseum is on fire and we are making the best music we have ever made.

Coliseum plays at the New Vintage on Friday, June 5. For more information, visit www.coliseumsoundsystem.com. VT