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Filter's Richard Patrick reflects on his time with Nine Inch
Nails and Trent Reznor, latest album, career highlights
Richard Patrick (Lead Vocals)
Bobby Miller (Keyboards)
Oumi Kapila (Guitar)
Ashley Dzerigian (Bass)
Chris Reeve (Drums)
Hometown: Cleveland, Ohio
Genre: Industrial, Rock Formation: 1993
With the latest album The Sun Comes Out Tonight and a bit of a lineup change, how did everything evolve?
As you know, Filter’s project was two guys in a studio in a house with a small amount of equipment that we rented and
kind of whipped up a record [Short Bus] somehow... and the next thing you know, it went platinum. So, we threw a
band together and for the next record Brian Liesegang split and I used Geno Lenardo and Steve Gillis to collaborate
with and Frank Cavanagh, but it was still me kind of single handedly writing a lot of it. Geno helped with "Skinny" and
"It’s Gonna Kill Me." There’s always this kind of projectness to the whole thing, there’s always... I don’t know why they
call it a revolving door, but it’s basically always been kind of a Queens Of The Stone Age Josh Homme type thing,
you know... and Trent or Prince, it’s always this kind of same thing, there’s always this one guy.
Almost like Pigface with the amount of collaborations and different members involved.
Right, but even that doesn’t have like a frontman.
Yeah, that’s true.
So, I was really impressed when Jonny Radtke came in to fill in on guitar.
He's Kill Hannah’s former guitarist?
Yes and he’s a really incredible guitar player and he learned everything and I knew I had a really, really talented
person and then I asked him to write some songs with me. It was instant. He sent me music as soon as he could and
I went home and worked on all kinds of stuff and I was like: “well, listen I like to collaborate with people so let me get
over there.” So, we wrote this song called “The Hand That’s Dealt” and some other stuff. Then, we got together with
Bob Marlette and Bob, Jonny and I wrote the song “What Do You Say” and “The Better Years.” The next thing you
know, Wind-up Records signed us and they liked the configuration of Bob, Jonny and I and the next thing you know,
we put an album out and we wrote a bunch of great stuff.
How do you separate from being in the studio with being on stage?
It’s two different beasts, it’s the live show and the studio. It’s two different animals. When you work on a record, you’re
an artist inside the studio using the studio as an instrument... and when you go live, you bring parts of that because
you can’t play programmed stuff live, you know what I mean, you’ve got to play along to it so the computer shows up.
I’ve been using a computer since 1989 to make music, so we bring that bad boy out and it covers all the sound design
and stuff that you can’t really reproduce live.
What's the biggest change that you’ve made both musically and personally since the Short Bus days?
There was a different writing philosophy for the first three records—the writing philosophy was stream of conscious,
stand in front of the mic, bleed out all your pain and anger and be drunk or be recovering from a hangover and live in
the moment. I call it the Gonzo music phase. And, after that it took me awhile to gain my barings, I worked with Army
Of Anyone, which was a big, huge departure and a very time costly event. When I came back to Filter, I was a changed
man... I was sober, I was becoming a new father, my wife and I were getting married. I had learned a few things from
the DeLeo brothers [Stone Temple Pilots] and put out Anthems For The Damned, which is really just a tribute record
for the Iraq war vets. Then a kid who got killed out there, Justin Eyerly who ran our website, that was really political
and I knew I was taking a bold step by bringing up the subject matter. After that we put out The Trouble With Angels
and it was kind of getting closer to what we had done with Title Of Record and Short Bus. Then, it was time to do this
record. When I was talking to Greg, who’s the A&R guy on this, he’s like a fifth member of the band to me, he said:
“it’s time... you’ve got to bring the guns and you have to bring the hookiness and you have to bring the scream and
you have to bring all that.” And I was like, “that’s exactly what I wanna do.” Working with Bob, he kind of goes for a
more melodic song approach, whereas Greg was more about bring the aggression and screams and be fuckin’ heavy.
