Coliseum Carves Out a Legacy
suppose there is some truth in such opinions, but all of the talk about
label-hopping obscures the central truth of House
With a Curse: It’s a damn good record. It’s genre-defying in a way that
reminds me of SST’s mid-1980s catalog. Despite claims to the contrary, Coliseum
remains rooted in the aggression of hardcore. But there is a certain maturity
to the best material on the album that moves it beyond the realm of “shorter,
Coliseum vocalist/guitarist Ryan Patterson explains, “I don’t want to do the
same thing over and over again.”
that mentality, the band has drawn from a number of key influences (think of
the canons of both Touch and Go and Dischord) in a way that only strengthens
their own unique sound.
may also loom large here because the band called upon a host of scene veterans
to help make House With a Curse. J.
Robbins (Jawbox), Will Oldham and Peter Searcy (of the underrated Louisville band Squirrel
Bait) all make appearances throughout the album. Yet the decision to turn to
such musicians was not rooted in some attempt to drum up interest in the
record; it came out of wanting to work with their friends, particularly in what
Patterson describes as the “close-knit” Louisville
scene. According to Patterson, “The degrees of separation are so minor in Louisville” that it just made sense to include musicians
like Oldham, who is “part of our community.”
the presence of friends like Oldham in the
studio did not turn the making of the album into a feel-good, all-star jam
session; House With a Curse is a grim
affair. Songs like “Blind in One Eye” (a steamroller of a track), “Skeleton
Smile” and “Cloaked in Red” are replete with descriptions of time passing, of
things dying—and the pull of both memory and memorial.
themes come to a head in “Statuary,” a song that appropriates lines originally
penned by Vic Chesnutt and Rowland Stuart Howard, two artists who recently
lyrics for ‘Statuary’ were written after this time last year when a number of
people I admired died,” Patterson explains.
to home, Patterson found himself mourning the death of Sweet Cobra guitarist
Mat Arluck, who lost his fight with cancer in November 2009. Yet out of such
loss Patterson saw that the music of these artists would continue to exist.
“Your name,” Patterson sings as if addressing his departed friends, “your word,
your verse, your world, not lost to the statuary.”
light of such events, Patterson is quick to admit that he does “think a lot
about carving out a legacy” for both himself and his band. He wants to be able
to look at the records Coliseum has put out and confidently say, “This is what
I did. This is my imprint. This is my stamp.” It’s as if the events of the past
year have made him aware of what music can do, both for himself and for others
(it’s therefore not surprising that Patterson also explains House With a Curse as an attempt “to
return the gift that inspired me”).
insight allowed Patterson to make House
With a Curse on his own terms, and he is proud of the results. “I wanted to
make a statement,” Patterson concludes, “and this record is a statement.”
Coliseum tops a 6 p.m. show at the Borg Ward Collective on Saturday, Aug. 28, with Burning Love, Fight Amp and Enabler.