Without a doubt, one of the most engaging, interesting and funny musicians I’ve ever had the pleasure of speaking to is Richard Patrick of Filter. Richard brought back Filter earlier this year after a five year hiatus while he worked on other musical endeavors and also battled some personal demons. So far, Anthems For The Damned has been very well received and the band has enjoyed some very solid touring success. A remix record titled Remixes For The Damned was released at the end of the fall and a tour with P.O.D. was supposed to begin in the new year until it was recently cancelled abruptly because of an apparent hiatus for P.O.D. Despite the uncertainty surrounding P.O.D.’s future, Richard assured me in this interview that Filter is still going strong and something that he hopes to be doing for years to come. Below is an interview I conducted with Richard this past fall and yet again he had many interesting and humorous things to say. Here is how our conversation went:
Last time we spoke you were in the midst of a North American tour with Ten Years and Opiate for the Masses. How do you feel about how the tour went? Looking back is there anything you would have liked to have done differently?
Richard: Um, I think I would have liked to change it up and do it a little more like we’re doing it now, like maybe a wider variety of stuff from all four records and change it nightly. And something that we did in Pittsburgh that I thought was pretty cool was I just handed a list of songs to the first person in the audience who raised their hand and I said “you choose the set.” And literally, this fan named Phil completely decided what songs he wanted to hear, it was up to him. And you know he chose “Jurrasitol” first and just picked some songs completely different from what we were use to and it was great, we had a good time.
The new album Anthems for the Damned has been out now about three months. How do you feel about the album now in comparison to when it came out back in May? Have your feelings towards it changed at all?
Richard: Well I love the record. I honestly think that, you know, I’m sitting here trying to have a political record and say what I want to say and the reality is that I think a large part of the audience doesn’t want to be bothered with reality; they want to be taken to kind of a never never land. It’s sad because I think this generation needs to think a little bit more than it is, but you know come November they’re going to put someone else in the White House and things are hopefully going to change.
The other thing is that I kind of wish I made a heavier record because I really really love playing heavy stuff live; I just have so much more fun doing the heavier stuff. I love the lighter stuff that Filter’s been known to do, but we’ve always been a heavy kind of industrial band in my opinion. The problem with being so diverse and so wide open is that some people in the audience like the lighter stuff and some people in the audience like the heavier stuff. You’re hoping to bring the two worlds together, but at the same time, I don’t know, I think we went for a more worldly kind of sound on this record and I’m leaning towards the next record being heavier and even more darker. I mean, you’re looking for regrets right, you’re looking for things I would change, I think I’m going to steer harder towards a darker, harder industrial thing even further than I did before.
I personally love the album…
Richard: You know I mean I’m just saying, with hindsight being 20/20, having felt kind of the energy from the audience and all that, I think I’m feeling darker and I’m noticing that people don’t really want to know about the war, they really just don’t want to know about it, it’s sad, it’s sad that this generation is like that. I thought people would be more like “yeah let’s fucking gather the troops and fight the powers that be.” I don’t know, doesn’t seem like it….
I was just going to ask you about that, I find that really odd. Do you find that people are just so apathetic? Are people just too lazy to care?
Richard: I’m not saying they’re too lazy to care, I’m just saying that their plates are full. They are fucking struggling with everything and it seems like you know, in the ‘90s when everything was said to be rosy, the apathy in our generation was really massive and I don’t think it’s changed. I just think that people would rather be entertained than they would….
