Having played alongside one of the most iconic rock frontmen of the modern era, Trent Reznor, in Nine Inch Nails, Richard Patrick decided he wanted a piece of the action choosing to leave the comfort of the industrial giants to pursue his own career in Filter.
Late last year, to start celebrations for the band’s 30th anniversary, Patrick joined his former bandmates on stage at a show in Cleveland. The event saw Patrick perform on some of Nine Inch Nails’ biggest hits before he teamed up with Reznor for a performance of Filter’s biggest hit, “Hey Man, Nice Shot.”
In our latest Cover Story, we chat with Richard about rejoining his former band, the tumultuous journey he has been on over the past thirty years, and his thoughts on Filter’s critically-acclaimed 2003 album, The Amalgamut, which itself celebrates its twentieth anniversary.
For more information, hit the band’s website: https://www.officialfilter.com. Craft Recordings recently released the album on vinyl, for the first time ever. Currently sold out of the autographed LPs, they still have the black version available on craftrecordings.com. Order the expanded digital edition or order 2-LP set Right Here.
“I just want to make music that moves me and that’s what every Filter records does… the same thing. I just want to make music that makes you fucking want to rock.”
Richard, you celebrate 30 years of Filter this year. Congratulations on that…
Richard Patrick: “Yeah, 30 years of being a band. Wow, it’s crazy.”
I saw the advert you placed in Scene Magazine when you were looking for a band. What were your ambitions? What did you want from Filter at that point?
“I just wanted to make a living as a musician and bring music to the world and try my hand at it. Be a functioning adult making a living in music really. I had already made it with Nine Inch Nails. Trent was having a blast and I figured it looks pretty cool. Being right next to him for all those years, I wanted to express my own voice. I just had high hopes and it’s worked out ever since.”
I was gonna say it’s worked out all right. What did you take away from your time in Nine Inch Nails and, as you said, being next to Trent for so long? What did you take away from that into Filter?
“That it could happen and if you worked really hard, and you had the right couple of songs that things could happen for me. You know? That you can make it too.”
It’s a very different industry now, though, isn’t it?
“It’s very different. Very changed. Very crazy. Very different.”
Going back to pre-Filter. You were in bands growing up, how did you gravitate towards the industrial/punk thing? Was there a big scene where you grew up?
“It all happened in one day. I had been turned down by a record company because I sounded too much like U2 because I used to play through the digital delay on my guitar. They told me it sounds too much like U2, and I was devastated. I was this 17-year-old, highly emotional young man. I called my friend Trent Reznor and he said I had to listen to some new shit. We were friends back then, and then my friend Dave came over with The Land of Rape and Honey.
I’d never heard anything so aggressive and so amazing as that. I just never heard anything so crazy and insane. Then he gave me a Skinny Puppy record so industrial quickly changed my worldview. I just jumped feet first into it and just got into it.”
“Filter is literally anything it wants to be. As long as my compadres can help me pull it off live, as long as they can help me pull it off, and make it sound awesome it’s doable.”
As we said, it’s 30 years this year. When you decided you wanted to go it alone, did you think this far ahead? Did you ever think you would be doing this in 30 years?
“I do movie scores as well so I’m constantly working. I’m constantly talking to directors and working on their movies so I’ve crossed over to another way to be creative. The band is… well, it’s not like I’m trying to make hoards of money. I keep doing it because it’s fun to make. I’m doing it because I purely love the exhaust port of creativity that is Filter. Filter can be anything I want it to be. Filter can be soft and smooth and it can be abrasive and heavy like “Hey Man, Nice Shot”, and anything in between that is possible.
People have criticized me before. I had a label that didn’t understand that. My CD collection is vast, and it’s eclectic. Well… my song collection now because I stream everything but I absolutely adore artists that can flip-flop and go genre-crossing and just do anything they want.
That’s why I do Filter because Filter is literally anything it wants to be. As long as my compadres can help me pull it off live, as long as they can help me pull it off, and make it sound awesome it’s doable.
I’m free to do what I want. When you work on a movie score, the director comes in and goes and you’re beholden to him. You have to do that. Whereas Filter… the only person that gets to make every decision… the only tiebreaker is me and I listened to my bandmates. I listened to Elias Mallon who wanted to record drums but I wanted to use the drum machine. I listened to Elias and, well, that was a huge, great thing to do. I listen to my band.”
