August 5, 2013 Interview – Richard Patrick of Filter tells all
Risk and reward are two words which go together well. Sometimes we are afraid to take a chance and challenge ourselves to do what we dream. Filter is the result of a high risk taken by Richard Patrick leaving Nine Inch Nails and stepping into the unknown. The rewards have been immense for Filter with 2 platinum records, massive hits like “Hey Man Nice Shot” and “Take A Picture”, and a career paved with great music. Recently we sat down with Richard Patrick for a personal look at his life in music, his decision to leave Nine Inch Nails, and the struggles he has triumphed to fulfill his artistic vision of Filter.
Crypticrock.com- You have been leading the way for Filter now for 20 years. You spent a 3 years span between 1989 and 1993 as the live guitarist for Nine Inch Nails. You obviously had a personal artistic vision which we now know as Filter. Tell me when you made that decision to go out and start your own project how difficult of a decision was that for you?
Richard Patrick- It was a no brainer. Trent had said to me that he was doing this record called Pretty Hate Machine and was going on tour, to come out as a live guitar player. I said well I’d really love to be on the record and he said ok so he let me do this little guitar segment. I really wanted to be part of Nine Inch Nails other than just the guitar player. After a year or so that 6 week tour turned into 3 years. At one point he looked at me and said if you want what I have go for it, you know what to do, you have to write a record, you have to put your heart and soul into it and that is the way you’re going to do it. He said motivate yourself and get out there and write something. So I wrote 3 or 4 songs but 1 song is amazing. I called Trent and told him dude this song is absolutely amazing so either you’re going to use it or I’m going to use it and I believe in myself. It was a very proud moment. He heard it and they wanted to own a part of it and give me credit. I didn’t want credit, I wanted ownership, and that’s why I wrote it. I didn’t want to be the hired gun. I wanted to be the guy who participated and be part of the band. Eventually I played it for 3 or 4 record companies and within a couple of weeks of going out there to work on The Downward Spiral, I already had a bunch of record deals on the table. I felt like it was an opportunity of a lifetime and I was never going to get another chance.
Hey Man Nice Shot is still a classic and huge song for us. The power of that song as well as the others I’d write later put me in the lifestyle and the band I’ve always wanted to be in. There is nothing like being the lead singer of a rock band, just relying on your friends, and choosing the people you hang out with, and not being forced together. Jonny Radtke is in here, he’s the new guitar player. That wouldn’t have been possible if I was locked up in some other arrangement, it would have been a set thing. Being the lead singer of Filter gives me the most freedom on the planet, there is nothing like being your own boss. Filter is a dream come true and I’m still touring around the world having fun and putting out records. I’ve got a lot of amazing stuff to say as an artist and I continue to do it every day. I’m blessed and quitting Nine Inch Nails was the best thing I ever did.
Crypticrock.com- It most definitely was a good decision because it has spawned Filter and a series of albums. It sounds like you took the right risk there.
Richard Patrick- When I was on my way to go work on The Downward Spiral I was just looking out at the Grand Canyon and I was thinking I only live once. I only live once in this fucking thing. Trent loves me and I love him and he wants me to succeed at this thing. There was this massive question mark and I was sitting at the Grand Canyon tripping on mushrooms. I was thinking to myself I think I am going to take a plunge and quit something that is massive, has so much respect, so much momentum and energy behind it. I’m either going to be the Beatle that left or I’m going to be the guy who stood on his own feet, believed in himself and didn’t have to rely on anyone but his own imagination and creativity. That was the reason why I would change channels and turn my perception slightly with drugs and alcohol in the beginning. I’d say fuck it I’m going to do it. After sitting there looking at the Grand Canyon for 8 hours, I’d think god I have to do this. If I don’t I will never forgive myself and I’ll never get it done. I knew Nine Inch Nails schedule was so intense. I needed months to do Short Bus. I love the barbaric approach to recording we took on Short Bus. We used a drum machine to make a grunge/ industrial record. I loved dropped D tuning, I loved Helmet, Soundgarden and Deftones. I was in that world but I had no drummer.
Crypticrock.com- You speak of Filter’s debut album Short Bus and the approach you took on it with no drummer. Tell me more about the decision to use a drum machine.
