From achieving commercial success in the mid-late 90’s with platinum selling hit songs “Hey Man, Nice Shot” and “Take A Picture”, Richard Patrick is not shy, yet humble and confident when speaking in preparation of Filter’s 7th studio album release, “Crazy Eyes” on April 8th 2016. Upon my invite to their NYC album listening party, hosted by Matt Pinfield, Patrick discussed the pre-Filter days as guitarist “Piggy” in Nine Inch Nails to his latest role as head record producer as well as a musician’s approach to an ever-changing lineup.
In explaining Patrick’s ‘break-the-rules’ style of writing, recording and producing, our interview would delve even deeper into his detest of modern-day political & mass-media corruption. What he believes Filter fans desire is the essential return to a non-radio friendly, angry-era that earned Filter its initial mainstream rock success. As Filter prepares for their “Make America Hate” Tour with Orgy, Vampires Everywhere & Death Valley High, I was on hand to learn the very latest in the world of Mr. Richard Patrick.
With your 7th full length record set for an April 8th release, what has your mindset been like during the course of the recording process and currently with its completion?
Patrick: “To speak up and stand by my guns the entire time…To stand by my methodology. That’s why I kind of made myself the producer. I worked with a lot of different, amazing people, but I was always like, “Dude, I’m sorry, you’re going to have to trust me, we’ve got to do it this way!”
With your recent statement regarding the musical direction of your upcoming album “Crazy Eyes,” you were quoted in stating, “The reason this record is so fucking heavy and strange is it’s exactly the opposite of what’s popular. It’s not pretty. It’s not cute. It’s real.”
With that being said, what influences you from a creative standpoint to go against the grain, musically speaking?
Patrick: “You just have to follow your own heart. I listen to so many different kinds of music and at the end of the day you want to make a record that you’re super proud of. I’m not a 22- year-old kid with a pretty smile. I don’t want to make it in the music industry like he does. I want to fuckin’ make something that’s artistic and reflective of my thinking or our generation’s thinking. You know, we live in a crazy time. Every other week, there’s a school shooting. There’s always some nutty thing and I’ve always wanted to kind of understand the crazy…When you turn on the news, they don’t say, “Hey, 2 Million kids went to school safely today…40,000 flights took place without incident.” They don’t say that.
For me, we’re all comfortable, we’re all happy, hopefully, but at the same time something will happen and you have to kind of understand that phenomenon. You have to understand what’s going on and I’ve always been fascinated by craziness and lunacy. ‘Crazy Eyes’ was just the most logic answer and I know it’s a good title because a lot of people didn’t really get it and I was like, “Well, let me explain.” That’s what I walk away with from this whole experience.”
Filter is set to kick off its forthcoming US tour, “Make America Hate Again,” Featuring Orgy, Vampires Everywhere and Death Valley High. With such a bold tour title to that of “Make America Hate Again,” where do you feel America currently stands in terms of political correctness, from an international standpoint and where are we headed as a country?
Patrick: “It’s kind of like a warning; it’s kind of like the old, extreme right-wing rhetoric that pulled Hitler to power. He found a group of people that he could blame everything on and he had tons of money when he wrote Mein Kampf. When he became chancellor, every person that joined the Nazi party had to get this book and it made him like a super, rich man. I just see Trump as being the next guy. I just see him as being someone that will say anything to get in office. One minute he hates Megyn Kelly, but before that he said she was an amazing moderator.
You kind of have to have a cynical thing sometimes. Like, Al Jourgenson made a record called, “A Mind is A Terrible Thing To Taste”, and as homage to him, it’s kind of like, Industrial has always been linked to heavy, aggressive, hateful music. Especially Trent and all the other guys and it just was like a tongue-in-cheek kind of mockery. It’s a cynical kind of “fuck you” to the “Make America Great Again” Tour, but with Donald Trump. So, with all of the political, cynicism and with all of the shit that he says, it’s just like, OK, we’re just going to go on tour and make fun of you the whole time.
