In the third and final part of our 3 part interview with Filter frontman Richard Patrick, Richard delves even deeper into his career. He discusses being a candidate to sing for Alice In Chains in the mid 2000’s when Jerry Cantrell revived the band, his relationship with the former members of Filter from the band’s initial 1995-2002 run, his time in Nine Inch Nails with Trent Reznor. He also does a funny impression of Billy Corgan, which I uploaded the audio of. Go read Part 1 and Part 2 of the interview if you missed them.
I wanted to ask about Filter’s IndieGoGo campaign. When I read about that I thought it was really interesting. I’d never really seen a band do it for a tour, maybe some bands have done it but not bands that I’m a fan of. What’s the plan with the campaign, what markets do you want to hit and will the amount raised determine how many cities you get to play?
We want to try to get to all four corners. The number one cost with everything is aviation fuel, its plane tickets. To get to a place like South Africa you’ve got to spend 40,000 dollars getting down there. People don’t realize they’re like ‘oh he just got on it.’ We’re not some massive band, we need our audience more than ever. We want our audience more than ever. The reality is, if you can have special merchandise, if you can make special perks, VIP perks, and you do these things and people pay for them in advance, it helps us to get there because then it’s not coming directly out of our money. It’s coming out of the future money we’re going to make from that particular territory. So it’s just a business thing, record companies back when I was with Warner Brothers, they were like ‘hey Filter’s great we’ve got plenty of money to burn let’s spend 30,000 dollars from tour support and get them down there.’ Record companies don’t have that now. Warner Brothers had 2,500 employees in Los Angeles alone. Now they’ve got 30, 30 people work at Warner Brothers if that. People don’t get it, if you’re not paying for the music where does the money go? Well, the money is now not around.
We’ve never been like a massive band overseas. I had personal problems which would make it difficult for me to get out there, and we never did extensive touring over there because we weren’t a huge band overseas. We were predominately big in the United States and Europe. We can get out to Europe it’s just, to go from Europe to Dubai, most people go Europe-Dubai-South Africa. It’s like, we don’t have Dubai, we don’t have any of that stuff. Rihanna is all over their TV stations, Filter? They don’t even listen to fucking rock period in like Germany, nothing with a guitar is on their radio stations slash TV, nothing. I mean Rammstein is a huge underground thing, but it’s not in the public or on TV, it’s just not. Again, Filter isn’t a heavy metal band, we’re not jumping on a genre and just kind of riding the genre. Like ‘okay I’ll grow my hair long and I’ll talk about the devil and it’ll just be fucking one thing and I’ll conform to this one, I’ll find shredders I’ll get Jeff to play 32nd notes as fast as he can on the kick drum.’ We’re completely our own musical genre, we’re Filter. To me we’re the postmodern Clash, where The Clash kind of blend styles and they kind of stick to their guns. Yeah they were punk, but boy they had hip hop in there and reggae, they had all kinds of stuff going on in their sound. That’s kind of what we are, if you’re going to be an island people have to kind of appreciate you as a groundbreaking thing. We’re not just going ‘hey we’re industrial, cha-ching!’ We don’t do that.
I showed up to the first Filter shows dressed up in clothes that I liked, like my old man hat and my old Sears glasses from the Hey Man Nice Shot. I remember in Orlando especially all these kids showed up just Marilyn Mansoned out, and I did that when I was in Nine Inch Nails. I was the full on fucking crazy skinheaded Piggy, that was my nickname Piggy, this crazy lunatic. But in Filter I wanted to make sure that everyone understood it was a different thing, I wasn’t going to just latch on to the most of obvious place like ‘oh okay here it is.’ I used a drum machine to make a rock record. I was like fuck man, Big Black, this band Godhead, they were all drum machine and it was all really cool. I wanted to be a tall Big Black record, I didn’t want it to be industrial. My record company was furious, they were like ‘come on dude it’s an established top 10 fucking thing with Nine Inch Nails.’ I’m like ‘yeah but, it’s been done, I need to step out on my own.’ Then when I wrote Take a Picture they were like ‘well holy fuck it’s a beautiful song but it’s completely different from your industrial stuff.’ I said ‘hey I’m trying to make music for myself.’ It succeeded, but it also hurt the genre inclusion of the heavy fans, they were like ‘fuck you Filter, you made me feel something different other than hate. You make me feel happy.’
But there’s still anger in Take a Picture, that’s the irony.
There’s a lot of fucking anger. You know I was talking to Billy Corgan about it. He was like, [Does Billy Corgan impression] ‘Dude I love that song it’s a huge departure but you’re going to piss off the fucking heavy fans.’ He’s like ‘people don’t realize, when I wrote Today it’s about gouging your eyes out, it’s about fuckin trying to find happiness.’ That’s the thing, kids don’t realize that there’s a lot of fuckin darkness in Take a Picture.
