By Mike Bax
Photo by David Rubene
Richard Patrick is many things. An inaugural ex-member of Nine Inch Nails. Brother of the T1000 (Terminator 2’s Robert Patrick). An editorial writer, outspoken on the harder topics like warm, religion and politics. He’s also an outspoken ex-addict. He’s a husband and a father of two children. He also writes damn good songs.
After a few albums of what I would describe as decent but lacking albums, Patrick, along with his current bandmates Oumi Kapila, Ashley Dzerigian, Chris Reeve and Bobby Miller have created a new album called Crazy Eyes utilizing a label (Wind-Up Records) and fan funding via Pledge Music. It’s is easily the best thing Filter has done years, getting its commercial released this coming Friday April 8th. Take note: Filter, Orgy, Vampires Everywhere & Death Valley High play a show together at The Opera House in Toronto on April 24th. Tickets are available HERE
If you have ever wondered what the angriest Filter album might possibly sound like, you’ll find out in less than a week – Crazy Eyes is THAT Filter album. Patrick took some time out of his busy pre-album release schedule to talk for almost a half hour with Lithium Magazine about topics including: being a dad, drunken ex band-mates, and striving for great music and engaging fans on Pledge Music.
Richard: (checks his schedule for today’s press) We’re good. I just got the kids in the car – they’re heading off for a play-date. We’ve got time to talk.
Mike: I’ve always wondered this. How do you juggle being a parent and a rock musician?
Richard: A lot of communication. You have to change your mindset when you are around kids. I try and bring a lot of inspiration and fun and creative energy into it. My wife is a little more on the ‘be good in school, work hard, get good grades’ mentality. So am I, really. I tell them it’s going to be a lot easier on them if they have great grades. When I go on tour I go into a little bit of a pocket. It’s hard. I miss my kids. FaceTime is amazing. Skyping. All that stuff is great. But ultimately it does leave you heartbroken when you have to say goodbye. It’s bitter sweet. On the one hand you get to play concerts and have a great time. You’re making money and everybody is happy to be on the road playing live and signing autographs. On the other hand, your kids want a regular, normal person that is there every day. But they understand. I just explain it to them – Some people are policemen. They drive around and look for the bad guys. Some guys are in the army; they travel to a dangerous part of the world. And some dads work in an office and they come home but only have a few hours a day where they see their kids. For vast amounts of time I’m at home working on a record. So I’m really in their lives for extended periods. So you just have to explain it and make sure that they understand it. And I think about all of the families that have gone through divorces; the single mothers out there and wonder… I actually wrote a song called ‘Surprise’. It’s about when my wife is on her own with the kids. It’s a dangerous world out there and she’s gotta live life right. She’s gotta be the pillar of strength and goodness. And she does. She is an amazing woman. We would have never had kids unless I knew that a very strong woman was going to be leaned on while I was gone, you know? That’s just one thing on that topic.
Mike: I’ve been playing the new Filter album, Crazy Eyes, over the past few days. I’m super impressed. It’s a really great album.
Richard: Thank you. I appreciate it. I’m really proud of it, too. It was fun just to get back into the driver’s seat again. There’s so many eccentricities in making albums. When other producers work with me they make my work less angular. Less weird. So for this record I just said, “Look, at the end of the day I’m the producer and it’s my musical take on everything and just let me have the final say.” The record company was behind me and everybody understood that it’s more Filter if I just say “Dude, I know you have worked on this but I’m telling you it’s not something Filter would do.” When you can do everything on a guitar or everything on a computer, you tend to forget that it’s your opinion and your style and who you are as a person that puts it all on a trajectory that’s original. I just wanted to keep Crazy Eyes as original as possible. Back in 1986, I was listening to Skinny Puppy and Ministry and I was hanging out with this friend who had gotten a record contract, and I couldn’t believe that he had managed to even get one. We were from Cleveland Ohio; things were different there. We just didn’t think that these places/things existed. We were in a band and he already had his record done and some of it was pop but some of it was really heavy. And I thought that we should do more stuff like that. And then he did a record three years later, and it sounded really heavy and cooler and more industrial, and he listed me as an influence on his record. And I thought that was cool, but I want to do more than just be an influence. So I wrote this song ‘Hey Man, Nice Shot’ and they wanted to own it – they wanted to have everything behind it and they were going to give me a little credit and I said, “Shit man, I wanna own it. I wrote it.” SO then I left that band and went off and got signed to Warner Brothers and it was very easy. I just started building my life in Filter.