I mean it’s not like it’s some anti-Trump rally, it’s just the name of a tour. The last tour name before that was The ‘Anti-Folk Revival Tour in Drop D’. There’s a sense of humor to this band and I always like to tell jokes in a joking fashion. It’s The “Make America Hate Again” Tour because we’re dangerously close. Like I was saying with Hitler, he’s blaming brown people. Doesn’t matter if you come from Mexico, doesn’t matter. They’re not the problem. The problem is that corporations have way too much power in Congress and the government and they’re rigging the system so that they don’t pay taxes, but we do. We pay for all these crazy wars they come up with. So, to me it’s like a call-to-action. Make America hate on crazy right-wing nut bars that want to fuckin’ believe that Jesus told them to invade Iraq. George Bush, ya’ know?
Since we have a new tour on April 13th called The “Make America Hate Again” Tour. It’s kind of a “Fuck You!” to Donald Trump and all his efforts to alienate brown people. Even though he says he wants to help the middle-class, he doesn’t give a flying fuck. He just wants to hire his fuckin’ buddies to build a wall to keep the Mexicans out. “I’ve got a great idea, we’ll make millions. We’ll build a wall to go across the Southern border. It’s so easy to see, so as a joke, we’re just like, “Oh yeah, Make America Hate Again, yeah that’s what we’re doing.”
As far as Orgy, Vampires Everywhere & Death Valley High being included on Filter’s upcoming US Spring Tour, are these artists that Filter wanted as part of the tour, a booking agency and record label decision, or a little of both?
Patrick: “We’re of similar ilk age, ya’ know? We’re birds of a feather and we stick together. I think that there hasn’t been a real, kind of heavy industrial tour in a long time and I haven’t chilled out, I’ve gotten meaner, I’ve gotten tougher. I wanted a band that plays heavy music without a bunch of guitars. Even though we love our guitars and we play them as loud as we can, there’s more than Industrial nod to this record. So, I wanted to tour with a band where we could put all our fans in one place and rock out with.”
In Billboard.com’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.”
What is your opinion on their summarized depiction of the record?
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 Kraftwerks 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.”
With so many recent losses in the world of hard rock, what are your thoughts on the recent passing of Stone Temple Pilot’s frontman, Scott Weiland?
Patrick: “I mean it was expected. I’ve been in recovery for a long time and people die every other week. It’s a sad place in America right now where kids are getting hooked on heroin. They go to rehab, then they come back out and then do heroin, overdose and die. That’s why I took to the internet. It was like, “Dude, what the fuck are you doing?” in talking about it in interviews. When I got sober, it was just one voicemail that really, really stuck in my head. It was this old girlfriend going, “You are a fucking loser. You’re fucking blowing it. You’re not getting away with it. You’re a fucking asshole. You’ve treated me like shit. I’ve got one fucking word. Rehab! Go to that fucking shit.”
It was so mean, but it was so like, “Wow, she’s not holding back.” It was so honest that a couple of days later, I was in rehab and that was it. When it comes to Scott, it was not a shock. It wasn’t a surprise and it’s sad because he really was amazing, but he could never just hold onto being OK with himself. He could never self-diagnose himself as a person that was just addicted. There was a week where he was sober and I had seen his last interview. He was completely lucid. He wasn’t stuttering & he wasn’t slow. I think what happened was he went back to his normal amount and killed himself because his heart wasn’t ready for it. Just from observation and from knowing addiction, it looked like he kind of fell apart, went out, did some cocaine and it was just enough to kill him.”
Upon the release of 2006’s Army of Anyone record, considering your prior collaborations with the DeLeo brothers of Stone Temple Pilots & drummer Ray Luzier, what was your experience like working with them and is their potential to create music with them in the future?
Patrick: “It was a true band. We’d go into rehearsal hall every other day and play the music. We did the demos kind of like the way I do records, which is just write with a computer and approximate the drums, but then we rehearsed it and were a band. So, it was very much like a band experience. I had never been in a band like that, but it was cool, I love it and maybe one day we’ll do another.”
What is your current opinion on the overall state of the music industry in 2016?
Patrick: “I think Pledge Music is unbelievably fucking cool. You know, you’ve got kids that are willing to put their money where their mouths are. They’re like, “OK, I’ve got the signed CD and it’s not coming out for months. I’ve got the poster.” Then they tune in and they see us making the record and they comment, “Wow, that sounds really cool!” and you start to get a rapport with all these people watching you make this record and you learn from them. They specifically told me, they want “Crazy Rich.” They don’t want fuckin’ together, happy married, adjusted Richard Patrick. They want fuckin’ nuttier! The nuttier that they met on “Short Bus;” they want that young, alcoholic nut bag who says anything he wants. He writes songs about fuckin’ guys that hold press conferences and then blow their heads off. I’m like, “OK, shit, that’s fine.” Then showing it to all the other people, I’m like, “No, we’re not going to make another pretty radio song. We’re going to fucking just go crazy.” That’s the good part!”
