March 9, 2016 Interview – Richard Patrick of Filter
Formed in Cleveland, Ohio, the band known as Filter has become one of America’s most enduring musical projects over the past two decades. The brainchild of one-time Nine Inch Nails touring Guitarist Richard Patrick, Filter was founded on the concept of truthful expression within the band’s sound, regardless of what the mainstream dictated. Attaining success along the way, their 1995 debut album, Short Bus, was anchored by massive heavy Industrial Rock tracks such as “Hey Man, Nice Shot.” Still expanding the horizons of Filter’s sound, Patrick and company reached new heights with 1998’s mega album Title of Record, and since then, have marched to their own beat. Last releasing the positively received Rock album The Sun Comes Out Tonight in 2013, Patrick takes Filter in a different direction in 2016 with the surprising forthcoming album entitled Crazy Eyes. Recently we sat down with the singer/songwriter to talk Crazy Eyes, the insanity of American politics, writing music, and much more.
CrypticRock.com – It has been a busy last couple of years for yourself and Filter. Now you return in 2016 with the band’s seventh overall studio album, Crazy Eyes. The album is set for release April 8th, what can fans expect from this new collection of songs?
Richard Patrick – “Take Me to Heaven” is the most radio friendly song on the record. The rest of the record is pretty hard, heavy, but it is also really strange. It’s extremely different, but it has the quirkiness of the old Short Bus era. It’s just the instrumentation has changed quite a bit.
CrypticRock.com – That is interesting to hear. The 2013 album The Sun Came Out Tonight was received really well by people. As you stated, this record is a little more gritty, a little heavier. Is that something you were going for this time around?
Richard Patrick – I just wanted to make something that was completely true to where I’m coming from. When you are working with producers and people that are trying to get you on the radio 24 hours a day, you end up walking away with a record that every song is like, “Hey, that could be on the radio.” You know what I mean? There is always this hidden agenda. With this record, it was completely just what I wanted to do. They let me write it and produce it with whoever I wanted, and I chose to work with Oumi Kapila, the great songwriter/co-producer. I just wanted to make a record from my ears, and no one else. That’s what I did in the beginning. Everybody is pretty happy about it.
CrypticRock.com – Looking at your career with Filter, you have really stayed to your artistic integrity pretty well. Filter has always done what they have done, despite what is going on in popular mainstream music. Is that something that you pride yourself on as an artist?
Richard Patrick – Yeah, I mean the record is called Crazy Eyes because if you Google up Adam Lanza, Dylan Klebold, Eric Harris, and these insane people that show up to schools and kill people, there’s this incredible, bizarre look in their eyes. The reason why I am doing this is because obviously today’s music is so sugary sweet. It is just that I want to do the exact opposite without being like, “Ok, I’m in a Heavy Metal band and we are going to play really heavy guitars.” I wanted to fall back on my Industrial/Punk Rock kind of attitude.
CrypticRock.com – You do not really pull punches with your lyrics. You basically say what you are feeling about some topics many are essentially afraid to talk about nowadays. It seems like we are living in such a politically correct environment now.
Richard Patrick – Politically correct, maybe, but status quo, there is a certain amount of hatred. A guy like Donald Trump says, “We are going to build a wall,” and the reality is that’s the normal, rich guy approach to everything. Saying, “Keep em out, this is mine. We are going to have this, we are going to have everything,” that’s the status quo. The Punk Rock thing to do or the rebellious thing to do is to look for the people that really need help and help them. That’s not politically correct. Trump is just kind of going off hate and anger. Like the people of Emanuel, they forgave him immediately, saying we pray for you. That’s Punk Rock, that’s like Gandhi type. Saying, “You can kill us, but we are always going to be standing here.”
CrypticRock.com – Understood and a very valid point. When referring to the term politically correct, it just seems like we have so many issues in society and a lot of people are just afraid to talk about them. Everyone is afraid of offending one another. How can you make progress unless everyone speaks to one another and evaluates each other’s feelings?
Richard Patrick – Yes, I think that the bands that I’ve always loved, like the Clash or Skinny Puppy or John Lennon, they’ve always just said it how it is. They have never been afraid to say. Even Bono with U2, “Sunday Bloody Sunday” was taken off of radio because people thought it was a rebel song for the IRA. They were just singing about what was up and what was happening.
CrypticRock.com – Right, and Filter has done that in the past with their music, and you continue to do that. With Crazy Eyes, is it safe to say there are quite a few topical lyrics involved with the music?
Richard Patrick – Everyday, there was something new and I would just react on it. For example, on a positive note, “Pride Flag ” came when they federalized marriage equality. It was a joyful, happy thing. That song is about that. When you write lyrics, if you are in a great spot, you write everything in about a half an hour to an hour. That was a good thing. Marriage equality is a real thing and religion shouldn’t be all up in our business. “Pride Flag” is just about happiness and talking about people who want to get married, getting married.