That’s a different type of creativity isn’t it with a movie score? I’ve had a similar conversation with another musician who said the two are very separate. Would you agree with that?
“You’re beholden to the whims of a director and a producer. You’re getting input from all these people, getting notes from all these people. It’s not like fucking I’m doing what I want. The band though, me and my bandmates are going to fucking choose our own destiny and we’re going to do whatever we want. So that’s why I do Filter because it’s a creative outlet like no other. It’s freedom. It’s total 100% freedom and I love it and it’s always been my baby. Even when I somewhat turned my back on it and did Army of Anyone. I’m still always beholden to Filter because I love her so much.”
Last year you went full loop to start the anniversary celebrations as you joined Nine Inch Nails on stage again. What was that like?
“Joining Nine Inch Nails on stage was hugely life-affirming. First off, Trent and I, as you guys say, we’re friends. All the bullshit from the past is gone. We’ve been buddies for, you know, 10-15 years now. When they got inducted into the Hall of Fame, I called them up and I said, “What the fuck man? What’s going on?”
He explained it to me. He said that I was only in the band for three or four years, which is true. A lot of other guys had seniority because they were in the band for like, 10,11, 15 years. So I just completely understood but he said, “Let’s go to Cleveland and play a concert and you come out and play like the last five songs with me and it was the most amazing experience. It was so much fun to be back with my band. Yeah, and my old bandmates and Chris and Danny Lohmer and Robin Fink and Sandro and Ilan. I mean it just was just absolutely the most wonderful experience. I mean, it was so awesome. Trent having me sing. He had me singing “Eraser” and singing the backups on “Sin”. Singing the second verse to “Head Like A Hole” and doing “Hey Man, Nice Shot”. They learned “Hey Man, Nice Shot”… it doesn’t get any better.
It was really good for us and I love Nine Inch Nails. For years I didn’t listen to Nine Inch Nails because so many people just automatically assumed I was gonna be Nine Inch Nails industrial when I quit. I’m very impressionable. When I hear beautiful music sometimes I’ll start sounding like it. When I heard that digital delay on The Edge’s guitar that was the coolest thing in the world. I had to literally get rid of my U2 records because I literally was listening to them and sounded too much like The Edge so I needed to. I didn’t want to be a Nine Inch Nails knockoff, you know what I mean? I wanted to be totally original on my own.”
What would you put that down to? Is that you being a perfectionist or an obsessive?
“I absorb music so I would have absorbed the Nine Inch Nails vibe or sound and used it for Filter and people would have assumed that I would have been a Nine Inch Nails knockoff. People saw I went out of my way not to listen to Nine Inch Nails after I left because I literally was like Filter has got to stand on its own two feet. I’m industrial because I listen to Skinny Puppy and Ministry. I’m also into Helmet and grunge, the drop the guitar parts.
I had to make my own way and I wanted Filter to be completely original on its own which I have now accomplished. It doesn’t draw from anybody. It is completely original. Especially with this new record. If you love Filter, this new fucking record reminds me of Title of Record and The Amalgamut. I want you to hear it because it’s the best. I’m not kidding. It’s the fucking best thing I’ve done in 20 or 30 years since Title and The Amalgamut and Short Bus.
When I did the reunion, I did a Nine Inch Nails deep dive. I just researched and I literally listened to The Downward Spiral for the first time about a week before I went and played with Nine Inch Nails. I also caught the show in Santa Barbara before I was due to meet him out in Cleveland. I told Trent this is the first time I’d seen Nine Inch Nails. It’s crazy to think like that because either I’ve been on stage or I haven’t seen him. That’s amazing, right? My hat’s off to Trent, he’s an amazing dude. He’s done so much for the world of music. I’m just glad to be his friend and I’m glad that we got over our bullshit years and years and years ago.”
“I do Filter because it’s a creative outlet like no other. It’s freedom. It’s total 100% freedom and I love it and it’s always been my baby.”
One of the things you’re doing is the Sick World Festival in May. I’ve looked down the lineup for that and there are a lot of bands playing that you’ve mentioned like Ministry and Skinny Puppy. What’s it going to be like seeing those bands that essentially shaped your career and musical life?