Mike: Thank god you did that. Some of those albums have scored bits and pieces of my life.
Richard: I got back to my industrial roots on this album. I wanted to be more electronic and dangerous. There are so many artists like Justin Bieber and Taylor Swift and Katy Perry who are being awesome at being optimistic and lovesick and all-involved in relationships. But someone has to be dangerous and weird and has to offset that to bring balance to the galaxy. That is what Crazy Eyes is all about. Obviously I’m a 47-year-old musician, I’ve been around the world a couple of dozen times and I’ve seen a lot of stuff. I’ve made a record that is a little more socially aware. But at the same time it still has a heart. That’s what we do.
Mike: To my ears, and I’m saying this as an untrained musician, Crazy Eyes feels a bit like a circle closing. The album has as much piss and vinegar in it as Short Bus did 20 years ago. And I’m totally good with that.
Richard: Yeah, the reality is that that guy has never really gone anywhere. You know, when you get sober, you start taking advice and all of a sudden producers start saying, “Oh, you’ve gotta get on the radio.” You know, people don’t realize that I wrote ‘Take a Picture’ as a prank. Think of what was going on in music in 1998. It was Korn and Limp Bizkit. They were dominating the airwaves. They were huge. And I was just like, “Fuck it. I’m going to make the most sugary sweet song about drug addiction.” The music is the feeling of drugs and the vocals are all about, “I’m losing my mind”. “I’m in jail.” “I’m naked on an airplane.” “I fucking can’t remember anything so could you take my picture because I can’t remember anything.” So my record company was like, “Dude, you just made it as this heavy ‘metal’ artist, and now you want to change gears?” And I was like “ONLY Howie Klien could understand that. (laughs) Howie Klien was a champion behind that record. He was the mind smart enough to let me do what I wanted to do. But at a cost, right? People that get into music and then change things up on the labels? That gets questioned. Look at AC/DC. The guy runs around in purple shorts. I mean, he’s sixty-seventy years old! “Dude. Are you kidding?? Put some fucking pants on!!” You know what I mean? Or, Gene Simmons. “Dude, you’re wearing make-up?? You’re fucking eighty years old or something. What are you doing? Just be yourself. Change it up a little bit.” Well, they can’t. People want what they want from that era. Honestly, that’s why Filter remains an underground band. Every time we take off I like to change it up. I don’t want to be a part of the ‘genre’. I could have just cashed in and done Short Bus fifteen times like a million other bands making the same record over and over. But I’m a musician. I’m creative. When I got signed to Warner Brothers they were like “Look, you are the artist. It’s an artist orientated label. And that is what you are. We listen to YOU.” So it’s always been like that for me. But the piss and vinegar thing, going back to that really quick; what I realized on this record was that I just want to be fucking angry and say what I want to say. I have an entire song about my friend who is still an alcoholic. And he texts me all the time when he’s wasted. He says the shittiest, meanest shit. So I wrote this song called ‘Kid Blue’ because that’s what fucking 1996 Richard would have done. That guy is still me. “Fuck you, I’m writing a song about you and it’s called ‘Drunken Texter.’ Or ‘Kid Blue Rides the Short Bus Drunk Bunk’, you know? There was only one guy in my band that was ever known as the bunk drunk. The guy who would literally lie in his bunk and drink beer by himself. I just wrote an entire ‘fuck you’ song about it; you’re a drunk texter? Well check this out. You’re going to drunk text me at 3 o’clock in the morning and fucking be mad at me because we don’t work together anymore? Fuck you. Here’s your fucking song. (laughs) But you are right, it’s totally Short Bus. It’s a totally big song, with a little bit of a Jane’s Addiction anthemic feel to it, with a big drum solo. Our drummer went off on the song. I was like “If you can play something that I can program, I’m going to fire you!” This guy Chris Reeve is my drummer. (Patrick mocks his accent) “You mean I can do anything I want?” And I said That’s right! We are in this big fucking studio and you can go ape-shit on this. So one or two takes later, we had this amazing genius drum solo. And of course the threat was all in jest, right? I would never tell my drummer I’d fire him if I could program his parts. But the impetus was to go for it. Do something wild. And that song is buried, right? It’s on the last half of the record. That’s why I love this record. There is just so much good shit you are going into on it.
