Richard Patrick On Influencing Nine Inch Nails’ Broken: ‘We’ve Got To Drop Our Balls & Flex Our Muscles’

I recently conducted an interview with Filter frontman Richard Patrick for Alternative Nation at the listening party in New York for Filter’s 7th studio album, Crazy Eyes, set for release on April 8, 2016. We will be publishing the complete interview later this week.

In Billboard’s review of Crazy Eyes, they stated the following: “Crazy Eyes is hardly bereft of guitars but there are a substantial amount of electronics and effects in use. The result features heavy industrial crunch and solemn, ambient songs that reach back to Patrick’s time in Nine Inch Nails and the first Filter album, 1995’s Short Bus.” I asked Patrick about this quote, and he looked back at his early days in Nine Inch Nails.

Patrick: “Trent in 1988 was in a band called “The Exotic Birds” and I was in a band called “The AKT”. We were both really listening to bands like Ministry, With Sympathy, Skinny Puppy and we realized that you could be as mean as shit and you can use keyboards. Most stuff sounded like Kraftwerk or Depeche Mode. Depeche Mode was awesome, but they were so specifically Depeche Mode. So, we were worried that we had to be like Information Society or something. When I was in Nine Inch Nails, I jumped on at the end when he recorded Pretty Hate Machine and then he released Broken. There’s a huge sonic change from those two records and he thanked his live band for being an influence. That credit on that EP was the fact that I was always saying, ‘We’ve got to fucking make it heavy and mean, man. We’ve got to fucking drop our balls down a little bit and fucking flex our muscles, be mean and fucking make heavy music.’

I’m not claiming anything, but when you’re hearing that all the time, it was just coming from that point of view of, ‘Let’s say mean shit, fucking say it, scream and be angry,’ because we were fucking angry. When we started the NIN Tour, we felt we’d never make it. I mean Bon Jovi and all that shit was always going to be there. We hoped it was going to go someplace, but we were downtrodden, pissed off musicians that had been picked on because we didn’t have Marshall amplifiers or something. Eventually we did get some Marshall amplifiers, but we were picked on because we were using synthesizers, samplers, fake drums. We had Simmons pads, we didn’t have real drums. We were all about breaking all those rules.

I miss drunk Ritchie from Short Bus screaming at people, ‘Do it this way, motherfucker!’ I miss that guy. It took him to make this record, except that he wasn’t so angry, he just got his way. I worked with Amy Cappello on a bunch of songs. I produced it and co-produced it with a lot of different people and a lot of really great musicians. It was extremely important that I go, “Look, I’m sorry, this is just not going the way I want it to go, so let’s just stop this and start over on something else, let’s create something new. It takes the artist as well as the producer to really have all the final say.

I had to place myself in that position because no matter what was going on in Filter on those first 3 records, I was always getting my way. I was always the guy saying yes or no. To my detriment, in Amalgamut, I think some of the lyrics weren’t good enough and I was at the tail end of my drug problem. I’m not a perfect song writer, but I am song writing problems with dynamics, instrument change and arrangements. When I sang “Head of Fire,” I just kept on going like, “Head of Fire” in the 2nd verse. It just turned into this weird 10-bar extras bar. Normal verses are supposed to be like 8-bars and I just kept going. It went on until like 12- bars and I just kept repeating. I love that. I love not just being traditional.

I love breaking all the rules. In the middle of “Mother Eve,” it breaks down to a cello when he realizes what he’s doing, this person I was trying to understand, I just broke it down and had him sing like he was a little scared kid. I sang like I was this scared kid because I think he realized he was doing some pretty horrible shit. Then he rebuilt his energy and said, ‘I’ve got my reasons.’ Then I’d break down to a cello part. That’s more fun than just, ‘OK, the intro’s done, let’s do the 1st verse and then we’ll do the chorus.’ It just got really redundant on other records. So, for this record, it was just like, ‘Let’s just do it this way, fuck it. I know it’s not right. I know it’s not the traditional way. Let’s just do something weird’ and all of that is why people like it. It’s reflective of that kid who didn’t necessarily know what he was doing, but created something original anyway.”

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  • Felonious Punk

    I’m looking forward to this new album. Billboard aren’t the first to say that it harkens back to Short Bus and his days in NIN.

    Fun fact: the video for NIN’s ‘Gave Up’ features Ritchie, Brian Leisegang (who was Ritchie’s partner in Filter during the Short Bus days) and a pre-‘Marilyn Manson’ Brian Warner, and was filmed at Le Pig, the studio Trent Built inside the house where Charles Manson’s family committed the Tate murders

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MAzVWRzTv-A

    • Pink Taco

      my favorite NIN time period – LePig and Sharon Tate’s house

    • Pink Taco

      What did you think of “The Sun Comes Out Tonight”

      • Felonious Punk

        It was okay. It starts to sound a little samey towards the end, but for the most point it was enjoyable, I thought.

        Ritchie was talking about the new album in an interview I read a few weeks back (here on the site, I believe) where he said he felt a sort of responsibility to Wind Up Records with TSCOT, and that’s why it sounds a bit more polished, but that the new album will be weird and experimental because he was free to be as creative as he wished this time.

        • Pink Taco

          I am always driven towards weird and experimental music so I am now more interested than I was before. I saw Filter live a while ago and it was allllright

  • ITURBIDE

    I think Richard Patrick will be haunted forever by the talent and success of Trent Reznor. The guy can’t have a headline without something related to NIN. Kinda the relation of Dave Mustaine and Metallica, only sadder.

    ‘hey man nice shot’ its an incredible song, and everybody knows the lyrics of ‘take a picture’, but beyond that, Patrick will always be eclipsed by the enormous talent of Reznor.

    Reznor, Grohl and Pearl Jam are the biggest talents alive of my generation. the order its not casual.