Have you heard the new Filter record, The Sun Comes Out Tonight, yet? Well, what are you waiting for? Lead vocalist Richard Patrick recently spoke to us via phone to talk about the new album, the upcoming tour, and what the biggest difference is at being in Filter in 2013 versus when the band started in 1993. read on for more:
What sets The Sun Comes Out Tonight from other Filter releases?
Honestly, it’s our guitar player Johnny Radtke, and this is our first record on Wind Up Records and we are extremely excited.
You worked with Bob Marlette for your last record, The Trouble With Angels, why was he the right choice again for TSCOT?
Bob’s really great because he does great writing with us. He’s a pretty good producer and he’s mixed some of the record. Chris Lord-Alge’s mixed some of the record, too. We like writing with him, his songs are really good. We’ll get a bunch of raw, great ideas and he’ll just help put some finishing touches on stuff and it’s kinda cool.
TSCOT sounds more in tone with your earlier work than the last two releases. If so, was it a conscious effort to go back to that sound?
You know, when my artists can kind of like go back to what made them big in the first place, to me, it’s gratifying. I like the Rolling Stones to sound like the Rolling Stones. So for me to go back and say: “Y’know, I really love industrial…” What was my favorite part about it? Well, they used synthesizers and they used samplers. What do I love about synthesizers? I love the band Jealous and early ’80s synth. I worked with Mike Lauri and John Alicastro and those guys added a bunch of synth overdubs to the whole thing. Being a digital world they did it all from New York while we were in California kind of giving them direction and they would work on these sounds. It was a really great process and that’s the thing with Filter, we’ve never been bound by any kind of genre. We’ve always tried to say: “Look, even though we’re industrial, we’re still rock!” And we got away with so much on Title Of Record and on Short Bus…You know, Short Bus is this totally angry, pissed off industrial record but for Title Of Record we really branched out and did some band stuff. Even on that record we wrote a Top 10 Pop song and that’s a huge palette of colors! Within those colors and within that paint we could really kind of take what we wanted, what we liked, from the past.
You know, you’re always doing something for the moment. I listen to Skrillex and a lot of the new artists that are out today and I also had my own voice and the way that I am now. We’re not in a vacuum, we’re creating music for right now and for today’s world but we’re always going to have that reflection on what’s cool. And a reflection of what we liked from the past. This record is entirely drum machine. At the very end we were like: “Should we get some live drums?” and then I saw some documentary where it was like “You can only do rock ‘n’ roll with drums…you gotta really play…and you can’t use computers and computers are bullshit” And it was like: “Okay. Really???” Going back to my Short Bus attitude, we didn’t know any drummers. We didn’t really care. We wanted to make our music. I was a guitar player/programmer. So was Brian Liesgang and that’s what it is now: Jonny Radtke and I sit there with a computer. The whole process starts when we turn that thing on and start working on it. As much as we love the guitar, y’know, “back in my day” we spent four grand on a gigabyte and it was a big deal. I asked a kid to play drums in Cleveland, Ohio and his guitar player leaped over the fuckin’ table and punched me in the face and said: “Don’t you dare steal my drummer!!!” Looking for a drummer was a dangerous business for a kid back in Cleveland. It’s just the way we do business. It’s the way we write our music. We like to incorporate everything. Everything! I’m not trying to recreate the ’30s. I’m trying to recreate right now.
Your voice and especially your distinct howl are synonymous with the “Filter Sound”. How have you maintained your voice over the years?
Well, I quit smoking and I quit drinking and I started using warm-up’s and I went to this vocal coach and he sat me down and said “Well, this is what you got….” and you gotta do this, that, and the other. I go in for check up’s all the time and get it looked at. You gotta be real careful man, it’s just two pieces of skin. When a guitar player gets callouses on his fingers that’s a good thing but when a singer gets callouses on his throat that’s a bad thing. Thank goodness there’s a loooooot of great technology out there now. I haven’t had to use any of that but if it ever becomes a problem ….the good people at Aftra, right? The good people at ASCAP are gonna make sure that I’m okay.
Being an artist who’s very active with various social media, how do you feel the platform has helped or hurt artists over the years?
I don’t know. It’s wild. You know, we have a song that people hear in a movie theater and they Shazam it in the theater or they go home and they watch it online and they Shazam it with their phone and they find it and then go: “Wow, it’s on The Stepfather soundtrack. I don’t care! I’m gonna buy it!” That’s eleven thousand singles sold last week of “Happy Together” and it’s wild because we went to radio with it about three years ago and no radio stations are playing it but still we have this kind of viral hit. It all has to do with the music, man. You gotta make some cool music. You gotta have something to offer. The record company is online. The record company is on the radio. They’re all over the place. They’re hedging their bets everywhere and they’re saying that this is our new stop and you just gotta kinda hope that it all kind of works itself out.