Mike: ‘Kid Blue’ is a rager too. It’s an angry song. I dig it.
Richard: Right? What’s going on right now? Shouldn’t the music of the world sound like this? Shouldn’t there be this angry fucking intensity right now? Look at the world?? Everybody says “Oh, once you get old you mellow.” It makes my skin crawl when people say that. “What are you talking about? It’s so easy to be angry and destructive and insane right now.” It is so fun to go off. And that is the whole point of this record. A mass shooting happened while we were making Crazy Eyes and I knew I wanted to write something about that. Oumi and I couldn’t believe how insane that shooting was and he really opened up and made something really heavy for the song. There’s a lot of great talent on this record man. I’m proud of it.
Mike: Is all of that talent going on the road with you as well? Oumi, Ashley, Chris and Bobby are touring with you?
Richard: Oh yeah. The record that is coming out is being performed by these very people. You know, before Cee Lo calls and steals Ashley back. Before Chris gets swallowed up with something else. So many members of this band have parted ways because it wasn’t working out or we parted ways because band members would say “Fuck it. I’m gonna be in the Smashing Pumpkins. Later!” That happened in 1997. Our drummer Matt Walker was like “I gotta fucking pay the rent. I’m gonna go off and play stadiums with the Smashing Pumpkins.” That’s the music biz. Basically Filter is like Tom Petty or Bruce Springsteen or Prince. I just didn’t want to call it The Richard Patrick. I wanted to call it Filter because I thought it was a little bit more cool.
Mike: You know, when I found out I was doing this interview I went back and re-played some of your back catalog again. I listened to ‘Take a Picture’ again a few times in particular. And it’s not like the lyrics mean the same thing here, but our society is fixated on their phones and the cameras on them. Everybody is taking pictures of everything right now. That song is almost an anthem for the right now.
Richard: Yeah. It is. So, I’ve been dying my hair black since I was a teenager. “I’m punk,” right? Fuck you, goth kids!” Goth wasn’t even a thing back then. It was just kids that listened to the Damned and the Cure and Skinny Puppy. And there were kids who were into heavy metal and some of them were jocks or whatever, and I started watching our presidential candidate trying so hard to keep the four hairs on his head combed over in some kind of aesthetically pleasing way. And colouring it all with some kind of orange spray. And I asked myself, am I dying my hair black because I like the look of it? Or am I dying it because I’m trying to cover up grey hair? It sure isn’t the latter. I just stopped. I went totally grey. Acceptance, right? My fans were very receptive of that. It’s this incredible super shitty thing right now with Instagram. Do people not realize that you are only beautiful until you are like 33 or 34? And then you are just… everybody else. (laughs). That holy shit moment; we all get grey. Harrison Ford, he’s old and grey but he is still fucking Han Solo, you know? I love that. Bono is getting older but he still sings like a champ. Mick Jagger just played in Cuba with Keith. I think it’s great. I think age isn’t that big a deal now. I had this incredible back surgery a while ago and I’ve been making my way back ever since. I feel so good now, you know? I’ve learned so much about life because of it. Who better to kick down an industrial punk rock record that would just offset everything right now, right? You’ve gotta go around the world and get beat up a few times first. It’s one thing to be young and angry. But it’s another thing to be old and JUST as fucking angry. (laughs) Not that I’m old. I always say the word old; I’m still young at heart.
Mike: When I was 20 – 21, I couldn’t fathom being 49. You don’t think that way. And then it happens.
Richard: Honestly, with the drinking and the drug use, I thought I’d be dead before I was 30. I remember watching The Doors on TV and thinking: “Fuck, he went out early.” And hearing about Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix. I knew there would be no way my body would be able to take what I was doing to it at 30. So when I lived to 34… and then finally decided to quit drinking, all of sudden it was like “Fuck! What am I going to do with the next 60 years of my life??” (laughs)
Mike: How did you find the Pledge Music experience as a musician Richard?
