Coliseum Reveal How a Misogynistic Movie Inspired a New Song
There’s nothing subtle about Coliseum. The punk power trio’s aural assault overpowers anyone who comes across it. Their sleeve and T-shirt art also delivers — with the kind of death and doom type of stuff all Noisecreep readers can get behind. Guitarist-vocalist Ryan Patterson delivers Coliseum’s lyrics with such pointed rage; his unflinching confidence brings to mind Rollins-era Black Flag. He’s easily one of the most magnetic frontmen in the punk scene right now.
Coliseum will be releasing ‘House with a Curse,’ their third album, on June 22 through Temporary Residence Ltd. Noisecreep wanted to see what inspired some of the lyrics and imagery for the new record, so we spoke with Patterson and got the skinny. As you’ll see below, he’s got a bone to pick with Hollywood.
I didn’t get a lyric sheet with the album advance, but there are some really intriguing song titles on ‘House With a Curse.’ What inspired ‘Man Was Never Meant to Fly’?
‘Man Was Never Meant to Fly’ is lyrically the most straight forward song on the entire album — it’s about the fear of flying. It’s about all those fears, real or imagined, that come to mind when trapped in a jet at 30,000 feet. It’s also about fear of the unknown and the loss of control, be it in air or elsewhere.
Another song title that stands out is ‘Isela Vega.’ Doing some research for this interview, I read that she was a Mexican actress that appeared in Sam Peckinpah’s cult favorite ‘Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia’ back in the ’70s.
Yes, the title was inspired by the actress Isela Vega, specifically her character in the ‘Alfredo Garcia’ film. I’m a big fan of Peckinpah’s films, but it’s well known that he was possibly the most misogynistic director of the last 30-40 years, at least in terms of how he portrays his female characters on screen. (Although it seems that Lars Von Trier could now hold that unenviable title.) ‘Isela Vega’ is loosely about the character Elita in the film, but also the casual portrayal of violence against women in film and art. I think there’s room for all things to be portrayed in art, no matter how painful or controversial, but the ever-present idea of a female character as a victim, as a subject of violence, as the ‘whore with the heart of gold,’ etc.
It’s not only irresponsible; it’s simply worn out and unimaginative. All that said, the lyrics themselves are somewhat vague and definitely open to interpretation. When I write, there are many different ideas that come into play, and I love that the lyrics can adapt and be deciphered in ways I never initially intended.
Ryan, I know own and operate your own graphic design company. How much do you stress out about Coliseum’s cover art imagery? Tell us about the cover you chose for ‘House With a Curse.’
I honestly don’t stress out about Coliseum’s artwork all that much. I do so much design work that I’m always able to keep adapting and refining my style and tastes. So when it comes time to work on a Coliseum record, I usually have a fairly clear cut idea of what I’d like to do. After doing numerous Coliseum releases and shirts with my type of collage-based graphic design, I wanted to try something different for this record. For at least two years I’d been thinking about creating an image that was similar to my collage work, but with actual physical items in a photograph. From all my years of collecting various things on tour and rummaging through flea markets and junk stores with my wife, we’ve collected numerous skulls, bottles, bugs, birds, keys and various other things — some of which I’d been looking for specifically for this purpose.
Our good friend Nick Thieneman is the bass player of Young Widows and has become an incredible photographer, taking photos on tour and for his own art projects. So when the time came, I enlisted Nick and we brought all of the items you see in the photos down to the crawlspace under my house. I arranged them, we then lit them by candlelight, and finally Nick took the photos.
Did any one song on the album inspire the album art?
The album title relates to the photos in many ways — one of the inspirations for the title was the fact that someone killed themselves years ago in the room in my home where all of the songs for the record where written, then the photos were taken in the dirt beneath that room. We weren’t going for any type of black metal mentality with it all, but there’s definitely something strange and powerful in that knowledge.