So, we wrote “What Do You Say” and we wrote “Self-Inflicted” and just really fucking... “Self-Inflicted” is about Sandy
Hook and it's just really heavy shit you know.
Would you say "Self-Inflicted" is the primary song that stands out to you on the latest record?
“Self-Inflicted” is like the “Hey Man Nice Shot” of the record in the sense that it’s a complete social thing in asking,
“What the fuck were you thinking?” In the same way as R. Budd Dwyer, you know “What the fuck were you thinking?”
and you know, Dylan Klebold or whatever. "What were you thinking?" the guy that shot Gabrielle Giffords or the VT
gunman, you know, why are you trying to inflict pain on innocent people by doing what you’re doing and why do you
think that’s going to make it any better? It’s a bizarre concept that someone would just go postal and just kill people.
Filter's never been shy about those kind of hot topics.
Yeah, you know when people ask me what “Hey Man Nice Shot” is about, I don’t wanna say anything. On the record,
the copyright is 1995 because that’s when they put it out, but my own internal copyright was 1991... so Kurt Cobain
was very much alive, but everyone just assumed it was about Kurt Cobain and I said I’m not walking on Kurt Cobain’s
corpse like that, I’m talking about a guy that held a press conference and deliberately wanted to make a statement
[R. Budd Dwyer], and I’m still trying to figure out what that statement was, because he even got interrupted, he pulls
out the gun and he’s like... “no, no before I… wait, wait stand back, this could hurt someone, no seriously this could
hurt someone,” you know, so I never really understood what the last paragraph was, but the reality is that that was
missing from other Filter records, I wanted to talk about that. In The Trouble With Angels I brought up Jaycee Dugard,
who was kidnapped for eleven years, it was about what she must of thought and those things.
You and Trent Reznor sat down with The Sun Comes Out Tonight and almost had a listening party of sorts with it.
How did that all come together?
I missed my buddy, you know. I reached out to him and was like, “dude, come over, I wanna hang out.” And he was
like, “great, come on over.” So, we were just chilling out and listening to the music... he’s a big sweetheart. He’s a
good man. We had some fun. He’s a good guy and I’d love to go on tour with him.
So, you'd like to collaborate with him again?
I’d love to. If he’s got an idea or some stuff, maybe he could do something with Filter, maybe I could so some stuff with
Nails... who knows?
Before meeting with Trent to hear your latest album, thinking back to the Nine Inch Nails days when you were with the
band, was there a sense of animosity that you guys kind of got over?
Well, when I left it probably wasn’t the best way to leave. I was 26 and we were both really drunk all the time. I had
“Hey Man Nice Shot” written and Trent’s like, “yeah, maybe we could use some of this, maybe I could do something
with it.” I was like, “okay.” And I wanted to contribute and he invited me to contribute, but then I give him the song and
an hour later, a manager calls me and said, “we’re gonna own all the publishing.” And that’s just like, look I know you
guys made some mistakes, but I’m allowed to own my publishing. And that song is literally going to put my kids
through school, it generates a lot of revenue for my family and it was, you know, almost kind of taken from me. When
you write something, you own it, it’s your intellectual property. People don’t understand, music isn’t free... someone is
paying for this somewhere. It was one of those things where I just kind of left and he was unhappy with me and then
we just never really talked. I was drunk and might of said some stuff... and he said some stuff and then after awhile,
you start forgetting and asking “why were we upset?” I’ve known Trent since I was like 15. There were several times
when Trent and I were hanging out and he was like, “C’mon Rich let’s do this.” I was invited to be in Nine Inch Nails,
he asked me to be in Nine Inch Nails and I’ve got to remember that. I offered him music, it didn’t work on that level
because of the weird strings attached and I got a record contract the very next week. I was like dude, I have fucking
Warner Brothers. and Atlantic Records and fuckin Epic and they all wanna sign me and they’re not gonna make me
fuckin'... I need money and I need to be a fucking rock musician, instead of Nothing Records, I’m gonna make money
for fuckin’ Warner Brothers and they’re gonna fuckin’ give me a ton of cash... and I did. I went platinum and I gave
them another platinum record with Title and then I left Warner Brothers and said, “I’m done, I appreciate all your stuff,
it’s been more than seven years, I’m out.” It’s just this business.
