Hardcore pugilists Coliseum have always had a knack for writing punk ragers with lyrics that go a little deeper, so it’s no surprise that “Doing Time,” a single off their recent Sister Faith LP, is about a relationship gone wrong. And hanks to some crunchy chords, it sounds brutal. “It’s about hoping for the best for someone but realizing it’s time to walk away,” vocalist-guitarist Ryan Patterson says, citing Chavez’s “Nailed to the Blank Spot” as the song’s musical inspiration. “The chorus, ’Ain’t a prison, but we’re doing time,’ refers to that feeling of being trapped and waiting for that time to end.”
But heavier than both the subject matter and the song itself is the song’s video, which was directed by Erik Denno, the sometime vocalist-guitarist for early ’90s D.C. post-hardcore foursome Kerosene 454 and director of a movie filmed by cats. “I have been a fan of Erik since Kerosene 454,” Patterson says. “I love their records and saw them play quite a few times. While trying to put together the Sister Faith video project Erik, was one of the first people I asked to be involved. I also loved the Cat Diaries short film.”
A far cry from that feel-good creature feature, “Doing Time” plays out like a mystery noir, offset by perpetually moving color-saturated frames that give glimpses of what appears to be a dastardly plot. There are close-ups of chain-link fences, flashlights on pavement and maps. There are shots of night driving, gloved hands and nearly barren desert shots, which show off a bloody hand. The video’s main character, seen only from a distance an in what we assume is a rearview mirror, is clearly hiding something, but it’s never clear exactly what that is. It’s a puzzle, literally, that Denno pieces together, and the inspiration came from a classic source.
“Originally, the first idea for ’Doing Time’ came from the opening credits that Saul Bass did for The Man With the Golden Arm,” says Denno, who met Coliseum through their producer, J. Robbins. “I love the idea that film is like moving graphic design. So I chose to use different blocks of video to tell different portions of the story. I also wanted there to be so much going on that with each view you’d see something new, making a deeper story each time in the way that the song added layers, until it all became so much that it was an overload of ideas, thoughts and visions.”
Sister Faith is out now via Temporary Residence. Coliseum will begin touring near the end of the month, including dates with Girls Against Boys and Pelican in the fall.