The Professor's Evening with Coliseum

Sunday I went to the Napalm Death show at Key Club to meet up with Ryan from COLISEUM. I took punk photog Edward Colver because Ryan has done some t shirt designs for him. I was excited to meet Ryan, as was Edward, and Ryan was excited to meet Edward, but nobody was excited to meet me.

We watched COLISEUM’s crushing set—their second of the day. Giant power chords, barking vocals, no drum triggers and subsonic bass that reminded me of Electric Wizard for some reason. The band was intense, every song bleeding into the next on a wave of momentum. Maybe I didn’t want to meet Ryan. He looked pretty scary.

I was wrong as he turned out to be a very nice guy, and demanded we go to Astroburger to meet his vegan requirements. We forgot about the one on Santa Monica so we drove to Melrose east of Cahuenga. Edward narrated the punk history tour. COLISEUM’s drummer Chris came along, and despite his bruising set, he was still a ball of energy. This is a guy who travels with a bicycle in a van just so he can get some exercise and stay sane. A drummer’s drummer.

We were talking t shirts, punk, art, commerce and music. It wasn’t really an interview, and I wasn’t taking notes. But if you’re a COLISEUM fan, here’s the bullet point version of our conversation as it related to typical interview fare. The upshot is that these guys were super cool, work damn hard and bleed integrity:

  • Ryan grew up on punk, not metal. His goal was to play guitar in a punk band, and I’d say he’s pretty much succeeded and then some.
  • He’s huge fan of DC punk, including everything from the Teen Idles and Bad Brains up to Fugazi and later Dischord stuff. Also mentioned Pegboy, the remainders of early Naked Raygun.
  • He doesn’t play a lot of solos, if any, but his songs are infused with some intentional subtle melodic elements. We lamented how Helmet could inspire a whole genre of bands that stole only the rhythm guitar and none of the melody or weirdness.
  • He’s not a party guy. He tours more than most any Relapse band. The entire band, their merch guy, all the gear and Chris’s bike fit in one van. They were off to SF Monday morning, then all night driving to Portland.
  • There’s always one slutty looking girl hanging around after the show. Some guy from Toxic Holocaust usually walks away with her. Tonight Chris was surprised that it was somebody else, but still somebody from Toxic Holocaust.