You and Reznor seem to both approach music with somewhat different ears.
It must be really hard for Trent because he hears music in such a very, very specific way... and I’m a guitar player,
I write on guitar. He does too, but his main thing is, “how is it on a piano?” You can tell with Filter I have to have a
dark, angry, metal fucking sounding guitar as the basis, as the ground floor of whatever is going on. There’s a few
songs that are acoustic... and I’m talking about my kids... or my dad with “Take A Picture,” but surprisingly the majority
of music is written as heavy guitar driven rock and that’s the way I am, I’m built that way. So, when Trent heard the
new music he liked it and just like Trent’s songs, it makes so much sense that I’m gonna have my guitars and he’s
gonna have his synth and those are the worlds that we live in. And it’s still industrial, I pulled more from Ministry,
he pulled more from uh…
Yes, Skinny Puppy. And maybe Depeche Mode. But, those years are very fond years, just incredibly fun.
Trent and I used to have fuckin’ fun. If anything else, my job was to kind of keep him laughing 24 hours a day. It felt
like, “Hey man, I’m just gonna sit here and fuckin’ make you laugh, like all the time.” The jokes were out of hand and
there was all sorts of pranking and stuff like that. Nothing but fond memories. I really, really can’t say anything bad
about it. We were young and we were drunk and we were crazy and it was fun and you know, I split at some point,
but it was always meant to be a fun thing, and it was. He’s always been like, “Hey, great job.” It’s really interesting,
he said something about “The Great Gatsby” movie trailer and he said, “Dude, I heard you and it sounded really cool,
I was wondering who it was and someone said it was you and I was shocked, I was happy.”
Very supportive sounding.
Yeah, that’s the guy I was hoping was in there, you know in some fashion and he is. People get older and they grow
up. But, when you’re young, you’re hurt, you get hurt by things. You know, back then, it’s like: “Piggy left! What? Fuck!
What do you think it takes to make a hit song now compared to then, what are some of the changes you’ve seen?
My idols were The Rolling Stones and U2 and even “Stigmata” by Ministry has a chorus in it. (sings) “Stronger than…
you've run out of lies!… dugugugugugg” you know, it’s a chorus, it’s a hook. You know it’s, “you’ve ran out lieees!”
you know what I mean... “Stigmattta!” You know. Songwriting is something you learn from like The Beatles, you learn
from The Rolling Stones. And it is, it’s a musical release. With “Hey Man Nice Shot” for 15 years people are singing
the song back to me and it’s like, “What is that?” “That’s A Hook,” “Oh, that’s the hook, okay, cool.” Well, I wonder if I
can go like (sings) “ooohh ooohh oohh oohhh,” and if I take my earpiece out, I wonder if they’ll do it back. And they do.
It’s like a call and response.
It is. It’s an instant thing and people like it and it’s cool. For “Take A Picture” you can instantly sing that, so, for me it’s
kind of a fun challenge that, “Oh, I wonder how I can get people to sing this,” you know, (sings) “Self inflicteddd that’s
what I thoughttt!... self inflictted!” I mean, you know when you think of it from their angle and then you scream those
lyrics, it’s pretty cool.
Looking back through your career up to this point, what do you see as the biggest regret or something you could
change and on the other side of things, what do you see as the biggest highlight?
I don’t really have any regrets, I mean, it’s been a fucking amazing experience.
Yeah, it’s like no matter what experiences you have, you always learn something new.
