Saturday, October 17, 2009

Ryan Patterson(Coliseum) Interview!!

Pic by Kacendre

Ryan Patterson is one busy dude. He is the vocalist/guitar player for the Louisville, KY hardcore punk band Coliseum, he runs Auxiliary Records and Auxiliary Design, and his "dayjob" is running , a place to find some of the coolest merch by some of the best bands around today. 

I met Ryan in 2004 on one of the first tours Coliseum did. Since then, I've seen Coliseum perform a handful of times and gotten to know Ryan a little better. His tough as nails appearance may be a little intimidating at first, but he is one of the nicest guys around. I recently sent him some questions via e mail and his responses are below. 

This fall, Coliseum, which also consists of bass player Mike Pascal and new drummer Carter Wilson, will be hitting the road with Young Widows(Ryan's brother Evan's band) and Russian Circles. Check out a show near you!!

Brandon Emerick: Methods of musical distribution seem to be changing drastically and rapidly. How do you prefer to obtain music for your own pleasure and what is your preferred method for putting out music by Coliseum?
Ryan Patterson: As far as my personal music buying goes, I still buy music, but not as often as even just a few years ago. I think this is partially because of my tastes in music and partially because of what’s coming out... I think there’s just less that speaks to me than there was in the past. This frightens me a bit, but there are still a lot of records coming out that I dig. I buy vinyl and CDs, I have only purchased two records on iTunes, one of which I couldn’t find elsewhere and the other I knew the artwork / packaging was going to be uninteresting. Obviously I put a lot of effort into the visual presentation of all Coliseum releases as well as the lyrics and want people to have an actual physical item to hold in their hands. Whether that’s a CD or an LP, it doesn’t really matter. That said, I certainly have the MP3 version of a number of records that I don’t actually own physically that I still love and listen to often. I think you can still become attached to music without holding its packaging in your hands, although the combination of imagery and music has always been very important in rock music since the 60s. 

BE: With these new methods of distribution, do you feel the "the album" is a thing of the past? Do you prefer whole albums or singles?
RP: I don’t believe the album is or will ever be a thing of the past, at least not for anything outside of the radio singles world. I absolutely prefer whole albums. I do love a great EP, especially a two or four song seven inch, but albums have always meant more to me.

BE: Do you have any certain medium you prefer to use to listen to music?
RP: I listen to iTunes and iPod almost exclusively these days, nearly my entire CD and LP collection is in my iTunes and if I buy a new LP I usually download it as well. I listen to CDs a bit when I first buy them, before putting them in the computer, and I listen to LPs at various times at home.

BE: You've designed many records for many bands. If you could design a record for any band, still together or not, who would it be?
RP: Hard to say, most bands I really love already have great layouts... If anything, I would love to put together collections for some of my favorite bands with tons of photos, liner notes, and images. There are a lot of records that come out these days that drop the ball in terms of imagery and packaging, which shocks me. It seems that now, more than ever, people need to put care and effort into physical music products to make them worth buying. So, I can’t name any names, but any time I buy something new with a boring, empty package, I wish I could’ve done something to make it at least a little more interesting.

BE: Is there a particular album or a few albums that contain your favorite artwork of all time?
RP: I really love all the Swiz and Bluetip records by Jason Farrell, all the Misfits records, the later Fugazi records, Bill Widener’s Laughing Hyenas covers, Ignition’s Machination, Soul Side’s Trigger, Gray Matter’s Food For Thought, honestly mostly every Dischord or Dischord related record from the mid 80s to mid 90s.  

BE: In your design work, you often use the fleur-de-lis, what is the significance of this?
RP: The image of three fleur-de-lis over the two solid bars was a nod to DC’s stars and bars and later the Dischord three X’s and bars mixed with Louisville’s city symbol which is three staggered fleur-de-lis inside circular text, because Louisville was a French settled city. We used this on some Black Cross, Coliseum and Breather Resist records, but eventually it just kind of faded out of use.

BE: While growing up in the Louisville area, who were some of your favorite bands?
RP: My favorite Louisville bands are Squirrel Bait, Bastro, The For Carnation, Shipping News, Endpoint, Falling Forward, Guilt, Crain, Bonnie Prince Billy, Wolverine Brass, Prideswallower and Young Widows.