In having the privilege to attend Filter’s “Crazy Eyes” album listening party in NYC last week, hosted by Matt Pinfield, how did you feel in response to the positive praise your latest works received by those in attendance?
Patrick: “I was really happy, I mean, I like this record. I listen to this record in the car a lot. This is a record that I’ve listened to a lot ever since it was made. Even though it’s done and I’ve heard every little version of it, I still like to listen to it. It’s fun. You get in your car and you’re just like, “Oh, shit, I want to hear “Nothing In My Hands.” I think the song-writing behind that was really cool. I’m just a proud papa and it’s nice to get that validation from my colleagues in the industry. You get up, you pull your pants down and you’re like, “Here it is!”
In 1993, you departed from NIN & signed with Warner Bros. in 1995 releasing Short Bus with the instant classic hit, ‘Hey Man, Nice Shot.’ At what point in being on the road as a guitarist with NIN, did you feel ready to embark out on your own in writing music on your own terms?
Patrick: “From the moment I was in Nine Inch Nails, I was like, “Man, one of these days, I’m gonna’ do my thing.” Then it just became obvious. I mean it was so geared to support Trent and no one else and maybe if you did all this, maybe you’d get a little credit. And I just believed in myself and knew that I could do it. I quit a band right before the pinnacle of their career and I split to just be my own man. I think that takes a lot of guts, it was really risky, it could have gone south and I just believed in myself and went for it. I’m sitting here talking to you today talking to you about a career that’s lasted 30 years.”
Considering that digital streaming & download services such as iTunes & Spotify have completely reinvented how music is heard and purchased, what are your thoughts regarding physical vs. digital music?
Patrick: “I buy digital music off of iTunes all the time. I Shazam something in an airport or in a club or something; I Shazam it, I buy it. I am fully digital, but you know, CD’s are amazing because you get the artwork, you get to look at the lyrics, you get to look at the behind-the-scenes photos or something. And then of course LP, that’s the ultimate old-school, “Oh, wow, there’s a big, huge picture.” I was a CD baby because the quality was right there. There was no scratching and usually 9-times-out-of-10 it wouldn’t skip. I appreciate CD’s, but I’ve been digital for 10 years.”
So, however it gets to you and as long as you’re paying for it because honestly, people have to know that if you didn’t pay for it, you’re not helping the band. You’re enjoying the music for free. You’ve got to fuckin’ pay for the cheeseburger. You can’t just walk into someone’s house and take $15 bucks out of someone’s wallet and then walk out with their song. You can’t do that. You got to know the difference between stealing from being cool to the band and paying them what they’re deserved. Everyone has to make money. Instead of kids buying CD’s, they bought hard drives and just fuckin’ raped everybody. That’s why I love Pledge. I can’t say enough from Pledge Music. I mean it was so reassuring to just get financial reinforcement to go make a record that they liked enough to buy before even hearing it. They had heard bits and pieces online, but they just trusted and believed in us and that was a really great, reassuring thing.”
Fans of the rock community may or may not be aware that you are related to actor Robert Patrick, most notable for his role as the T-1000 in Terminator 2: Judgement Day, among various other roles both on-screen and behind the scenes. Were you both creative and artistically inclined from an early age and did either close friends or family members play a role influencing your career?
Patrick: “Robert and I were just crazy. He was growing up in Michigan then I came around and was growing up in Ohio. He was waiting tables and I was not really doing well at school because I had really bad ADHD. So, he was just like, “Look, let’s fuckin’ go for it. I’m going to go off and be an actor. I believe in myself enough, I just want to go do it. I want to be Steve McQueen, man. And I’m just like, “Hell, if you’re going to do that, I want to fuckin’ play my guitar and I’d rather sing, perform and fuckin’ enjoy it. Yeah man, we should do it!” My parents were like, “Wow! You actually did this shit! He sings and I act, ya’ know. So, hopefully I can act this year and get out behind my normal comfort zone.”
