Friday, October 24, 2008

Coliseum on tour now

Coliseum is on tour now with some of our best friends who happen to be in some of the greatest bands out there. Come out to the shows and have fun with us.

Oct 24 - Athens, GA @ Caladonia w/ Torche, Clouds
Oct 25 - Memphis, TN @ The Hi-Tone w/ Torche, Clouds
Oct 26 - St Louis, MO @ The Bluebird w/ Torche, Clouds
Oct 27 - Lawrence, KS @ Jackpot w/ Torche, Clouds
Oct 28 - Denver, CO @ Larimer Lounger w/ Torche, Clouds
Oct 29 - Salt Lake City, UT @ Burt's Tiki Lounge w/ Torche, Clouds
Oct 30 - Boise, ID @ Neurolux w/ Torche, Clouds
Oct 31 - Seattle, WA @ El Corazon w/ Torche, Clouds
Nov 01 - Portland, OR @ Satyricon w/ Torche, Clouds
Nov 02 - Chico, CA @ Paradise Lost Video
Nov 03 - San Francisco, CA @ Slim's w/ Torche, Clouds
Nov 04 - Los Angeles, CA @ Regent Theatre / Safari Sam's w/ Clouds
Nov 07 - Tokyo, Japan @ Earthdom w/ Torche
Nov 08 - Osaka, Japan @ Fandango w/ Torche
Nov 09 - Nagoya, Japan @ Upset w/ Torche
Nov 10 - Yokohama, Japan @ F.A.D. w/ Torche
Nov 11 - Tokyo, Japan @ Shibuya O-Nest w/ Torche, Melt Banana
Nov 13 - Columbus, OH @ Ravari Room w/ Baroness, Minsk
Nov 14 - Detroit, MI @ Magic Stick w/ Baroness, Minsk
Nov 15 - Chicago, IL @ Reggie's w/ Baroness, Minsk
Nov 16 - Cleveland, OH @ Grog Shop w/ Baroness, Minsk
Nov 17 - Toronto, ON @ El Mocambo w/ Minsk, Burning Love
Nov 18 - Rochester, NY @ Club at Water Street w/ Baroness, Minsk
Nov 19 - Albany, NY @ Valentine's w/ Baroness, Minsk
Nov 20 - Hoboken, NJ @ Maxwell's w/ Baroness, Minsk
Nov 21 - Philadelphia, PA @ First Unitarian w/ Baroness, Minsk
Nov 22 - New York, NY @ Bowery Ballroom w/ Baroness, Minsk
Nov 23 - Cambridge, MA @ Middle East w/ Baroness, Minsk
Nov 24 - Brooklyn, NY @ The Charleston w/ Violent Bullshit
Nov 25 - Washington, DC @ Black Cat w/ Caverns

Saturday, October 18, 2008


AUX2: Lords / Coliseum split 7"
Released June 2004, Out Of Print

The Lords / Coliseum split 7" was the first true Auxiliary release. My great friend and then-roommate Craig Sopata agreed to be my partner in the label, and he became the financier of the first couple of releases. Craig had a "real world" job and I had a "punk rock" job at Initial Records at the time, so among us we figured we had all the bases covered. Evan was the third party who also contributed ideas and his screen printing ability.

The split 7" was planned to coincide with a "Maximum Louisville" tour in the summer of 2004. The tour would kick off with a free show in Louisville featuring Breather Resist, Kodan Armada, Coliseum and Lords, continue for two weeks with Breather, Kodan and Coliseum through the Midwest, then two additional weeks on the East Coast with Coliseum and Lords. 

We'd essentially scrapped the idea for the record as the date for the show and tour grew closer and neither band had recorded their songs. I can't recall what inspired us to put it back into action, but on the last weekend of May 2004 Coliseum and Lords both recorded their songs at Lords member Chris Owens' guerilla studio. I can't quite do justice to Owens' studio at the time, which he dubbed "Headbanging Kill Your Mama Music." It was a two room attic in the back of a building that housed band practice spaces and wholesale restaurant dinnerware. It was a site to behold... Filled with White Castle and Taco Bell trash, random studio gear, duct taped headphones, etc. It was ridiculous but fun. 

