Interview: Richard Patrick of Filter
Wed, 03 Jul 2013 09:26:11
Every once in a while, a band taps into its initial spark and sets it off even brighter than before. Now, Filter's Short Bus is an industrial rock classic. It's got the requisite venom that all great heavy rock brandishes. However, the band's latest salvo The Sun Comes Out Tonight fine tunes that aggression and yields some of the most potent and powerful anthems of the band's career. Its titanic heaviness remains undeniably irresistible. The sun is out and Filter is better than ever.
In this exclusive interview with ARTISTdirect.com editor in chief Rick Florino, Richard Patrick of Filter talks The Sun Comes Out Tonight and so much more.
The album taps into that aggression of Short Bus, but it has the songwriting sensibility of The Trouble with Angels.
That's kind of what the deal was. Bob Marlette has this built-in "song finishing" quality to him. Johnny and I would come in with these ideas. We wrote together on our own too. Bob would just put these last little details in there. You'd be like, "Oh, wow!" We wrote with Bob too. We wanted to make sure it sounded more "finished" and not loose.
Did you approach The Sun Comes Out Tonight with one vision or vibe in mind?
I was all about the heavy. I was constantly bitching, "It has to be fucking heavy". The reality was we all wanted that "smack you in the face" quality that "Hey Man, Nice Shot" has. That's what I like. I also like "It's My Time", "Surprise", and "First You Break It". For me, it was like, "Hey, we're not going to fuck around". On "This Finger's You", I wanted to stay mean and heavy for the entire song. "It's Gotta Be Right Now" sounded like I finally got the heaviness and the screaming aggressive thing. On "We Hate It When You Get What You Want", I felt like I was finally able to scream at someone who wronged me and my family. I felt like "Take That Knife Out Of My Back" was fucking heavy and mean. That's where I honestly started from. I like screaming. I can scream. There's no reasons why I can't do all of this. I do 14 shows in a row. Once in a while, my voice will get a little tired. One of my favorite things is to scream as high as I can. Wind-up Records signed us for that. I was like, "Thank you!" I got to finally push for that. If you've heard Polar Moon or any of the things Johnny does, he loves the heavy, but it's not the only thing he's into. He really likes "Surprise" and "Take a Picture". It had to be fucking pissed and rage. I'm at a very angry point in my life right now. It's got to be represented. I always thought it was best to write what you know. I called my early writing the "Gonzo Music Phase".
What do you mean by that?
I didn't want to admit I was an alcoholic, yet I would write these lyrics at the microphone and say, "You're drinking yourself away". I'd be like, "Whatever, let's put into the computer and see what happens". People would confront on me lyrics and I'd reply, "I don't know what it is. I just put it out there". It wasn't until later on that I thought, "I've experienced enough in my life that I can always think of that, go back to that, and reflect on that, but it's also important to stay hinged where I am now as a forty-five-year-old man". Now, I've got the experiences. I can draw from twenty years of making music to know everything I want to say. "Hey Man, Nice Shot" was like well, "I don't have anything to talk about other than this bizarre story of a guy who killed himself at a press conference". I was trying to understand it as a twenty-two-year-old kid so I figured I'd talk about. Now, I can even look back on songs from Title of Record. That was a place where I didn't want to admit I was having issues with drugs and alcohol. I was so in-the-moment that I wrote about whatever hit my head. It was very stream-of-conscious. Now, it's like I'm reflecting back on all of that. If I want to talk about something socially, "Self Inflicted" is about a guy getting mad at society and killing everybody. I talk about things like that. Then, there's "Watch The Sun Come Out Tonight". I'd come back from these Nine Inch Nails tours, and I'd go on these adventures in the city of Cleveland. I'd walk around from ten o'clock until five in the morning on acid and riding drawbridges. You'd get underneath a drawbridge, hold on to it, and ride it up as a lake liner would pass. I lived this strange of life of being on drugs at night and feeling like the sun had come out and gave hope. There are all kinds of things I can talk about. For me, this record has the best of all the worlds. I get to talk about the social things and the drugs as though I'm living it firsthand now because I lived it firsthand back in the nineties. I get to talk about anything I want. It's all underneath the assumption that it's completely coming from my life. When I was a kid, I didn't know that much. Now, I know so much. It's been awesome.
What does "Burn It" mean to you?
There are a lot of people who reach out to me on Facebook. There's one girl who cuts herself. She was abused since she was a kid. There's that idea of giving up. I had a friend of mine kill herself a couple of days ago. It scares me. People can't cope, and they kill themselves. I'm in this secret society of people who stay sober off of alcohol and drugs and because of that I know a lot of other people who give up. The give up is killing themselves. They can't drink themselves to death, which is what they want to do. They end up killing themselves. It's literally burning someone's house down and burning their lives up. I used to know this lady who would put cigarettes out on her legs and make these patterns there. She'd scar them, and it was like crop circles. There were all of these burns in a geometrical shape like crop circles. That's taking it to another whole level. Having survived my drug years, you meet a lot of amazing people who hopefully get their shit together but most of them don't. They hurt themselves. They find relief in pain. It's heavy duty shit.
Where did "It's Just You" come from?
It's wild because I wrote a song called "Take A Picture". That was another stream-of-conscious song. There was no thought behind it. It was off-the-cuff. It was emotional. I was so lonely. When you drink, you feel cutoff from everybody. The isolation is wild. You isolate yourself, but then you realize you're left all alone. I'd get in trouble. I got arrested, but I was taken to a psych ward. That was the second time I had an issue on airplane. I was like, "I bet my dad's going to be proud of this!" There's that song, "Dad, I'm In Jail". "Take A Picture" was my homage to that. "Hey dad, what do you think about your son now?" is a double entendre. Do you think my platinum records are cool? Do you think I'm a success? Do you know how much pain I'm in? Do you have any idea what's going on with me? I think everybody has that thing with their parents. They want to figure out their moms and dads. I had no idea that was going to have such a huge impact on so many people. I get emails from people all the time referencing that song. Music is the only thing I have. I didn't want to do drugs. I don't want to smoke. I don't want to drink. I don't want to eat. I listen to music to calm me down. Getting into music wasn't about chicks, money, or cars. My idols were Al Jourgensen, Nivek Ogre, Joe Strummer, and Bono. Those are my heroes. To know that my music actually meant something to someone at a super personal level, I decided to leave the record on a super high note. I wanted to let everybody know even when they're at their most vulnerable, you can always make it. There's hope at the end of any situation. I've been through it. I've been to Iraq. Someone shot a fucking a rocket at us after we got off stage. I've been all over the world with my music. I've experienced all of it.
If you were to compare the album to a movie or a combination of movies, what would you compare it to?
That's a tough one. In certain aspects, I want to say it's like Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. What's a movie about betrayal? How about The Empire Strikes Back? It's got a little bit of a cliffhanger with Han Solo in Carbonite with "Its My Time". There's some unfinished shit, but you get a glimmer of hope when you're looking at the galaxy. You shut me up [Laughs]. I'm yammering about all kinds of shit now I'm stumped! It's like Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas meets The Deer Hunter meets The Empire Strikes Back, and that's my final answer. There needs to be some revenge.
What about Taxi Driver?
That's it [Laughs].
What's your favorite Filter song?