Yeah, if it wasn’t for all the bad things that have happened to me, I don’t think that I’d be the man I am today. I have a
lot of hang ups about writing records, I have a lot of like, “hmm... what am I doing?” There’s a lot of confusion in some
Has there been any times where you like, “I can’t make music anymore, I can’t do this.”?
That’s the thing, at a certain point you have to kind of look around and find friends and share the experience with your
friends, like Jonny Radtke. When you get together with someone that’s as talented as that man, he can do anything on
guitar, it’s great. Anything is a lot! He cares more about an electronic overdub than he does about something else.
I don’t want to have to work with someone who’s like, “Dude, do you know that’s the chorus? Do you know that?
Don’t you know that? That’s the chorus.” You know. “Do you know the difference between minor and major?”
You know what I mean? In many cases with some of my former collaborators, I was like, “Yeah, that right there.”
Then I’d say, “Okay, take the guitar riff and double that and have that repeat four times.” And it was literally like (sings)
“dayyumm dundun dunn,” in “Skinny.” I was like, “THATs the chorus.” I’d grab a guitar and I’d turn up all the amps...
when I did “Welcome To The Fold” I just played and put four parts together and was like, “there ya go, new song” and
everyone was just like standing in awe, but in the fact that I could just poop them out whole like that.
For career highlights what would you say are some things that really stand out as landmark moments?
I think standing in Red Square or going to Japan. Traveling abroad, going to Iraq. A lot of them are private, they’re like
e-mails that come to me and go: “Me and my friend lived in Iraq together and we listen to Filter all the time and you
have such a broad musical spectrum that we listen to “Hey Man Nice Shot” or “Welcome To The Fold” before we go
into combat, or we’ll listen to like “Take A Picture” to remember our friends back home.”
Wow, I'm sure it's intoxicating to hear that.
Yeah, then he goes: “My friend was in Camp when you played and he was so happy and he called me on satellite
phone and he’s like, 'Richard Patrick is totally fucking hoarse but he’s making it work.' And I hate to say this, but that
was the last time I talked to my friend, he was killed in an operation the next week." And hearing and realizing that the
last thing he heard was his friend super happy and that his last memory was that he was at the Filter show. Knowing
that the music is in a soldier’s head or in the head of someone that’s sad that needs help... I know people know that I’m
a recovering alcoholic. I want to make a difference on the planet. Sometimes it’s fighting Ted Nugent inadvertently on
gun control or something... or maybe I think religion should be taken out of politics, I think religion should be kept in the
church and let everyone just be themselves and lets base what we do be based on rational thinking.
Would you say you’ve replaced alcoholism with more positive things and awareness?
Well, I’m awake now. The alcoholism is just like gone, so I have way more time on my hands. But, all of the things that
I am, it basically goes back to the fact that I want to make a little bit of a difference on the planet, I want people to be a
little bit more conscious of some stuff, but I also want to give them entertainment... I want them to fucking forget that
they’re in Afghanistan or forget that their parents are dicks or forget that their father’s an alcoholic. And honestly, I’ve
been through just as much tough shit as them and we all have to fucking pay our dues and we all have to pull up our
boot straps and we all have to just go. The career highlight is that I think I’ve made an impact on some people and I’m
honored that I was given the opportunity... and my job as a singer is about bringing someone relief and I am grateful to
have that opportunity. That's the biggest highlight.
Guitarist Jonny Radtke announced a friendly departure from Filter early March to pursue other musical interests and
says he and Richard Patrick will "always be close, and will continue to work on projects." With a new touring lineup,
Filter is currently on the road with Coal Chamber, Combichrist, American Head Charge and Saint Ridley. Following
up The Sun Comes Out Tonight, the band is now in the process of recording a seventh studio album.
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|Out Of The Blue
Publications Association, LLC
The Sun Comes Out Tonight (2013)
The Trouble With Angels (2010)
Anthems For The Damned (2008)
The Amalgamut (2002)
Title Of Record (1999)
Short Bus (1995)