Coliseum recorded the songs "No Salvation" and "Born To Hang," which Chris sang, while Lords recorded "Talking Whip," "Impeach Pit," which I sang and gave the worst 90210 pun song title of all time, and a cover of Marilyn Manson's "The Beautiful People." We tacked on Coliseum's Fear cover, "I Don't Care About You," from our previous LP sessions and we were done. A CD-R was overnighted to United Record Pressing in Nashville, and a few weeks later the vinyl was in our hands.

When starting the label, we had a few basic ideas that we wanted to follow. This was in the beginning of the downfall of many indie labels that had been going strong since the nineties, as well as the impending end of Mordam, a distributor since the eighties that was the last massive bastion of true punk/indie ethics in its approach. There are still distributors large and small out there now, but Mordam was the home base for countless labels, providing strength in numbers and a safe haven for everyone involved. CD sales in general were taking a sharp decline for everyone and when Mordam announced that it was being sold to Lumberjack Distribution, it sent many indie labels into a tailspin. Initial Records was already on its way out, but there were many casualties in the years to follow. Even most of the small-to-mid size indie labels that survive to this day have had to cut back or operate in a very different way. 

But, I digress... I was seeing things while working at Initial that were dragging the label down. The costs of operating an office, paying employees, advertising, etc. The costs of giving bands adequate budgets to record at good studios was increasing, but sales were abysmal. Mordam was taking pre-orders and making suggestions of amounts of CDs or LPs to manufacture, then the actual sales would be much lower, leaving considerable amounts of dead stock and more expenses that couldn't recoup. We were trying to scale back, but it wasn't working. Of course, I had a different vision of music and of records that I wanted to put out, and my tastes in records I want to release are generally of the variety that might sell one thousand copies, instead of ten or twenty thousand. 

So, Auxiliary would keep things on the cheap, put out records in amounts we knew we could sell on tour and through mailorder. We'd record them ourselves when possible, we'd design them ourselves, we'd create the packaging by hand when possible. While we hadn't made this decision yet, this idea eventually extended into putting out only Louisville bands, people in town who understood the scenario and weren't expecting a massive publicity and promotional push. When our bands that needed more than that, we looked to other more established labels.

The Lords / Coliseum split 7" packaging idea was Evan's, we found a stack of extra paper in the back of the Initial / Monkey Drive office, figured we could print two-up on a sheet, cut them diagonally and have a totally unique cover for practically no money. We photocopied and folded inserts then glued them to the inside. We put the Initial Records logo on the covers so that Mordam would distribute it to stores. I believe we did all the printing the night before the tour kickoff show, Evan, Craig, and I hanging out all night at Monkey Drive screen printing shop printing and cutting covers. At the show we were still folding covers and gluing inserts as people filed in. 

I still like the design, it's simple but effective and somewhat interesting. The damn octopus tentacles coming out of the top of the car have been seen in about a million different places, once again coming out of the animal clip art book I often used at the time. I even reused the image myself a time or two for some reason. I'm often torn between the idea of trying to find completely unique source images for collages or just going with something that looks cool used in a unique way. 

It was a really fun release from start to finish. As time goes on and we all get busier and busier, great flashes of inspiration and late nights putting a project like this together become less frequent. There's still plenty of excitement when getting a professionally made release back from plant, but nothing compares to this type of project.

Oh yeah... The cover was subtitled "Maximum Louisville Split Series Volume I." Obviously we didn't continue with this idea, none of the other records panned out and the "Maximum Louisville" tag wore out after a bit as well.

Talking Whip
Impeach Pit
The Beautiful People
No Salvation
Born To Hang
I Don't Care About You

500 total
100 on clear vinyl with blue print
100 on blue vinyl with red print
300 on red vinyl  with red print

(I really loved how they Karp-ified this song.)

Friday, October 17, 2008


Trap Them are a band that I've had the pleasure of working with over a few different projects, helping to shape their visuals and, well, sell some shirts, too. Trap Them's previous shirts and records were designed by the great Justin Bartlett, whose work reminds me of the classic Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark, a book that has illustrations that gave me chills as a child. The band wanted to keep with occasional inverted crosses and sacrilegious imagery, so I worked on a logo that featured an inverted "t" in the center and came up with one of my favorite logos that I've done. Once I saw it printed I realized it was a bit too close to the original Tragedy logo, so I made a few adjustments when preparing it for their Seance Prime EP and shirts. 