Richard: Educated or antagonized into acting, pushed, challenged a little bit. I think a lot of people are just like “wow, Soldiers of Misfortune,” it’s too heavy. A lot of people live that every day and they don’t want to be bothered with it. It’s like, I have a doctor friend who spends twelve, fifteen hours a day helping people and reconstructing people and then at the same time, he likes to go hunting because he can kill something or destroy something. I think people just fucking like to throw their fingers up in the air and they don’t want to have sympathy, they just want to be taken away. But I don’t know, I still love my record, I still love what I’m doing and I’m proud of what I’m doing and it’s selling great. The model that we have, the way that I set my business up, I’ve had no debt or anything, you know debt is what destroys bands. When you owe a record company millions and millions of dollars and you’re not fucking like selling millions of records, you’re fucked, you’re gone, they’ll tear you apart, they’ll blacklist you, you’ll never be able to get another record deal. I’m actually totally, completely on my own, I don’t owe anyone anything and that’s a beautiful spot to be in. So again, I’m allowed to really do whatever I want to do and I said what I had to say and um, you know I’m looking forward to, because I have some time off here, I’m really looking forward to writing in between all these days off touring wise. Already, I’m calling some of my buddies up like John 5, I told little Mitch to start writing and same with John Spiker and um, I’m excited to make a fucking heavy record. It’s funny, the older I get, the meaner I want to fucking be. [laughs]
Now speaking of touring, you’ve been out on the road pretty consistently for a few months along with the new guys (Mitch, John and Mika) you’ve been playing with. What are your feelings on how the band has come together in a live setting? Do you think you sound better now than when you started touring at the end of the spring?
Richard: Um, I think I’ve met my guys that I want to stay with for a little while. I think that I can challenge them and I think I can bring them to a new level and I think they can bring me to a new level. You know, they know the drill, I’m liquid, I don’t adhere to any rules, if I think someone can play the instruments better, I’d get them. I can call up anyone I want and have someone come in and fucking lay down a solo or do this on this instrument…. So they know that things are very liquid in this band. Having said that, I think they really want to prove themselves and I think that they’re inspired with just being out with Filter for so long and having done it.
In addition to Anthems for the Damned, you have some other new releases on the horizon including a remix digital only album called Remixes for the Damned. Why did you decide to do a remix version and who are some of the people who helped remix the songs?
Richard: You know what, remix records are really fun because I have nothing to do with them other than maybe picking something out or maybe helping to pick a remixer out. It’s someone else’s version of what they think a song could sound like so I think it’s really cool. Remix records don’t really do well, but they requested one and I get a lot of requests for that kind of stuff and I want to put it all on one CD and put it out, same with a live record. I don’t know if the remix record is going to go to CD but we’re definitely going to do a live record. With this band, the rock version of this band is so talented, I just feel like bringing that.
Any names of people who are going to help remix the songs on the remix album?
Richard: God, there are so many that I can’t even think of anyone right now, there are so many guys. I think you’ll just have to wait and find out, it’s great sounding stuff, it’s beautiful sounding stuff and a lot of it has been released already, it comes bundled with CDs you buy in Europe or something. I just want to put everything on one, whatever it is, album and put it out…. You know I’m driving by the way, I don’t know if you know that…
You’re the one driving?
Richard: I’m driving yeah, I’m driving a car right now so I sound a little weird. I’m actually in Los Angeles.
You got two hands on the wheel?
Richard: I got something like that.
[laughs] Alright well if you got to bail at any time just let me know, I don’t want you to put yourself in danger.
Richard: Nah, I’m just letting you know that if I sound a little pre-occupied it’s because I’m driving.
That’s cool man, no worries. Just another road question, do you have any funny road stories from the last few months?
Richard: Ummmm, shit, I’m trying to think of something…. I mean you know, I had a back spasm and I had to literally… no that’s not good, fuck that. Funny tour stories, hmm…
It’s all good if you can’t think of one right now.
Richard: Well we got into a sharpie war, you know where you just take a sharpie and you walk around and when someone’s not looking you put a big line down their face or down the back of their neck or arm. So yeah we got into this big sharpie war and I literally felt so bad doing it that I had to stop, I guess I’m a pussy or a softie or something…. Like I did it to John Spiker, I just joined the sharpie war and he wasn’t expecting it at all and his whole neck was just wide open and I think he had just shaved it. You know how you got to shave a bit of hair off your neck? And uh, I fucking put the sharpie deep into his neck and just like scared him so badly with the pain. And he like was literally “you fucker!” He was so pissed off and I felt terrible, I was like oh my god, this is really hurtful, this is hurtful shit. So I had a meeting and I said I’ll pay you, I’ll give you a hundred dollars each if you just let me out of this sharpie war, I totally don’t want to be involved in this anymore, it’s too hateful.