BE: What were some of the first shows you ever went to?
RP: My first show was seeing Jawbox at a venue in Louisville called The Machine, I think it was in 92 or 93. From there it was seeing tons of local Louisville hardcore bands and whoever else was touring at the time. Seeing Lincoln in 93 or so was a really influential early show for me as well.

BE: You and your brother Evan(Young Widows) are serious musicians. Do you guys come from a very musical family/background?
RP: Not particularly, but I imagine it must be in our blood in some way, because our cousin Matt Jaha was Coliseum’s original drummer and also Lords’ bass player for a while, and he’s a virtuoso guitarist. Supposedly we had a great, great grandfather who played guitar, my Dad’s father told us that his father’s father’s thumb had been halfway cut off on his picking hand, but the nail still grew out... So he used it as his pick for acoustic guitar. I don’t know if that’s a tall tale or truth, but it’s a good story. We did grow up completely immersed in rock music, our Dad saw all the 60s and 70s greats and we grew up playing his LPs and 45s. I think just about anyone can learn to play an instrument if they put the time in, but some levels of creativity and rhythm can’t be taught... It has to be inside you somewhere.

BE: Can you play any instruments besides guitar?
RP: I can obviously also play the bass guitar, I’ve played bass in a few bands years ago and I always fancied myself as good or better at bass as I am at guitar. I’ve been taking piano lessons for the past few months, it’s something I’ve wanted to do for many years and it’s been very rewarding. It’s changing my musical perspective quite a bit and giving me a new way to write and express ideas. But I’ll always be primarily in love with guitars and amps.

BE: What is your dream guitar/amp setup?
RP: I’m generally a Marshall/Gibson man, so I would say an early 70s Les Paul Custom with a couple of Marshall JMPs or early 800s. At this point I have pretty much my dream gear though, some great vintage equipment and incredible custom made guitars and amps.  

BE: What musical achievement are you most proud of?
RP: In general, I’m most proud of Coliseum, the records we’ve put out and the touring we’ve done. Specifically, I suppose my favorite records from my discography are Coliseum’s No Salvation and Goddamage, and Black Cross’ Art Offensive. I always seem to love whatever I’ve done recently the most, then quickly move on from it.

BE: Who were/are some people in the independent music scene that you really look up to?
RP: My heroes are mostly DC people, my prime influences – Ian MacKaye, Jason Farrell, J Robbins, Henry Rollins, probably a ton of others... Some of whom have become friends of mine over the years, some of whom I’ll probably never meet. Over the years, I’ve also been really lucky to know some people that I really love and respect as peers behind the scenes in music, like Gordon Conrad at Relapse, Kelley Cox my partner in Shirt Killer, Jeremy DeVine at Temporary Residence, Dan Sandshaw at Equal Vision, Greg Drudy at Level Plane, Andy Rich at Initial, a lot of great people that I’ve been lucky to work with.

BE: What are some of your favorite places, venues or cities, in the U.S. to play?
RP: My number one favorite place to play in North America is Toronto, outside of that, Chicago, New York, Gainesville, Austin, San Francisco... The biggest music cities are usually obviously the best places to play. Every place has its good and bad nights, we just take it as it comes.

BE: This past year, Coliseum put out a skateboard deck. Where did the idea for this come from?
RP: We all grew up as skateboarders, for me it was my entrance to punk and hardcore via Thrasher magazine and the music on skate videos. So making skateboards for our bands is one of those things that feels like completing the circle for us. 

BE: What does the future hold for Coliseum, Auxiliary Records, and
RP: Coliseum is working on our next album, writing a lot and following a lot of new ideas. We’re turning down tours now and focusing solely on the record, once it’s completed we’ll start to get back out on the road. Auxiliary is putting out a reissue of Young Widows’ Settle Down City LP and might be reissuing Goddamage on 12” as well, but other than that no major plans. Shirt Killer is busy and doing great, selling awesome shirts for awesome bands, and we’ll continue to do that.

BE: What is your current top 40 guilty pleasure??
RP: Top 40 music? Honestly, I am completely out of the loop when it comes to any current popular music, I don’t have cable and the only radio I listen to is NPR... But, on a long trip recently we were scanning the radio and I heard about a minute of a Miley Cyrus song, “Party In The USA” I think, and it was pretty tough with a really heavy synth bassline. I can’t say it’s a guilty pleasure because I only heard a bit of it once, but I dug what I heard.