Richard Patrick- Trent and I met at PI Keyboards and Audio in Cleveland. It was like fuck it, you don’t need bands, to use machines, and use the technology. Even today when I played Trent my new stuff a month ago Trent heard the drumming and said it’s amazing. He said so you kept it machine and he said why? I said because why would I want to give into the notion that somehow your suppose to do rock music through having a real drummer. Who needs a real drummer? You’re going to tell me I can’t be creative? Now we’ve used real drummers all over the place and they’ve added a lot, but it’s kind of like don’t tell me what the standard is. That’s why we left it programmed. That’s what we decided to do with our bands. We used machines that had that perfection and mechanical quality, but we added real cymbals to fuck with the audience a little bit. It was fun to break those rules and that’s why we kept it.
Crypticrock.com- Obviously you should go with your artistic vision and who says you have to follow the rules of rock music. What exactly are the rules of music anyway?
Richard Patrick- Yea. That’s kind of what I think. I have a great drummer now in Jeff Fabb. Iabb know we’re going to use him on the next record and we’re going to work together, of course we’re going to do all that. During The Sun Comes out Tonight there wasn’t any drummer. It was just the programming that myself, Chris Marlette, Bob Marlette and Jonny Radtke sat and chipped away at it. That’s when I knew this record was going to be a similar thing to Short Bus because it was in this case 3 dudes that write and we all engineered and made it happen. That was what the Short Bus way was. It wasn’t a band. It was me writing the guitar parts with Brian Liesegang doing sound design and production, a drum machine, and I played bass guitar.
Cryticrock.com- The best formula is the formula which works for you as a musician. Now fast forward a bit coming off the major success of Title Of The Record (1999) you released The Amalgamut in 2002. An excellent follow up record loaded with great tracks. Unfortunately the album didn’t reach the success of Title Of The Record for whatever reason. Looking back on that record 11 years later what do you think prevented The Amalgamut from getting the success it deserved?
Richard Patrick- It’s easy, I stopped touring the record a month after it came out, went into rehab and disappeared. I went through a music phase where I was writing as I experienced my life within drugs and alcohol. When I had gotten to the point when I couldn’t go on stage for that tour I hit the brakes and went into rehab. When you do that the record label says ok, he’s not working, we’re not working, there’s 10 other bands behind him that would love to have this attention from us. It’s cruel but I couldn’t keep up the pace of touring like that. The Amalgamut suffered but it’s still a great record. I cringe when I hear some of it because a lot of the lyrics I feel like ugh what was I thinking. There’s a lot of stuff I would have changed if I had been a little bit more clear headed. That is why I stopped doing drugs but it was like who is using who? What’s using what? Am I using drugs to have a good time and escape? Title Of Record was the most amazing cry for help from an alcoholic. ” You just gotta sit yourself down, To contemplate. You get yourself a nice cold beer, And drink yourself away. You’re celebrating nothing, And you feel a-okay. You’re celebrating nothing, And you feel, A-O-Kay.”
Crypticrock.com- You speak of the cry for help. In retrospect as a listener of the record you can absolutely hear that cry for help.
Richard Patrick- Singing “hey dad what do you think about your son now” was a place holder. I went in, screamed it, and everyone liked it. There was no correlation to anything other than the fact that I was talking about being an alcoholic, being naked, and not understanding why people were offended because I was taking my close off on a plane. In a world where I’m this skinny 27 year old saying let’s party, the hard reality of my perception of “let’s party” was making a mockery of authority and the flight staff in my mind, the reality was being some nut up in first class getting ready to be arrested on an airplane. I don’t think the whole song is a cry for help but if you wake up in the back of a paddy wagon when you fell asleep on an airplane and you look around and you say “Hey dad what do you think about your son”. Everything has a new meaning, you think what am I doing? What kind of amazing drunken buffoonery, how far did I take it to, and why was it so amazing to me to do that? That’s the power of drugs.
Crypticrock.com- That is a very interesting story. It’s always interesting to hear the origin of the lyrics of songs. Now in your 6 year hiatus from Filter you collaborated with the DeLeo Brothers from Stone Temple Pilots with the band Army Of Anyone between 2005 and 2007. The album was an excellent mix of your style and their style. With that said in the future do you think you will explore making another Army Of Anyone record together?
Richard Patrick- Honestly that record took so long to make. To put it out and go touring for it took 3 or 4 years. I think they’re really busy with Chester Bennington. Now that they have Chester they can stay in a similar world of the heritage of Scott Weiland but they can also get that kind of long scream stuff that they wanted from me. Stone Temple Pilots is a huge name and Chester is in there singing the stuff. He has that kind of Richard Patrick long scream that kind of even blends Army Of Anyone together. I think it’s awesome and I think they should have a good time. I hope to hear a new Stone Temple Pilots record soon, the single’s great.
