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 www.shirtkiller.com , 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 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 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 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, , 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 – , Jason Farrell, J Robbins, , 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, 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 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 Shirtkiller.com?
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 ... 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 Café 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!