COLISEUM Tour Dates:
10/28/09 - Covington, KY @ Mad Hatter w/ Russian Circles, Young Widows 
10/29/09 - Atlanta, GA @ The Earl w/ Russian Circles, Young Widows 
10/30/09 - Gainesville, FL @ Common Grounds / The Fest w/ Coalesce, Torche, Russian Circles, Young Widows and more 
10/31/09 - Orlando, FL @ Backbooth w/ Russian Circles, Young Widows 
11/02/09 - Birmingham, AL @ Bottletree CafĂ© w/ Russian Circles, Young Widows 
11/03/09 - Baton Rouge, LA @ Spanish Moon w/ Russian Circles, Young Widows 
11/04/09 - Little Rock, AR @ Juanita's w/ Russian Circles, Young Widows 
11/05/09 - Denton, TX @ Rubber Gloves w/ Russian Circles, Young Widows 
11/06/09 - Houston, TX @ Rudyard's Pub w/ Russian Circles, Young Widows 
11/07/09 - Austin, TX @ Waterloo Park / Fun Fun Fun Fest w/ Jesus Lizard, Melt Banana, Flipper, Russian Circles, Young Widows and more!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Millions of Brazilians on Tour!!

So, to be completely honest with myself and my few readers, I have a very hard time thinking of the best thing to write about this band. I happen to be close friends with vocalist/guitarist Nick Cicchetti and I know that a relationship like this can sometimes influence one's opinion of a band. But I can genuinely say, Millions of Brazilians have the drive, skill, and sincerity that many bands lack! Nick is supported by guitarist Derek Dorey and drummer Zozzy Gruse. All three members have payed their dues and honed their chops playing in local Detroit bands since they learned how to strum a guitar and beat a drum. They formed their current project, Millions of Brazilians, about two years ago and haven't looked back. In February 2009, the band released a 7 song EP entitled "Half Horse/ Half Horse" on vinyl and via digital download from Itunes, Amazon, and Emusic. And very recently, MOB released a split 7 inch with The Gay Blades. I feel that the music is diverse but fits nicely under the umbrella of "dance punk" or "post punk". Lots of jagged guitars and fun as hell high hat beats accompany Nick's witty tongue in cheek lyrics. When watching the band live, you may feel the urge to dance, but also the urge to later look into just what Nick is singing about. 

This fall, the boys are hitting the road with Detroit's Electric Six. The tour marks the first nationwide trek for the band and is a coming out party of sorts. They have conquered Detroit and are now ready to take on the nation. I recently had a chance to exchange e mails with vocalist and guitarist Nick Cicchetti. Here is what he had to say...

MP3's and tour dates following the interview.

Brandon Emerick: Where did you come up with the name Millions of Brazilians?
Nick Cicchetti:George W. Bush thought that there was such a thing as " A Brazilian", as in currency. We thought that was funny, hence the name.

BE: Do you feel like not having a bass player limits your sound?
NC: Actually, no. Not having a bass player has opened a lot of doors in terms of creativity. Meaning we constantly are problem solving and/or trying new tones, pedals, ect. Often times it just comes down to raw cohesiveness; Is the composition strong? Does it translate? So in a sense, not having a bass player has forced us into becoming better musicians.

BE: What are some advantages and disadvantages of not having a bass player?
NC: Well, I guess an advantage would be just having more room on stage and less gear, haha. A disadvantage is that there are only three of us so there is no margin for error. Sometimes having that extra member gives you a bit of "cushion", we unfortunately do not have that luxury.

BE: Do you feel like being from and living in the city of Detroit influences your sound?
NC: Honestly, Detroit is a new city. It's not the garage band mecca it once was. It's diverse and up for grabs. So much good music has come out of the hardship that musically, the city has a heartbeat again, only this time it's sincere. Detroit has influenced anyone that makes art and lived there....even if they don't realize it yet. That is art in its most honest form and what everyone should strive to make.