Crypticrock.com- It’s is very good and I am excited as well to hear a new album from Stone Temple Pilots. You re-launched Filter in 2006 with the Anthems for the Damned. Tell me about the decision to do another Filter record. I understand you do all the writing and most of the production but was it difficult to do so without your former band mates in Frank Cavanagh and Geno Lenardo?
Richard Patrick- When it comes to the hard work in the studio and stuff like that I was the bass player. I wrote all those bass lines. I did Hey Man Nice Shot, I did all that. The only bass line I didn’t write was the bass line for Cancer. I treated them with as much respect as I possibly could. I think that is one of the problems with being in the Trent Renzor, Josh Homee, Tom Petty, Prince, Bruce Springsteen songwriter group. It’s kind of one of those things where you have to evaluate what was going on. Frank and those guys were mad at me that I went into rehab and I got sober and when I came out I wasn’t sure if I wanted to do this anymore. Instead of embracing that I just cut everything off. I went all these guys are really fun but there were so many character defects going on because of the situations I found myself in so I needed to just cut myself off. So I essentially cut all my ties with everyone. It was one of those things if I am going to be the boss and I’m going to have to show up and get all this going I really want to surround myself with the best people. The only person who has really shown up where you’d want to dedicate the attention and everything to is Jonny Radtke and that’s in 10 years of doing this. He comes in and offers this incredible bevy of guitar talent, then there is his song writing ability because he’s a hit maker in his own right, and then there is the style. To have it all in one person to a level where it’s at now, where he says let’s try this or let’s try that, that’s the team work I’ve always wanted. If I’m going to make the ultimate marriage it would have to be worth it.
Crypticrock.com- Absolutely, and it seems you’ve found that now with the new chemistry. It’s kind of like a John Lennon and Paul McCartney song writing thing.
Richard Patrick- Yea. It’s faster and fun, we kick ideas around. There is this whole idea of I respect what you listen to own your own and he respects what I listen to own on my own. There is a lot of people that you can have everything with but they like bands that you hate. You have to have the same kind of musical philosophy. Jonny has all that. I don’t have to beg someone to try and listen to the Blade Runner soundtrack and say you see why this is kind of cool, the textures created and everything? I don’t need to beg someone to get into that. That is kind of where it was with a lot of the people I was working with. It was like we’re not even similar people how can we have a musical marriage? Because the music is the love, it’s the passion, it’s the whole thing. You can’t disagree on everything. Love/Hate relationships never last.
Crypticrock.com- Obviously you want to be on the same wave length and you have done that with the new Filter record The Sun Comes Out Tonight that was released June 4th. The album is excellent and needs to be heard. In our review of the record on crypticrock.com we stated it’s possibly the best Filter album in a decade. Tell me what was the mindset going into this new record?
Richard Patrick- I think you’re right. I didn’t have a plan laid out of how I’d like it sound. My job in all honestly was how to make it heavy. I wanted to make it as heavy as possible. When I teamed up with Wind-up that was the first thing we decided. We decided we had to have at least 3 songs that were going to fucking punch you in the face and make you think of old Filter. Johnny and Bob are really into melodies and stuff like that. For me I was just like I want to scream like a muthafucker. For me my favorite metal band is still Pantera. That is where I consider the scream. That’s what makes it so much more amazing.
Crypticrock.com- My last question for you is regarding films. Crypticrock.com is a rock/metal and horror news site so we like to focus on all genres. Are you a fan of horror films and if so what are some of your favorite horror films?
Richard Patrick- I think my favorite horror movie is The Shining. I like more realistic horror. I don’t like monsters. I think The Shining is pretty much it. I remember seeing that as a kid. That lady laughing at Jack Nicholson, some weird shit.
Be sure to catch Filter on tour this fall with Stone Temple Pilots.
Dates are as follow:
Sept. 4 – Bethlehem, Pa., Sands Bethlehem Event Center
Sept. 6 – Sayreville, N.J., Starland Ballroom
Sept. 7 – Atlantic City, N.J., House Of Blues
Sept. 9 – Boston, Mass., House Of Blues Boston
Sept. 10 – Huntington, N.Y., The Paramount
Sept. 13 – Oklahoma City, Okla., DT Airpark (appearing with Mötley Crüe)
Sept. 14 – Newkirk, Okla., First Council Casino
Sept. 17 – Sunrise, Fla., BB&T Center
Sept. 20 – Columbia, S.C., Township Auditorium
Sept. 21 – Fort Myers, Fla., JetBlue Park (96-KRock Presents Rockwave Festival)
Sept. 24 – Midland, Texas, La Hacienda Event Center
Sept. 26 – Tempe, Ariz., The Marquee