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Filter interview 

Submitted by Peter Fenn on 2010-10-18
With millions of records sold and a handful of chart-topping singles, Filter is the epitome of a rock band that can withstand anything. Filter frontman Richard Patrick has been through it all in the past decade: Addiction, rehab, recovery, and now a return to making the solid hard rock albums his fans are used to. With 'The Trouble With Angels', Filter have returned to form, giving the world a record full of heavy rock music with the type of soaring vocals that only Richard Patrick can deliver.'s Peter Fenn recently had the chance to talk with Filter frontman Richard Patrick regarding the new album.
Peter: Hey Richard, how are you doing? Richard: Pretty good! We just played a show at the Roxy, and it was one of those hour and a half sets, incredibly hot, we're in a really big heat wave. Everyone was just dripping in sweat. I literally called out to my brother and said, "Why don't you start a mosh pit?" He yells, "You f***in p*****s!" We started playing "Under", and my brother in his fifties is like flying around with his Harley jacket on, getting all these kids into a mosh pit. It was insane. Peter: How does it feel to finally have this album out? Richard: I have to be honest, the reaction is insane. People are really chomping at the bit for this music, and I'm really excited about it. We've always been sort of an underground band, we've always had a really hard time releasing records and such. I've gone away and done side-projects and I've really kind of put my audience through a ringer, my fans especially. I finally gave them exactly what they wanted, and they're showing up and being awesome. It's being reciprocated, and I just love it! It's finally out, and I'm getting some surprises --- people love the song "No Love", and I thought, "Well that's a great song, but I thought everybody wanted hard music?" People seem to go two different ways with this album. Peter: Definitely. I can relate to that, because my favorite Filter song has always been "God Damn Me". It's a dark and crazy song, but it's very mellow compared to some other tracks, and I love it! Richard: Then you must like "No Re-Entry", right? That's just straight-up paying homage to one of the greatest bands ever, Pink Floyd. We were just kind of hanging out where they live a little bit, and just the whole song just sounds like heroin. I've never done heroin, but I'm imagining that's what heroin feels like. Peter: How would you characterize this album in relation to the other Filter albums in the band's library? Richard: This one seems to pick right up where 'The Amalgamut' left off. Peter: That's kind of what it feels like, too. It seems like the logical progression from that album. Richard: This is the type of record that a sober person makes, and the vocals are strong, confident, and powerful. They're not so crazy and insane, the lyrics aren't half-done. With 'The Amalgamut', I'm like, "Good Lord, what the f*** was I talking about?" I kind of appreciate some of it, but a lot of it was just phoned in because I was so wild. Peter: See, that's funny. I absolutely love that album. That's always been one of my favorite albums, so it's funny that you see it that way. Richard: I love it too! But like, just read the lyrics in "God Damn Me". I wish I could've completed an idea more often, and leave it less vague. That's the thing though, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I mean, I loved doing that record. I can actually tell you a really funny story about the song "The Missing". So we're sitting there, and we'd been working on the song for a long time, and I was on this really long binge, an especially long binge. I capped it all off after about three days of going, partying, being up --- I took some mushrooms, and it totally dilated my pupils. Ben [Grosse] was like, "Hey man, I just got "The Missing" done, do you want to come over and listen to it?" I had just dropped a ton of mushrooms, I knew I was going to be in trouble. He goes, "Well, as long as you can listen to it. You're usually okay. You're usually coherent, you know?" So I go over there, and I'm looking at the wall, and I go, "Hey, have you ever noticed how cool this wall is?" Ben is like, "Yes, Rich. The wall is cool." He brings me into the control room, and I'm just staring at the sound board. It's a SSL J9000, and there's literally a galaxy of lights and little meters, and I'm sitting there listening to this song, staring at this board with all these tiny lights just flickering all over the place. Ben goes, "So, what did you think?" I go, "Dude, I don't know how it sounded, but it looked cool as f***!" That record was kind of the indulgent, crazy, lunatic record. What '[The] Trouble [With Angels]' is… Well, have you ever seen the movie RocknRolla? Peter: Yeah, the movie that came out last year… Directed by Guy Ritchie, with Gerard Butler? Richard: Yeah! It's like at the end of that movie, when he picks up Johnny Quid from rehab, and he's just completely all back together, and now he's super dangerous! That's kind of what this album is. I'm not trying to toot my own horn here, but to me, that is kind of the way I felt when I got out of rehab. I meant business. That's what this record feels like. It feels like, "OK, I got my s*** back together, and here it is. I'm teaming up with some really amazing talent, and we all worked really hard on this, so let's rock! It's one hundred percent for Filter fans. I made sure every ounce of it was well thought-over. Even the auto-tune thing. People don't realize that I've been taking from hip-hop for a very long time. The first thing that I took from hip-hop and applied it to rock were drum machines. There was not a single played note from a