By Nate "Igor" Smith
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If you Google Louisville hardcore punk band Coliseum, you'll find several dozen reviewers tripping over themselves to compare the power trio's overtly political, vitriolic, venomous speed rock to British thrash pioneers Motörhead and hardcore stalwarts Discharge. And as the saying goes, where there's smoke, there's fire.
"Those are probably the easiest two bands to compare us to," admits Ryan Patterson, Coliseum's singer/guitarist and sole original member. Reached by phone, he's on a brief respite from the band's globetrotting tour in support of No Salvation, its third album and first for high-profile metal label Relapse. "That's probably my own fault because that was a common reference used when we released our first album four years ago. I haven't name-dropped either band since then. These days I think it's just lazy journalism."
Patterson goes on to point out Swedish anarchist punk group Avskum as the main inspiration for starting the band, along with Midwest (Replacements, Pegboy) and East Coast postpunk (the Dischord catalogue). But direct musical influences miss the big picture in his view. "As we've gone on, it's been much less about focusing on any one band or sound, more about finding our own voice, which I think we began to do with [the band's second album] Goddamage, and accomplished on No Salvation."
The person who helped Coliseum find its groove was drummer Chris Maggio, a South Florida music scene expat who a few years ago could be regularly found at Churchill's, pounding the skins for AC Cobra and playing guitar for the Heatseekers. "We were on tour with a fill-in drummer, and Dave Witte from Municipal Waste called and told me he had the perfect drummer for us," Patterson explains. "We were on tour with Torche, and they knew him well and had great things to say about him. I sent him the record, he drove up to Louisville to audition, and, needless to say, he was the best drummer we'd ever played with and he got the job."
Another blessing Patterson counts is their deal with Relapse records, which has given them traction in the often-unforgiving metal scene. Although being the token punk band on a metal label is, according to Patterson, "strange at times," he says opportunities and liberties afforded by the pairing are infinite. "I've always felt like an outsider and an underdog, especially within the context of music scenes and genres," he says. "We have the freedom to do whatever we want musically and tour with a really wide variety of bands."