In going public about your struggles with drug & alcohol abuse to your success with sobriety, do you feel Filter has been more artistically expressive as a band, pre or post sobriety?
Patrick: “That’s a hard question. I think that part of my success was the fact that I would literally threaten your life if you got in-between me and what I wanted to do with my music. I was so drunk and in-your-face and so ADHD and so unhinged that I kind of got what I wanted. When you get sober, they teach you to go with-the-flow and treat people with respect. So, you can kind of go overboard and be like, “Fuck what you think! I think we should go into a regular, traditional bridge and we should do the regular, traditional chorus instead of being like, “Fuck it! I want to do this. I hear it in my fuckin’ head. You know? There’s a difference, so. Especially on this record, I had to be like, “What were you doing back in the day? You were just hearing what you wanted to do and knocking the mouse out of someone’s hand and you’d sit at the computer, fuckin’ bang on it and probably erase half the song accidentally, but sit there and actually make it work. I needed to have that anger and that edge and I just kind of made it.”
In terms of song-writing and considering you’re a guitarist, vocalist and self-produced musician, are you geared more towards the digital Pro Tools approach of recording or are you more analog driven?
Patrick: “Pro Tools! I’ve been Pro Tools since 1993. We bought our first gigabyte hard drive, it cost $4,000.00 because our ADAT tapes were eating up the fuckin’ tape and we were like, “Fuck!” You had to wait 5 seconds before you could start recording. You couldn’t just hit a space bar. I remember our computer would crash and we’d have to wait 15-minutes while it was booting up again. And then you’d lose like he mood you’re in and you’re like. “What were we doing?”
I want it all right now. Like, take this out right now. Truncate that, fix it, edit this, move this, this amp sucks, go back into the plug-ins. No amplifiers on this record. We use fuckin’ plug-ins. It’s your ears that tell you what’s good or bad. It doesn’t matter how you mic a fuckin’ old 1968 old twin reverb. Who gives a fuck? It’s about getting in there and making it sound good right now, let’s go! “I’m hungry! I want to go get some lunch. Fuckin’ make this perfect, I can’t leave hear until it’s perfectly crazy or fucked up. Yeah, it’s always been just me, a dude and a computer. The first 3-songs I wrote, I was with Lumpy and John Radtke. That was, “Nothing In My Hands,” “Your Bullets” and “Head of Fire.”
What is the basis for how Filter approaches writing music? Has it always been centered around the guitar or do other electronic elements come into play?
Patrick: ”Well, you need something to play notes and chords. So, for me, I just grab a guitar, I just grab a little acoustic guitar I have and think, “Let’s get a cool sound.” Then we’ll mess with that and it will inspire something. There’s never the same road. It’s always, every time it’s always a different road.”
With the commercial success of 1995’s Short Bus record, did you ever have the gut-feeling that “Hey Man, Nice Shot” would inevitably become such a huge hit single?
Patrick: “I had no idea. I knew it was really cool to me and I was like, “Fuck, this is something I would listen to.” There’s a lot of shit you come up with where you don’t even want to be in the same room when someone tries to play it. They all sit there and they don’t get it and you’re like, “Ahh fuck, I hate this!” “Hey Man, Nice Shot,” I’d be with my buddies and be like, “Listen to this shit, I can’t believe I did it!” I’m really happy it’s a huge it. That’s what we all want. For me, I just want to touch people’s ears. I want to touch people’s lives. I want to give them something they can release to towards their anger.”
The black wave-like Filter symbol can be found on the cover of both Short Bus and ‘Crazy Eyes.’ If you could elaborate on the meaning behind this symbol?
Patrick: “The Zoom Zoom. One goes right, the other one goes left. It’s a yin yang. An artist came up with it and I just always liked it. I thought it was like the NBC logo or those old logos, TWA. It’s just a cool symbol for the band. We kind of went some other places with it, but then I felt that that logo and symbol were the things I like. I want to make a backdrop that’s just one, big, huge, red backdrop with a white circle and the symbol right in the middle. It’s like full-on propaganda looking thing. My general manager’s like “It’s a Zoom Zoom! It goes Zoom this way and Zooms that way!”
For my official weekly Rock Radio Podcast, head to:
LIKE Us via facebook.com/grungemetalgraveyard