“I’m actually going on tour with Ministry, Rob Zombie, and Alice Cooper so I’m gonna see Ministry every night. I’m gonna walk offstage and go see Ministry every night and I’m going to be happy, and grateful. I had a long conversation with Al once and I told him he changed my life. I’ve known him for years and years and years…”
I was gonna say you must have crossed paths during your time with Nine Inch Nails and Filter?
“Yeah, he produced “Get Down, Make Love” and I was there for that but there was a stretch where I hadn’t really talked to him in a long time. Also, I had never really shared the inside scoop which was Ministry changed my life. I mean, Ministry literally changed everything.”
That tour is a great way to celebrate your anniversary as well. Now, apart from the 30th anniversary of Filter, it is the 20th anniversary this year of The Amalgamut. What’s the first thing you think of when you think about that album?
“The Amalgamut was done during a pretty tumultuous time in my life. Because of my alcoholism, it was really difficult for me to really focus on the record. It was bittersweet for a long time because, when I got sober, I just heard the alcoholism. I disliked some of the lyrical content. Some of the decisions I made as a singer were really bugging me because I was wasted when I made those decisions. It was just very bittersweet because I love the record, but I was always high when I was hearing it. I was wasted on the whole world today and all that stuff.
That crazy stuff I did at the end of the record… it was so much fun to do that stuff and I was on so many drugs when I did that but it was bittersweet because when I heard it sober I still liked it but, God, it was really fun when I was high. I was so at the tail end of my drug use and alcoholism. But now I look back on it. I love it. Absolutely. I’ve been listening to it on vinyl. When it’s streamed or when it’s on CD, it’s just so bombastic and big and low and has so much low end on it. You can’t really capture the low-end on vinyl, but it still holds up. It’s still a great record.”
What you said about it being a tumultuous time. When you listened back to it sober after you came out of rehab, what were your thoughts on the record?
“I felt the record was incomplete because I felt like I needed to rewrite some of the lyrics.”
I’d read somewhere that you said you cringed when you read some of the lyrics. Was that the case?
“Yeah, that was absolutely the case. “Where Do We Go From Here”… some of the lyrics I think I would have changed. People still love that song so I wouldn’t change too much. When I sing it live, I try and sing it to the best of my ability. That song… it’s high and when you’ve been singing all night long, you got to hit that song. you gotta grab your balls. Put your balls in a vice and scream that lyric.
Some of the lyrics are a little cringy but people love the record and I’m grateful that they do I’m very happy. I’m proud of The Amalgamut. I love what I call the Warner Brothers trilogy.”
When the album was recorded, what did you want to achieve with that record?
“I just want every Filter record… it’s the same thing… I just want to deliver something that makes your head move. It makes you want to drive fast in a car. I want it to satisfy that primal or that ape-like the uncontrollable urge to just move your feet and get into something. I just want to make music that moves me and that’s what every Filter records does… the same thing. I just want to make music that makes you fucking want to rock.”
Being sober does that put a different outlook on music for you?
“You know, the funny thing is, as I’m making decisions, I’m always thinking would 25-year-old Richard do in this case? I wrote this song called “Command Z” on the new record and in it, I sing this chorus I go, “That’s why I want to be. That’s why I want to be high as a motherfucker.” and it’s so much fun to hear that lyric. A friend of mine told me I can’t say that and I said I’m saying it because that’s how I felt when I was 25. When you hear the song you’re gonna love it. It’s a huge, beautiful, gorgeous, amazing acoustic song.”
The record I believe was inspired by your thoughts on the commercialization of American culture. Was that the case?
“Yeah definitely. I was pretty wasted when I wrote it. I love the diversity in the world. I love the diversity within the United States. I love the fact that if you come from New York, there’s a certain way you talk. When you come from England, it’s English and beautiful. I love the different cultures in the world.
My family history is that we were persecuted in Scotland. My sixth great-Grandfather, Jacob Patrick, went to Ireland. His name was McLeod or something like that and he went to Ireland and changed it to Patrick. Then he got on the ship and went to America. His uncle was the guy that owned the Patrick Inn, which is where they wrote the Declaration of Independence. That was our fuck you to England and saying, we’re doing our own thing. I love the fact that I was Irish for a minute, you know what I mean? I love the fact that I’ve got this heritage. I didn’t want to but I love the fact that it was also what I call an amalgamation.