CrypticRock.com – That is a positive thing. As you said, the government should have no say in who gets married. It is kind of ridiculous to think that they would have a say, that should not have any validity to anything. Religion and government should theoretically be separate.
Richard Patrick – It’s basically the religious rites have way too much power, for a bunch of people, for churches who don’t even pay taxes, why should they even have a say? They are all tax exempt, but for some reason, they are all up in our politics. Christian values meaning owning slaves? That was touted around for a long time, up until 150 years ago, you thought it was totally acceptable? Those Christian values?
CrypticRock.com – Right, there certainly is a lot of hypocrisy involved on all sides of the equation, no doubt. Back to the music, Filter has been going for two plus decades. That is a really impressive run. What would you say has been the key to this longevity?
Richard Patrick – Being real, just always being true to yourself. It’s not designed like a band, you know what I mean? It’s a recording project that flashes itself out live with different people every time, I think that was a big part of it. The first record was me and Brian Liesegang at a studio in Cleveland in a house that we rented and put a bunch of recording equipment in it. Basically, I played on the guitar and he played some guitar, did some crazy overdubs. It was basically just us and the 8-track, then the computer. Eventually, it fleshed out into the Geno Lenardo, Frank Cavanaugh thing, and that was again pretty heavily handed in my favor because I had a heavy hand in it. I worked with those guys, then it changed up on Anthems for the Damned (2008). I just went completely AWOL and changed it all completely. To me, with Filter, obviously there is always a million different people involved, and I just keep it going working with new people and working with new talent. I am constantly trying to find new people that really want to express themselves and work with me.
Unfortunately for some of the old bandmates, I just keep changing my mind. I think that’s kind of the key, I am the main guy and I like to have control over everything. I don’t like to divvy up. It’s not like U2 or like Led Zeppelin, you can’t have Led Zeppelin without Jimmy Page, Robert Plant. They are singular. With Filter, it’s a recording project first, I come into it with my songs, my attitude, and then I steer everything into a certain direction. It’s my baby, it’s not unlike what Trent Reznor does with Nine Inch Nails. It’s not unlike what Josh Homme does with Queens of the Stone Age. It’s not unlike Tom Petty. Tom Petty’s drummer quit, he thought it was sad and all of a sudden he got Steve Ferrone, and Steve Ferrone is amazing. He continues. Bruce Springsteen continues, he can have different guitar players, he can have different bandmates, but it’s always Bruce Springsteen. That’s what Filter is, I just didn’t call it The Richard Patrick.
CrypticRock.com – Understandable. This is your creation, it is your artistic vision. That makes perfect sense.
Richard Patrick – I’m the singer, that’s the singularity there. Crazy Eyes has got a lot of weird moments, where it’s like, “Huh, I didn’t expect that to happen.” That’s why this record is getting so much more acclaim than Sun Comes Out Tonight, because it was kind of a Rock record where as this is way more experimental.
CrypticRock.com – Well it will be exciting to hear Crazy Eyes once it is release. You are actually going to be going out on the road with Orgy, Vampires Everywhere, and Death Valley High. How excited are you for this run coming up?
Richard Patrick – You know, I like Jay Gordon, he’s crazy, and I’ve always respected him. Us Industrial bands have to kind of stick together, so this definitely is an Industrial tour. I also love the title of the tour, Make America Hate Again (laughs). Just a fuck you to Donald Trump, it’s just fun.
CrypticRock.com – It is a good lineup. People are going to enjoy this and you are playing some different venues, some which you have not played in the past. Some which are little bit more intimate.
Richard Patrick – I like that. I like intimate and small. Listen, if you want to go to an arena, go to see fucking Justin Bieber. If you want all that sugary sweet bullshit, if you want us to wear costumes and masks and shit, that’s not the band. We are about delivering raw emotion. When people see it right up close or right in front of us, that’s the way we prefer it.
CrypticRock.com – Absolutely, it is more personal that way. My last question is pertaining to film. Last time we spoke, you had given me a few Horror films that you dug. Have you seen any new Horror films in the past few years, if so, what are some of them that you have enjoyed?
Richard Patrick – What was that movie, Ex-Machina (2015)? To me, that was Horror; the machines take over, but in a very subtle, seductive, weird way. Plus the creator of the machines was so flawed that his flaws carried over into his work and the isolation that he created for himself was pretty horrific.
CrypticRock.com – That is certainly a great new film. You had said you enjoy more realistic Horror. What would you put in that category?
Richard Patrick – I think The Blair Witch Project (1999). That set a whole new standard in Horror because it wasn’t really cool camera shots, like glistening special effects. It was just so much more. Even Paranormal Activity (2007), just like weird. It’s a bunch of Surveillance videos of the house and things happen, I kinda like those a little bit more because it’s just too real. I also like Dramas like that, I like Seven (1995). It was really cool. Again, those drift into things that are a little bit more applicable now. You know, those Slasher films, Friday the 13th (1980) and stuff, that’s just too far fetched. One crazy dude with a mask running around, you know what I mean? I like the stuff that’s a little bit more tangible.