drummer on 'Short Bus'. The entire thing was done inside a drum machine or a computer. Peter: That was pretty revolutionary for that time period. That album came out in 1995! Richard: So then I used auto-tune for half a second and people are all up in arms that I'm borrowing from hip-hop now. I'm like, dude, I've been doing this for years. I'm allowed to. I've been breaking rules since I got here, so you all should be ready! Peter: How do you feel like your songwriting has progressed through the years? You kind of touched on that for a brief moment earlier. Has it become easier now that you're completely there? Richard: Well, I kind of feel like I've found the perfect collaborator. My ideas get transported to another finished, completed version of what I was trying to do, through [Filter producer] Bob Marlette. He is my muse, he's the s***. I'm always going to be working with Bob Marlette. He's such a champion on this record. He put me in the studio, we worked hard, we didn't have a record contract. We were just like, we're going to hand some [record company] a gold bar and say, "Go promote it!" He's the champion behind this whole thing. He takes my raw talent, which has always been something to wrestle with, as well as some of my fallbacks. I'll get to a certain spot in a song, and I'll be like, "Where am I going with this?" He'll swoop and say, "Do this!" He'll throw in another beginning of a chorus or something. He's just a really smart, intuitive guy. What he lacks in vocal ability, I happen to have. So it's kind of a yin and a yang thing. It's probably the reason why this record came out so quickly after 'Anthems for the Damned', and hopefully in the future we'll go disappear for six months and have another record ready for you guys in two years. Peter: So I guess songwriting has become easier, with the right formula. Richard: I just like collaborating with people. I get more done that way. I really respect that, and it's kind of an easier thing to do when you've got someone to turn to and say, "Let's do this." There's so many things that I can be doing in terms of putting in the work and getting on the road. You know, Mitch Marlow did a lot of work on this record; he's just a genius! He single-handedly came up with all those verses and mellow parts in "No Love", and then he wrote the big monster riff! He wrote that. He came over to my house, and we were like, let's just rock in this kind of tempo, and that's what he came up with. I collaborated with Geno [Lenardo] and Brian Liesegang back in the day. So there are all kinds of collaborations that I'm doing here. There are a lot of things I've done on my own, like "Take A Picture" and "Hey Man, Nice Shot", and plenty others, but I also have achieved a certain amount of quality through collaborations. You've just got to keep your mind open. The mind is like a parachute, it has to be open to work. Peter: Who are your musical influences? When you go home at night, what do you pop in the stereo? Richard: I listen a lot to Vangelis' 'Blade Runner' soundtrack. There's a new version that just added a bunch of extra music that he wrote, and I like a lot of stuff like that. When I'm in my car and I want to rock and I've got the car all to myself, I'll play Mudvayne, Hellyeah, Pantera, or the Deftones. I like heavy music for the most part, but then again, you can't always have steak for every meal. You've got to have a salad every once in a while, if you know what I mean. Peter: I love the Deftones' new album, have you heard it yet? Richard: You know, I haven't yet! Definitely, I want to check it out. Peter: Looking back, can you believe you've been in the music industry this long? When you add up the years, can you believe you've been at it as long as you have? Richard: It's kind of like, where did it go? The 90's, those were great years! I just don't remember anything. Then the early 2000's I just sat here and worked things out and made music. The Army of Anyone project took four years out of my life. We waited three f***ing years to do s***. It was just like, Jesus Christ, how long does it take to put this record out? Then when we did it, they were immediately like, "Alright! Go make a new one!" Robert [DeLeo] and I were like, "Well maybe we should just go back to our other stuff." You don't look back, you just pump forward. I'm just glad that I got the chance to release 'The Trouble With Angels' at all. I'm lucky to be alive with the kind of s*** I was pulling back in the 90's. Peter: It's been a long ride for you guys, so it's great to see that you're still all together and the music is still of a high quality. Richard: That's all that matters, man! If I just put out s***, the audience would be like, I just can't take it. At a recent show, I was just like, "Do you like this f***ing record?!" to the audience. They were all like, "YEAH!!!" It just feels different this time. Everybody is talking about it! Peter: So what are your touring plans for this record? Do you have any plans for the rest of the year? Richard: We're doing a run now through the south and the east a little bit. We don't have much else set in stone right now, but we're going to just go! We've got all kinds of territories opening up to us now. The biggest rock label in European history has signed us and is pushing us all over there. Australia released the record too, and we want to go over there and tour too. There's been an amazing response. It's all over the place! America is my home though, we just went all over the US. We did the Bowery Ballroom, then we just played in Chicago, then last night! We're all over the country! Peter: Great! Can't wait to see you on the road, man. Richard: Thanks! We'll see everybody out there, I promise. I made this record for the fans, and we're gonna get behind it and rock out!