You know, the internet is starting to pay us back a little bit but people have to make the conscious decision. I was in an airport and a girl looks at me and she goes: “You look like a musician and I got online and discovered that everything’s for free on the internet…” And I was, like: “Oh, really?” and I pulled out my phone and opened up a picture of my children and I said: “This is what you’re ripping off. You’re taking their food…” and she was freaked. Then she said “Well, what are you gonna do? Guilt me into buying it?” And I said: “Well, your mother raised a thief and that’s who you are and you don’t realize it!” It’s not free. It’s stolen! And you’re taking it and it costs money to do these things. It costs money to make movies. It costs money to make TV shows and music. And that’s just the cold, hard facts. People can pick on me. People can pick on Lars Ulrich but all those guys are having to pay now. Pandora, bless their hearts, made sure that 70% of the money they get goes back to the artists and that’s the thing. That’s the right thing to do! It’s not free. It’s livelihood’s.
It’s completely changed everything and you just gotta hope that it works itself out. The one thing I do know is that it needs to be regulated. We live in a society and the reason it’s a society is because we have laws. If we didn’t have laws and rules we’d be running around shooting each other. It’d be the wild west. That’s the perfect analogy so…. (deadpans) this record comes out June 4th (laughs).
Filter is definitely the heaviest band on the Summerland bill that’s coming up, why was this the right tour for you?
I’ve known Art (Alexakis, Everclear) for 15 years and he’s a good guy. I love to tour with my friends. I mean, it’s that simple. I know the guys form Live and they’re good people. When you have a choice to hang out with your buddies and go play rock ‘n’ roll music, you take it. That’s what we do and that’s as simple as it gets.
What do you hope fans take away from a Filter record or live performance?
I hope I move ’em. Jonny and I both feel like we hope we take them into a journey. We make records for records. We don’t do singles. It’s about the whole thing. We wanna take ’em on a journey. I used to listen to the Rolling Stones and U2 and I would listen to those records over and over and over and over and it would bum me out when I would listen to something that I just bought and I was over it (I’m not saying U2 or any of those guys). The Unforgettable Fire is still in my rotation of records that I listen to. Music is hugely important that way and you’ve gotta make your records count. It’s an opportunity to grab someone’s attention and go: This is something cool, maybe this’ll help you out!
Filter has gone through a number of line up changes over the years. Do you feel like you’ve finally found the perfect Filter line up?
Absolutely! Not every member but right now, Frank (Cavanaugh) are having a huge public disagreement about gun control. He said something personal about me and I said “Hey, at least my new bass player can palm mute!” I asked Frank to palm mute “Hey Man Nice Shot” which is a technique on the bass and it’s this public kind of “Fuck you! You’re gonna bring up my personal shit…” I mean I’m jokingly kind of laughing at the situation cuz Frank’s crazy. I love him. And with Geno, it’s like the spark in our relationship kind of fizzled out and then I worked with Mitch Marlow. I worked with John 5. And it was like, okay, I need to put records out. I’m gonna work with anybody. I even worked with Wes Borland which was great!
With Jonny it just became clear that I need a partner. I need someone to literally partner with because I wanna make records faster, I wanna do things faster…Jonny is in the same headspace as me. He appreciates that same stuff I do. We were kind of talking the first day on the bus when he filled in and he was like “I love the Vangelis soundtrack!” and I was like “My God, that’s a huge deal to me!” Art is a hundred percent yes or no answers. Taste and style is everything. Ability is all around us. You know, I can sing and I can sing any way ya want but it’s taste and it’s style that separates you from everybody and makes you original. To have someone that’s kind of challenging me to go to another level but at the same time appreciative of the heritage just makes me wanna do more! It just makes me wanna work more and be attentive and be a good friend and cultivate a constructive relationship with somebody and Jonny’s that guy. We’re working really hard and we wanna keep this thing going and make more records and keep doing this for a long time. I mean, that’s why I’m alive. Look at Mick Jagger or U2. Why would you keep going? Well, because we love it so much. You can’t come down from it. You wanna stay there. You wanna stay current. You wanna stay relevant. It’s a beautiful thing to make music for people and have them like it.
What is the biggest difference being in Filter today than when you started the band in 1993?
Sobriety and self-confidence! Back then I was commenting on social issues because I didn’t really have the life experience to kind of really draw from and feel like I had really developed as a writer to be able to say “I’m in pain” and it’s hard to tell that a 20-year old or 22-year old kid really knows what pain is….and now looking back, I’ve lived so much that I can draw from any period of my life. It’s there in my memory and I understand exactly what I was going through so I can comment on it. It’s great because it’s more personal. I’m really allowed to kind of say what I wanna say in any direction and so with that I just think it’s gotten a lot easier. Like, I hated writing lyrics. It was the last fucking thing I wanted to do and now it’s the first thing I wanna do. It’s easy now and it’s fun and it’s good and it’s constructive. You know I can say “Sit your ass down motherfucker!” and you’re not going anywhere! That’s lived. I’m singing and people know “Oh shit, he means it!”
The Sun Comes Out Tonight is out now. You can find out where you can grab a copy here as well as find out where Filter will be stopping next on the Summerland tour.