No two records in Coliseum’s catalog sound quite the same. The hardcore punk band, which was founded in 2003 by Lousville, Ky., musician Ryan Patterson, has released five distinct, disparate records — the most recent of those being this year’s well-received Anxiety’s Kiss. The group’s sound has transformed over the course of their career, shifting from the abrasive end of the punk spectrum to something considerably more melodic. If you’re looking for a point of reference, try Toronto-based punks F****d Up, who visited Birmingham’s Spring Street Firehouse earlier this summer.
Coliseum drummer (and Birmingham mainstay, along with Coliseum bandmate Kayhan Vaziri) Carter Wilson was at that show, and he’ll be present, of course, at Coliseum’s show at Saturn on Tuesday night. Speaking ahead of that show, Wilson discussed the Birmingham music scene, Coliseum’s constant motion, and balancing the two.
Weld: How long have you been a part of Birmingham’s music scene?
Wilson: I’ve been heavily involved in Birmingham’s music scene for the last 12-ish years of my life. I’ve always lived there and played in bands from Birmingham. I worked at Bottletree for many years; I work at Saturn currently. Coliseum tours quite a bit, but not for enough time to where I feel any disconnection from Birmingham at all. I’m constantly going to shows and playing shows and working shows when I’m at home. I’ve been very deeply rooted in it for a long time now.
Weld: Coliseum’s sound drastically shifts from record to record. Is there a conscious desire to mix things up with each album, or is it a more organic process?
Wilson: It seems totally natural to us. People seem to make more of a big deal about it every time a record comes out, but I don’t think we dwell on it as much as other people do. Our newest record, Anxiety’s Kiss, is pretty interesting because it’s now the only Coliseum record with the same line-up on it as the last record. The members that are in the band now have been on the two most current records. That’s nice for us because we actually got to evolve the sound as a solid line-up.
There’s not one particular idea [that goes into the sound of a record]. We’ve been heading in a more melodic direction since I’ve been in the band, which is the last six years. To me, it feels natural that it’s drifted in that direction.
We like all kinds of different music. Just because Coliseum started as a hardcore punk band doesn’t mean we don’t listen to plenty of other music. On this record in particular, we’re really into a lot of ‘80s post-punk and new wave stuff that was sort of speaking to us at the time. We view the punk world as a really broad world with lots of different sounds, and that’s something that excites us. We like to try different stuff all the time.
Weld: You guys also change record labels pretty frequently; the group signed to Deathwish to release Anxiety’s Kiss. Is that a reflection of the band’s creative movement?
Wilson: That’s not particularly the reason behind it. It just kind of happens that the records are on different labels, just because that’s what was available to us at the time. Like, these were the people interested in putting out the record. And just to try different stuff, to see if we could reach someone else with a particular record.
Deathwish, the label we’re on now — Coliseum has released a single with them before and they’ve been friends of ours for a long time. We play with a lot of bands on that label, so it just made sense to do this one on Deathwish this time.
Weld: Deathwish is typically a metal label, but Ryan Patterson has spoken out frequently against perceptions of Coliseum as a metal band. What’s your take on how Coliseum should be classified?
Wilson: I think he’s quick to speak against that labeling just because we come from the DIY punk world, and that’s what we identify with. The band has been on Relapse, which is a very big metal label. And sure, we play with metal bands, and we’re a loud band with distorted guitars. But I don’t think our music in particular has a lot to do with the typical genre sounds of metal. I think it’s easy to get compartmentalized nowadays, just because people want to know what they like and call it something.
This band has just always existed in the realm of punk music, no matter what it sounds like. That’s just what we identify with. That’s the reason why it’s a point altogether. I don’t really think we’re a metal band. It’s just not a major influence for Coliseum.
Weld: Coliseum has a pretty constant work ethic and an unusually high output. It’s been a few months since Anxiety’s Kiss came out. Is the band working on new music?
Wilson: Not currently, which is kind of strange for us. The band has definitely done a lot of records, a lot of EPs, a lot of singles. There’s no particular goal in mind other than it’s something that we love to do.
Coliseum has always had the intention of being a band that has a legacy, a catalog of work. There’s a lot of material there to contribute to that, for sure.
Coliseum perform at Saturn on Tuesday, Aug. 11. Wray will open. Doors open at 7 p.m.; the show begins at 8 p.m. Tickets are $10. For more information, visit saturnbirmingham.com.