The three letters "T-R-A" in sequence always end up looking like that damn (awesome) Tragedy logo! I don't know if it's just the way I write it or if that image is in the back of my mind pushing the pen in that direction or what... With Trap Them I think it ended up looking unique enough, but the logo I did a few years back for a band called Betrayed looks nearly identical out of the corner of your eye. When they put that logo on their black and white CD cover, it tricked me half the time I walked by it at a record store!

All of the Trap Them designs have been really fun and I hope that we continue to work together over the years. Most recently, I've been very satisfied with The Void and Hidden, their most recent shirt designs. For The Void, I created crop circle inspired geometric shapes in Freehand, shattered glass and dots with PITT pens, then text and textures by printing and scanning, finally assembling it all in Photoshop. With Hidden, Trap Them guitarist suggested a design inspired by a laserdisc cover of The Hidden, a film I've never seen but stars Kyle MacLachlan so it's got that going for it. We used that as our basis, added the ubiquitous skull and took it from there. The type is altered Alte Haas Grotesque, a font I'm currently obsessed with and pops up in quite a lot of my recent design work. 

Trap Them are a great band, they have improved vastly every time I've seen them. From the first time in a Louisville living room to most recently in Oklahoma City, they had become a completely different machine. I'm sure now with new drummer Mike Justian they will be even more intense. Their new album, Seizures In Barren Praise, is out now on Deathwish and is not to be missed.

Thursday, October 16, 2008


AUX1: Coliseum Demo CD
Released March 2004, Out Of Print

In coming weeks, I plan on writing about each of the Auxiliary releases so far, including whatever thoughts, information, and memories I can muster up... Sometimes even four or five years ago seems like a lifetime away.

What I've referred to as Auxiliary #1, after the fact, is the Coliseum 4-song Demo CD that was released in time for Coliseum's first show in March 2004. We sent it out to friends and labels, sold it on our first few tours, and it was eventually rendered obsolete when the recordings were re-released in June 2004 on the Coliseum self-titled LP/CD. There's no Auxiliary logo on the packaging and it wasn't considered an Auxiliary release at the time... But for some reason I decided that it was our first release when working on the following Coliseum / Lords split 7", giving it the catalog number of AUX2. Possibly to make the split 7" seem a bit more legit? Who knows.

While this was considered the official Coliseum demo, we'd actually already recorded these four songs on a Tascam cassette 8-track and I posted MP3's online for a handful of friends to hear. Since Black Cross was signed to Equal Vision at the time, I first offered it to them and they declined. (How strange would it have been if Coliseum had signed to Equal Vision?) Greg from Hot Cross / Level-Plane Records immediately offered to do an LP and I quickly took him up on his offer. I knew Greg a little bit from Black Cross and Hot Cross playing a handful of shows together and from designing a couple of records for him around this time.

We felt that the cassette recordings were too rough for an actual release, so we recorded the four songs again with Jason Loewenstein on his reel to reel 1/4" 8-track machine. The cassette demo was recorded live without vocals in my garage, using just a few mics, while the Loewenstein recordings were a tiny bit more high tech... More mics, different amps set up in the bedrooms upstairs, then we did vocals later in the bathroom of his house, and mixed on his computer in his bedroom.

(Side note: Jason was renting his room from the owner of the house, Doug, who was the manager at local indie record store mainstay ear X-tacy. My girlfriend later worked at the ear X-tacy when she first moved to Louisville, and she and I bought the house from Doug in 2007. So I, somewhat randomly, now live in this house... My office is in what was previously Loewenstein's bedroom. Pretty wild.)

The packaging was designed by me, my brother Evan screen printed the covers, the first run were red and the second were silver. I had the CD-Rs printed and duplicated by Furnace MFG, traycards printed by Jakprints, and a small photocopied insert done at Kinko's and inserted under the tray. The design isn't much to speak of really, I was using this unaltered snake image from a clip art book that I was drawing source material from a lot at the time. It's all a bit basic and somewhat uninspired in hindsight, but it was a humble starting point for a future Coliseum visual aesthetic.

Remixed versions of all of these songs appear on the first Coliseum LP, and eventually the original cassette 8-track recordings will end up as bonus tracks on a reissue of that LP.

Track listing:
1. Detached
2. This Mind Locked Inside This Body
3. In Time
4. Pretty Situation

Around 200-250 compact discs