It’s just disguised in a poppy melody basically.
You and Jerry Cantrell contributed to each other’s albums, at least those versions never ended up happening in the mid 2000’s. What happened to that material you recorded with Jerry?
It’s still there. I don’t know, I knew Jerry wanted to put Alice In Chains together. There was a point in time where I think he was considering me.
To sing for Alice In Chains?
There was, according to friends. He was putting it out there a little bit one time. I was just kind of coiling a little bit because I was like, I know that means that I’ll never be able to do [other things], plus the Herculean task of filling [Layne Staley’s shoes]. I’m a tenor, [Layne] was more of a baritone who sang high. So his voice broke up real early in the higher notes where as I have to fucking sing twice as high to get that scream. So just that fact alone would have been a very overwhelming thing for me, to have to sing baritone and lower, it would sound fake. It wouldn’t sound natural. The point is, there was a moment where we were kind of looking at each other like ‘are you gonna be the guy, are we gonna be the guy?’ Nothing was ever said, but he mentioned that they were considering me back in the day but they found that one guy, [William DuVall]. All of the sudden it was just a perfect fit, I’m glad. I’d love to tour with Alice In Chains, I think they’re so great.
You should have gotten on the Uproar Tour, its Alice In Chains and Jane’s Addiction, you probably would have fit right in on that.
There’s always the future. There’s always something coming up in the future.
Do you think you’ll ever work with past Filter members again like Brian, Geno, and Frank?
Geno is always a friend. I love him, but musically it just never put me over the top. He found an amazing situation with Dave and Device, I’m super fuckin proud of him and I really think it’s a perfect fit. Unfortunately he’s not on tour, that’s the sad thing, that’s where the fun is being out on tour and having a great concert. I guess he wants to be more of a studio guy than a live person, but he wrote all that stuff and it sounded great and I’m super proud of him. Device is taking off and I’m happy for him. Frank is just kind of—it bothers me that people think that’s the original Filter, because it wasn’t. The original Filter has always been me, a computer, a variety of friends that play with me on the record, and a producer. In Short Bus’ case it was Brian Liesegang. I always kind of felt like I was fibbing the whole time like, ‘yeah sure I’ll put your name right next to mine, because I don’t want to be a mean guy who takes all the shit.’
Look at Josh Homme, he’s the main songwriter, he’s the main person behind [Queens of the Stone Age]. There’s different people that come out with him on the road, there always has been, even different singers. But come on, it’s fuckin Josh Homme’s thing. Same with Foo Fighters, same with Nirvana. In Nirvana’s case the drums really did make a big fuckin difference, obviously with Dave. But still, Kurt was the main songwriter the main kind of engine behind that. He was the dark twisted guy that we loved, that came in and fuckin broke through the hair band barrier and saved us all. Something that Jane’s Addiction had started but once Nirvana kind of made everybody aware that alternative music was here to stay, it opened up everything. Those guys, Trent, all those guys made it very easy for us to release records. I’ll never forget them and I’m very pleased to have known some of these guys. I never met Kurt, but being in Nine Inch Nails and working with my friend Trent it really did make a huge difference. Even that, me and Trent are friends again. I e-mail him silly fuckin comments and he e-mails me right back, and its fun. I played him the record and he was like ‘dude this is so awesome’ and tweeted about it. When you get a little older you start realizing how much you love the people who you’ve grown up with. I think there might be something coming up with Robert and Dean at some point.
Yeah you guys are playing a festival together in the fall, Filter and the new STP. So maybe a little one off Army of Anyone thing.
I’m going to bump into my old buddies and we’re going to talk about the good times. You’ve got to make friends in this business. When you get up to a certain level, you’ve got to kind of look around and go ‘how did we get up here?’ And you have something to share. Trent and I lived very similar lives. I mean he got sober I got sober, I got kids he got kids. You start realizing the similarities and the thing you have in common like ‘hey your voice ever go out on you, you ever have a problem with this?’ Knowing other singers it’s important for me, like Jacoby Shaddix. I’m like ‘dude how’s your voice how’s my voice, does my shit work does your shit work?’ You tend to love each other after awhile, you love surrounding yourself with people you respect. Brett from Fuel, he’s someone that like we hang out and see a movie together, we saw Dredd. I went ‘hey what are you doing tonight?’ We’re practically neighbors at this point, we live close to each other, so we’ll go catch a flick and talk about music. You need that, you need that fraternal brotherhood.
At the end of the interview Richard joked about rambling too much and thanked me for the time.