INTERVIEW: Ryan Patterson talks about Fotocrime, his writing process & punk in Louisville!

The first time I heard Fotocrime, the latest project from former Coliseum singer/guitarist Ryan Patterson, I was a bit surprised at the change in aesthetic from project to project. Gone were the Motorhead-esque mile-a-minute guitar riffs and gravely screams, which have been replaced with a reserved take on goth-punk backed by synthetic drums and melodic vocals. But it didn’t take long to identify Patterson’s fingerprints all over each track on Principle of Pain, the band’s debut record. I know, I shouldn’t be overly surprised by this shift in tone considering the last few Coliseum albums, but I’d be lying if I said that Fotocrime wasn’t a pleasant surprise for me, as a fan of fast and heavy punk rock and the darker side of 80’s synth-pop.

Fotocrime’s next show is this Sunday, December 30th at Zanzabar where they will be playing alongside hardcore legends By the Grace of God and horror rock troupe Prayer Linego here for more details on the event. To get you hyped on the show, I reached out to Ryan for a quick interview to which he thankfully obliged. Read on as we discuss his writing process, a few inspirations, and the modern Louisville punk community.

Never Nervous: Talk about the genesis of Fotocrime. What was the motivation behind it, and how did the band come to fruition?

Ryan Patterson: I’d been exploring electronic music elements for many years, slowly bringing synthesizers into my music and writing demos with drum machines for nearly a decade. With Fotocrime I wanted to make that more of a focus of the sound, specifically step-sequencing with synths, which is something I really love to hear. I was interested in trying something stylistically new for me, working to find new ways to use my voice, and initially to write and record an album entirely on my own. From there I asked my bandmates Nick Thieneman and Shelley Anderson to join the band for live shows and future recordings.

NN: How would you describe what Fotocrime sounds like to someone that hasn’t heard you?

RP: Post-punk with electronic elements.

NN: How different is your songwriting approach with Fotocrime from the creative process you had with bands like Coliseum and Black God?

RP: It’s not much different from the Coliseum songs I would write and demo on my own, which were written with a drum machine. I generally begin songs with drum beats, basslines, or synth sequences, then layer everything else from there. Fotocrime is intended to be a very singular vision, rather than a traditional band where all of the members contribute ideas. Of course, any song takes on new shape when played by another person and I’m always excited to hear the parts played when played by my bandmates.

“I generally begin songs with drum beats, basslines, or synth sequences, then layer everything else from there.”

NN: Whether it be related to music or not, what inspires the music you make with Fotocrime?

RP: The novels of Raymond Chandler and Paul Bowles. The films of Carol Reed, Douglas Sirk, and many others. Coffee, Roy Orbison’s sunglasses, cold concrete, a drive to garner self-worth through creative expression.

NN: Does the name “Fotocrime” have a special meaning?

RP: It has a specific source that relates directly to my inspirations and intentions for the band. Like any good band name, it has come to represent us and our music and grow beyond its origin.

NN: Over the years, you’ve been in quite a few bands. What was your first? My earliest memory of you was watching you play in The National Acrobat in the late 90’s/early 00’s.

RP: My first band in high school was called Synapsis. I’ve been in a number of bands since then, but Fotocrime and Coliseum are the bands I’ve accomplished the most with and represent me best.

NN: Adding to that, what inspired you to be a part of Louisville punk? Was there a spark from your youth that sparked your passion as an artist?

RP: I was drawn in by the shows, the bands, the activity. When I was a kid discovering punk and hardcore I didn’t know that there were thriving local scenes; I thought it all existed elsewhere in bigger cities. Once I discovered the Louisville bands of the early/mid 1990s I wanted to be a part of that. I’ve always wanted to perform as long as I can remember, my brother and I used to video tape ourselves singing along to hair metal songs with guitars made from cardboard and planks of wood. I’ve always made art, it was highly encouraged when we were kids, and it all connected when I got a guitar, started writing songs, and formed a band. Even though I wasn’t really aware of it at the time, the immediacy and accessibility of punk made it all seem possible and I dove in entirely.

“The fact that there are new bands that I don’t know that will go on to shape the future of Louisville, and potentially the world, is very exciting.”

NN: As a mainstay in Louisville’s punk and indie rock community for the last few decades, how do you feel about the state of “the scene” right now?

RP: I’ve been mostly focused on my own music, work, art, and life for many years now, so I can’t say that I am integral or even acutely aware of Louisville’s scene at this moment. My focus has been traveling elsewhere via touring so I am more involved in my own sphere. Of course I still see shows and support bands I like and am friends with, but I’m not promoting shows multiple times a week as I did for many, many years. I’m sure the various scenes and sub-sects here and elsewhere are as thriving as ever. Punk goes on and DIY continues at every different age and in basements and record stores and print shops and recording studios and clubs and everywhere else. It’s a living, changing thing that goes on whether any one person is involved or not. The fact that there are new bands that I don’t know that will go on to shape the future of Louisville, and potentially the world, is very exciting.

NN: What current bands in Louisville have been knocking your skirt up lately?

RP: I like Jaye Jayle, Fool’s Ghost, Billie Aon, Garland Watts, Sheri Streeter, Second Story Man, Parlour, Killi Killi, Miracle Drug, State Champion, and many others I’m surely forgetting at this moment.

NN: Before you go, tell us about one of your favorite records from 2018.

I probably listened to Billie Aon’s “Mid-City Feeling” single as much or more than any other single song this year. It’s just a perfect power-pop song, emotional in a sincere way without being sappy at all, amazing hooks. Truly loved that song.