BE: As a band, what has been your personal favorite show played so far and why?
NC: I can't really pick one show. Foals, Avett brothers, Von Bondies, and French Kicks are the shows that come to mind. Those were a blast.

BE: When you're not playing music, what are some of you favorite things to be doing?
NC: I'm really into history podcasts as of late. Also, playing hockey or softball with my friends when I get the chance.

BE: If you could tour with any band, still together or not, who would it be and why?
NC: Man, It'd be great to tour with DFA 1979, I think we would have went great together. Suicide, The Stooges, and Arthur Brown are all on the dream team list. Rock and Roll + Theatrics + Sexual Ambiguity = A Good Time! HA!

BE: If money was not an object, what would your amp/instrument setup be?
NC: Probably pretty close to what I have, with some minor upgrades. Fender combos, Telecasters, and tons of boutique pedals. Please and Thank You.

BE: Where do you draw most of your inspiration for writing music from?
NC: Lately, it's been from my experiences living in Detroit and seeing first hand what the city is all about, the good and bad. Along with other random personal experiences. Sometimes I end up writing random songs that are just made up stories. I feel like I don't have control of what inspires me, It really could be anything.

BE: (In the voice of Arnold Schwartzanager) Who is your daddy and what does he do?
NC: Papa C just opened a biker bar in Detroit. He's really a bad ass now, just ask him.

All dates with The Electric Six

Brillo Box 
Pittsburgh, PA

Penny Arcade 
Rochester, NY 

Hiro Ballroom 
New York, NY

Middle East - Downstairs 
Cambridge, MA

Brooklyn, NY

Johnny Brenda's 
Philadelphia, PA

Black Cat 
Washington, DC

V Club 
Huntington, WV

Cat's Cradle 
Carrboro, NC

Charlotte, NC

The Earl 
Atlanta, GA

Jack Rabbits 
Jacksonville, FL

The Engine Room 
Tallahassee, FL

Culture Room 
Fort Lauderdale, FL

The Social 
Orlando, FL

Nashville, TN

Bottle Tree 
Birmingham, AL

Another comic book for grown ups...

I guess you could say that I've been on a comic book kick lately. After reading "The Living And The Dead" by Jason, I checked the library catalog to see what other Jason comic books they had. Apparently his stuff is pretty sought after because almost everything of his that the library has was checked out or on the holdshelf. I put a hold on a few of his books for myself, and now I'm writing to tell you about the first one that became available to me.

The title of the book is "I Killed Adolf Hitler". I chose not to use a picture of the cover of the book because there is a swastika prominently displayed. While the story does obviously involve Adolf Hitler, I feel that the use of the swastika front and center on the cover was unnecessary and in kind of poor taste. My complaints about the book stop there. The only other thing I have for it is praise.

This is a story set in a reality where hit-man is as common a profession as doctor or lawyer. Our main character is a hit-man who is propositioned with a job to kill Adolf Hitler, as the title suggests. The catch is, the story is set in modern times. Therefore, the hit-man must travel back in time 70 years to accomplish his mission. Things get challenging when Hitler sneaks into the hit-man's time machine and travels into the future 70 years, entering modern day reality while leaving the hit-man in the past. This simple setup may lead you to believe you have an idea of what happens. You don't. The story is wildly creative and surprisingly awesome. 

Overall, this story is satire and dark humor, much like "The Living And The Dead". I found myself laughing out loud pretty often during this comic book. The main difference between this book and "The Living And The Dead" is the use of color and dialogue. The characters are still human bodies with animal heads. But in this book, they're talking. The best thing about the dialogue though is it's brevity. Jason managed to say a whole lot without saying too much. Since there isn't too much dialogue, I whizzed through the comic, but did find myself going back and further inspecting the artwork. As you can see above, it is simple but effective artwork. Nothing too fancy, but the story isn't very fancy. Simple comedy is one of the hardest styles of comedy to use. Jason has nailed it here. And although the book on the surface is simple, there is still room to read between the lines and take away something unique depending on your personality. 

Do yourself a favor and check this comic and this artist out. It will only take a few minutes to read, but will leave you thinking about it for days to come. I'm sure I'll be writing about more Jason comics as they become available to me through the library. If you'd like to buy Jason's comics, you can find them here. If you don't want to spend the money, check your local library. It's worth it.