Richard: I abso-fucking-lutely adored it. And here’s why: people get that if you go to a torrent site and pull the entire Led Zeppelin catalog or the entire Filter catalog right off of some Russian website, that you are fucking over the band. And you are fucking over all of the people that it took to make that shit. The people on Pledge understand: “I’m going to pre-order the cd, and I’m going to buy a signed copy. I will get updates. I just want to know what Filter are doing.” They fund and pay for the record before it even comes out. And you (as an artist) don’t have to deal with the monetary BEGGING that goes on with record companies or stuff like that. Crowd funding already scares the shit out of me. But Pledge Music is so NOT crowd funding. These are fans who like Filter. They know they would buy the record anyway. They put their money where their mouth is. All of a sudden you can breathe a sigh of relief. These are your fans. They just want to have the real authentic artist. They don’t give a shit about getting a song on the radio. They don’t care about how something might affect your sales in Argentina or whatever. As much as Wind-Up Records is like that, you still feel responsible to someone as an artist. When they say “Hey, are you going to make a great record for us?” There is always this art and commerce battle going on. With Pledge, I literally was able to pop up the heaviest shit ever recorded by our band – the meanest fucking song in the world – but with something inherently honest about it and ask “What do you think?” It wasn’t worded like that, but I put up ‘Mother E’ and that song actually got way more comments and way more of a reaction than expected. What I realized is that the gut instinct of my soul was to go as hard left as possible and scream and fucking go crazy on this record. To be as left of center as possible, because that is what I really WANT to do. And the response on that Pledge post was “YES. Take my money. I’m going to buy the vinyl. I’m going to buy the CD. I’m going to buy the shirt. YES. I’m backing this 100%. Here’s seventy bucks.” The average fan was up to $30 to $40 dollars. What you are getting is this incredible, real, analytical experience. You start to realize that all of these pledgers are mostly guys. Only 17% of our audience on Pledge is female. You start to measure things. What is it? It’s the heavy shit. You read their comments, and the more you pour yourself into it and the more you are yourself, the more they dig it. I’m a fucking goof-ball. I like to kid around. I like to play jokes on my friends. When we did some of the videos I was more into goofing off. Fuck being ‘cool guy rock star’. I’d rather just be funny and make you laugh. So I created Rotten Bobby. Rotten Bobby is our keyboard player from New York. the nicest guy in the world. But I figured it might be funny if he would go through the record artwork and he’d go “Hey Rich, there’s not enough fucking pictures of me here man!” I had some fun with that. Meanwhile, the keyboard player thinks it’s hysterical that I put it up and that people are thinking it’s so funny. Rotten Bobby Goes Through the Record Cover gives you this whole massive way to be creative with the fans and have some total interaction and do something special with them. It’s for Pledgers. PledgeMusic.com. Absolutely 100% I’ll never make another record without it. That is the internet on a really good, amazing level to me. That’s what it was supposed to be. You don’t want to make people broke. But you want to give them a little bit more if they are going to fork out their cash early. It was really good, really cool.
Richard: (checks the time for his next interview) By the way… Canada. Do you have any idea how amazing your country is? All we want to do is get up there and play concerts. That is all we have wanted to do for 10 years. Apparently the shows up there are doing really well. We are going to have a great time.
Mike: I’m looking forward to it. It’s going to be great to see you play again. And Orgy, too. I never got see Orgy back in the day.
Richard: Yeahhh! And he’s a Donald Trump supporter from what I understand. So things could get weird. I’m not really going to talk politics, but man. Donald Trump?? Man!!!
Mike: From the outside looking in at this presidential running, I’m pretty frightened about Donald Trump. That guy is a bully, and he won’t be a good leader.
Richard: And your Prime Minister? How do feel about him? He’s a gentleman.
Mike: I’m a bit of a sideliner politically. Trudeau is jockeying the weed thing, which I am ambiguous on. He takes a pretty picture and all that. He’s walked into a fiscal bill of goods from Harper that I don’t know if he ever had a chance of correcting. I think he’s getting a bit of a lynching on the public forum right now for that. He comes from good stock though. I like that he does his homework.
Richard: We like him. He’s civil. He’s willing to take refugees and he’ll go and select them himself.
Mike: Trudeau likes to be informed. He’ll go and look at something like that. Boards a plane and see’s what’s what. I do kinda dig that about him. He’s not just taking things that are being told to him at face value. He’ll go and have a look.
Richard: I like Barack Obama. Most of the country like’s him. Wish we could keep him.