Richard Patrick of Filter spoke to MusicReview about Filter’s latest album, piracy, addiction, upcoming tours and South Africa.
Richard, thank you for chatting to us. We are totally loving The Trouble With Angels. The current consensus amongst critics is that it is a well-rounded album that demonstrates consistent musical excellence. How was the recording experience for you? Did you guys have fun recording the album?
Wow, South Africa, I love it! You know, I finally got a chance to work with Bob Marlette, and after 20 years of doing music, I finally met someone that has raised the bar for me in making it incredibly easy to make quality music. I have always worked hard and written good music, but I wanted to raise the standard. Bob Marlette has done this for me, he is the right producer for me… Fundamentally, this is the album of “I’m sorry I was away, I’m sorry I’ve had personal issues” but we’re back, and hopefully this will be the make-up sex after we’ve been gone for so long and I’ll be forgiven.
The Trouble With Angels was initially pencilled for a 2009 release, but only got released late last month. What was the major hold up?
When Bob and I were working on the record and were trying to get everything together, it just didn’t feel like that was the way we could do it. When we started to realise that we had this amazing record on our hands, we decided to slow down the process. The fans have waited for another great Filter album for so long, and although we wanted to hurry the process, we decided the quality of the album would make up for the wait. You’ve gotta make sure that this stuff is perfect, man. It’s like making a baby, once that baby comes out, you’re hoping that she is cooked and that everything is good.
You’ve mentioned in previous comments that the album has more of an industrial and electronic feel, and we can pick it up as well. What is your rationale for this? Are you as sick of modern rock as everyone else is?
I hear like 5 000 bands that want to sound like Nickelback and that’s fine, but to me, when I heard that Soundgarden were getting back together and Alice in Chains, and that Deftones were releasing a new record, I got excited. That’s when I thought, okay, things are going to come back to normal for a bit. For me, the problem with modern rock is that it is all starting to sound the same. Don’t get me wrong, I like Nickelback, but just all these other bands that are trying to do the same makes me just want to say “Guys, come on, let’s do something different!”. So I hope that the fans out there will latch onto The Trouble With Angels, and get a little relief…
The new album features song titles such as ‘The Inevitable Relapse’, ‘Absentee Father’ and ‘No Love’. Were these cathartic tracks for you? Do they have any reference to personal experiences?
Yeah. ‘[Inevitable] Relapse’ is a song that explains addiction, but the good parts of it. As well as the crazy and questionable parts. Every time I relapse, I’m like ” HEEEEEEEY! LET’S GO TO THE BAR!”, but it is the weirdest disease in the world. We relapse by going out and having fun, but it ends up at 6am around a coffee table, people have missed work and you are all doing bad stuff. When you start drinking at 7am and need a drink when you wake up to survive, then it’s horrible. It’s like that girl in the video for ‘Inevitable Relapse’ (see beneath), addiction is a bitch and she will beat the shit out of you.
So yes, it has got to be personal, you have to write about things that are interesting to you.
Everybody knows about the decrease in album sales and the escalation of piracy. Fact is that records don’t make the money they used to and labels aren’t giving artists a million dollar advances any more. Has Filter thought about how they’re going to adapt to this revolution in terms of the marketing and release of future records?
You know, the audience has decided that they’re not going to pay for music any more. I was just talking to a few friends at record companies and they spoke of this kid who left a comment: “I can’t believe that the new Zakk Wylde album costs so much, you know, it only costs 5 dollars to make a record. Why are we paying 30 dollars for it? (Australian dollars). Well, do you know why? Because Zakk has a family. He has got to put food on the table and all the other people at the studio need to put food on the table. Fact is, Zakk went about and made something from nothing and has put it on a medium so that he can make money to sustain himself and his family. That’s why. These kids, have no fucking idea what they are doing. By downloading and pirating all this music, you are taking away from an artist’s livelihood.
In terms of our album, the actual CD itself, which you can buy at www.officialfilter.com, comes with artwork that actually tells the rest of the story of the music. I tried to make the whole thing an experience. That’s how we are trying to do it.
You know, I get it, everybody has other things that they want to spend their money on; but I was at this gig, and people were like: “Damn, 10 bucks for a CD…” and I thought to myself, well you have just spent 6 bucks on a beer that you are going to piss out in 10 minutes. It actually defies logic. Studios are not cheap and considering that we worked on the album for 8 months, we have many costs to pay. While some artists like Lady Gaga, Coldplay and other heavy touring artists may stand to make a lot of money, we don’t tour much, we don’t get out much… so the audience needs to decide, do you want to get behind something? Or do you want to steal from it and be part of its demise?
Richard, you’ve worked with some incredible musicians and legends. To this day, who has been the most inspiring artist to work with?
Bob Marlette. He has a way of communicating with me that is completely… almost like a vulcan mind trick. That’s the way I would describe it. It is like a treat. Wait, that’s not the best way to describe it [puts on convincing English accent] “Hello, it’s a treat!” [end convincing English accent]. He is a gifted producer.
You seem to be involved in many film soundtracks. How do you manage to secure so many of these coveted spots?
People hear Filter and they just think that it is very cinematic. Our music is epic and when you throw it against a big movie, it just has this really big sound. Plus, I am always in Hollywood. I’m always sticking my name out there, and I know many film producers…
How is the Richard Patrick of today, different from the Richard Patrick who started out in the 80s?
When they say “youth is wasted on youth”, they are right. I have learned so much. I wish I understood the world a little bit better back then because I had everything that you can imagine unfolding right before me; but I was so sick with disease and childhood scars that I couldn’t see all those wonderful things in front of me.
The beautiful thing though, is that I’m 42 and I just don’t look it or feel it. I’m blessed with a certain amount of youth. When you get healthy, your body starts to fix itself and regenerate, and I’m rejoicing in a second birth ever since I got sober. I have children and I live through them. It is just so beautiful and they keep me young. Then I have all my young friends, who just walk and talk and get me in trouble and I like that. So I hang out with those guys as well. In that sense I live double lives. Two consecutive births and rebirths. My sobriety today is the real peak of my life. In fact, I bring our shows way more harder today than I ever did. I am so much more of a performer at 42 than I was at 25.
What’s next for Filter? Do you have any tours lined up?
Yes, we are doing quite a big run starting in October in the United States. It will run through October, November and December and then we are going to hit Europe. Plus, I know that we need to hit Australia, I was just on the phone to those guys and they are desperate for us to come through.
That leads us into our next question. You guys are big down here, people love you in South Africa. What would it take to get you guys to come here?
It would have to take routing. It would take a big-ass audience (ed. we have them here). The planes have to have engines (ed. Hehe, we have those too)… Honestly, I love our fans. We are so blessed to be doing what we do for a living and if there is an audience for us, we will be there. We will put on the greatest show on earth. We don’t need to stand behind the lights to make it happen, our music does the trick. If we came down there, it would be like a punk rock gig. We would play our hardest and with all our hearts. We would absolutely love to come to South Africa!
Speaking of which, it must have been great to have the World Cup down there.
Yes, it was fantastic, it was great for our economy too.
Yeah! That’s the thing… The whole world is rejoicing in what has gone on there in the last 20 years, with Nelson Mandela and… You know, we have our own president who is a man of colour, a mere 180 years ago, he could have been a slave. It is just incredible to see how far we have come in our thinking. Bless you guys, I love South Africa. We are so on your side. We are intrigued by you guys, you tell us when, and we will be there.
Thank you, Richard. We wish you all the best.