I had shed all of what used to be my heritage, and I’m just a straight-up American mutt. Someone with no accent. A very plain bland accent from the Midwest, who grew up and is now just this amalgam of all these cultures. I felt like the world would be a better place if we literally were all just mutts together. I truly believe that, in America, we’re all mutts and we’re all supposed to blend together and be this melting pot. And that’s okay. That’s a good thing.
There are so many American cultures out there. So many diverse cultures. There’s so much different culture in America especially… even in the UK. It’s just difficult to blend. It’s weird because you’ve got these guys on the right that are up in arms about drag queens and all of a sudden but drag has been a part of history forever. Shakespeare had men dressed as women on his stage because women weren’t allowed to be actors at the time. Movies like Tootsie, Mrs. Doubtfire…
It’s like this fake outrage to anything that goes against what these people on the right consider to be Christian values. They’re wrecking it for people that just want to be themselves and be crazy. One day, we’re all going to be stripped of our heritage, and we’re all going to be stuck at some new base level. One standard but we should all be different and creative and all awesome to each other.”
“I felt like the world would be a better place if we literally were all just mutts together. I truly believe that, in America, we’re all mutts and we’re all supposed to blend together and be this melting pot.”
In terms of the new record, is that the theme running through this new record?
“This new record is… it’s really about sticking up for the little guy. The whole album is about not listening to leaders that lie to you. Don’t accept the lie. There’s one song where it’s a little autobiographical about the stuff that I’ve been through but the rest is just all about sticking up for the little guy and how we should stand up for those who can’t stand up for themselves.”
What are your ambitions for the future as an artist and a creative?
“It’s just to always keep putting out new music, and to keep working in music and film and being creative then travelling around the world and singing my songs. It’s all of the above, just to keep doing what I’ve been doing for the past 30 years.”
05/13 – Las Vegas, NV – Sick New World Festival
05/21 – Daytona, FL – Welcome to Rockville Festival – Daytona International Speedway
05/23 – Atlanta, GA – 37 Main *
05/24 – Asheville, NC – Salvage Station *
05/26 – Winchester, VA – Blue Fox Billiards +
05/27 – Syracuse, NY – Kegs Canalside +
05/28 – Columbus, OH – Sonic Temple Festival
05/30 – Mechanicsburg, PA – Lovedraft’s ^
06/01 – Leesburg, VA – Tally Ho Theatre +
06/02 – Crownsville, MD – Let’s Go Music Festival
06/03 – Jacksonville, NC – Hooligans +
06/16 – Highland, CA – Yaamava Resort and Casino
08/24 – Dallas, TX – Dos Equis Pavilion
08/26 – Tampa, FL – MIDFLORIDA Credit Union Amphitheatre
08/27 – West Palm Beach, FL – iTHINK Financial Amphitheatre
08/29 – Raleigh, NC – Coastal Credit Union Music Park at Walnut Creek
08/30 – Virginia Beach, VA – Veterans United Home Loans Amphitheater
09/01 – Tinley Park, IL – Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre
09/02 – Des Moines, IA – Wells Fargo Arena
09/05 – Clarkston, MI – Pine Knob Music Theatre
09/06 – Toronto, ON – Budweiser Stage
09/08 – Scranton, PA – The Pavilion at Montage Mountain
09/09 – Wantagh, NY – Northwell Health at Jones Beach Theater
09/10 – Hartford, CT – The XFINITY Theatre
09/12 – Nashville, TN – Bridgestone Arena
09/16 – Englewood, CO – Fiddler’s Green Amphitheatre
09/19 – Ridgefield, WA – RV Inn Style Resorts Amphitheater
09/20 – Auburn, WA – White River Amphitheatre
09/22 – Concord, CA – Concord Pavilion
09/23 – Anaheim, CA – Honda Center
09/24 – Phoenix, AZ – Talking Stick Resort Amphitheatre
* with Uncured, The Haunt
+ with Uncured, Another Day Dawns
^ with Uncured