When we last talked a couple of months ago, I asked you who you were supporting for president and at the time you had good things to say about both Obama and McCain but you resisted giving an outright endorsement. What are your feelings now on the presidential race and have you decided who’s getting your support yet?
Richard: Well you could put a six day old corpse in the White House and it would be better than what we’ve had for eight years. Having said that, I am a little bit more liberal in my thinking and I like Barack Obama. I like Barack, I think Barack is going to fuck shit up, I think he’s going to come in and he’s going to be a big enough change for everyone. But still, there are certain things that I’m not crazy about with Barack. So basically, it’s just, you know there are a couple of things, Barack doesn’t like nuclear power which I don’t understand. It’s been incredibly successful for forty years and um, this country has to get off of the oil craze, we all know this stuff. So I’m a little puzzled about why he doesn’t like that. And the other thing that I can say about McCain is you know, Republicans by nature always want to privatize everything and that scares me. I think we should have a happier blend between the two parties and maybe by having a completely new person come in, it’ll be enough to kind of shake things up. At the same time, McCain is a smart guy, they completely mismanaged that war and he knew the whole time that if you just put the appropriate amount of troops in, it would be better. Really, honestly I’m psyched to get rid of what we got.
What are your long-term goals with regards to Filter and music in general? Can we expect to see Filter albums and tours for a long time to come?
Richard: Yeah I mean as long as people go I’m down, I love it, it’s a beautiful life, I travel with my friends, I sing every night, I get to write music, it’s amazing. It sucks that I had to kind of disappear from it for so long because I think it’s hurt me but the reality is that I mean if I continue to put out great music, if I continue to tour and do my thing and play my songs, I think that things could just get better. We came back with Anthems, it was well received, as long as there is a music industry, you know it’s so amazing because I’m out here and it’s way different from the ‘90s, there ain’t no money in it…. I wonder if there are going to be any new real bands coming out, you know what I mean? I think Paramour and this other great band called The Urgency might be able to do something. At the same time, it’s a crazy industry right now. There’s no more labels, there’s just no more money, there’s just no more fucking money. You know Bruce Springsteen had millions and millions of dollars behind him, they gave him three opportunities to make a record that could stick and then it stuck and he kicked ass and did it. You’ll never have that kind of artist development anymore. If you’re not twenty years old making platinum records, you just won’t make it you know, you’re gone. So it’s really sad, it’s really crazy what’s going on. All these internet magazines say “yeah but aren’t more people listening to music?” If more people are fucking enjoying music, why aren’t we all playing arenas? It’s not like that, there’s no barometers, every barometer they have points to not doing well.
The internet has really fucked this shit up bad and when twenty-five year old kids are telling me that and they don’t even know how fucking amazing it was back in the ‘90s. I mean literally dude, I walked in with an eight track demo and they gave me a half a million dollars and said “go explore your creativity, go find yourself creatively, we believe in you.” You know the first song I released was a huge hit, but they were there, they were with me from the beginning, they were going to work this thing and make it great. As long as I have a business, as long as I can kind of maintain a certain amount of income with everything and continue to make music, I’m down, I love it, it’s a fun job. At some point I had to be truthful with myself, it was like do I want to do anything but Filter? I decided to experiment in the last five years with other bands and other projects, but when it came down to it, Filter’s the main thing so I just want to keep it going.
Well I think you definitely still have a very strong audience, judging by the show you did here in Toronto, the crowd was really into the music…
Richard: You know it’s really great to see them at the third song in the encore and just look out and see a completely satisfied audience and it’s about building that, it’s about building that back, it’s about building that trust. Let’s face it, I turned my back on Filter in a massive way several times, whether it be drugs and alcohol, whether it be other bands and now I just want to rebuild it and get it back to where it should be, a beautiful, amazing rock experience.
What’s next for you and Filter? What do you have planned for the fall and early 2009?
Richard: I think we’re going to announce some west coast dates, like a week’s worth of west coast dates and then we might go on tour with somebody.
So like opening for someone?
Richard: I don’t know, like a package or something? All these details will be figured out over the next couple of weeks. It should be as soon as we get back out, whenever that is, I literally don’t know when. [laughs] You know you’ve been on tour for a long time when you don’t know what fucking day or month it is.